Transterrestrial Musings  

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay

Alan Boyle (MSNBC)
Space Politics (Jeff Foust)
Space Transport News (Clark Lindsey)
NASA Watch
NASA Space Flight
Hobby Space
A Voyage To Arcturus (Jay Manifold)
Dispatches From The Final Frontier (Michael Belfiore)
Personal Spaceflight (Jeff Foust)
Mars Blog
The Flame Trench (Florida Today)
Space Cynic
Rocket Forge (Michael Mealing)
COTS Watch (Michael Mealing)
Curmudgeon's Corner (Mark Whittington)
Selenian Boondocks
Tales of the Heliosphere
Out Of The Cradle
Space For Commerce (Brian Dunbar)
True Anomaly
Kevin Parkin
The Speculist (Phil Bowermaster)
Spacecraft (Chris Hall)
Space Pragmatism (Dan Schrimpsher)
Eternal Golden Braid (Fred Kiesche)
Carried Away (Dan Schmelzer)
Laughing Wolf (C. Blake Powers)
Chair Force Engineer (Air Force Procurement)
Saturn Follies
JesusPhreaks (Scott Bell)
The Ombudsgod
Cut On The Bias (Susanna Cornett)
Joanne Jacobs

Site designed by

Powered by
Movable Type
Biting Commentary about Infinity, and Beyond!

« Spanish Flu Published | Main | Back In Town »

Press Outraged Over Staged Flagraising

March 3rd, 1945

IWO JIMA (Routers) Controversy has erupted among the press corps in the last few days as news has spread that the now-famous picture of the "victorious" flag raising over Iwo Jima a couple weeks ago was staged. Many believe that, as the huge number of casualties mounted in the ill-fated and pointless invasion of this tiny island, the Roosevelt administration, desperate for a bit of pro-war propaganda, arranged to have the photo taken for dissemination to the world's news services.

It has been revealed that the picture was actually of a "recreation" of an earlier flag raising of a much smaller flag, though even that event has now been cast into doubt by the apparent attempt to mislead the press.

There is abundant evidence that the picture was not only unspontaneous, but orchestrated on orders from higher ups.

"None of the men in the picture actually carried the flag to the top," one reporter noted. "It was brought up by a lieutenant in charge, probably at White House orders." In addition, none of the men in the picture had even been injured in the fighting to that point.

The latest propaganda ploy from the administration comes in the midst of doubts about the war strategy, with many thinking this latest bloody adventure particularly misguided. Several thousand Marines have died already in the invasion, and many more have been injured, many losing limbs. Moreover, despite the "victory" implied by the "flag raising," the brave Japanese continue to resist in caves dug deep into the volcanic rock of the doughty little island, with continuing "Allied" casualties. One Republican staffer on the Hill declared that it was Roosevelt's attempt to prematurely declare "major combat operations over," when it was clear that the Japanese were going to continue to fight on to the last man.

Beyond the distaste at what now seems an obvious public-relations ploy, some military strategists argue that the Iwo Jima invasion wasn't worth the cost in resources and blood, or even necessary at all, since the only reason the island is desired is as an auxiliary air base for emergency landings of "Allied" bombers attacking the Japanese homeland.

Some of the anti-war groups are particularly outraged. "We've killed tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers, and several thousand of our own, just so we can save the lives of a few American air crews while they kill hundreds of thousands of helpless Japanese civilians," read a press release from one of the more prominent groups. It continued, "Now we find the Roosevelt administration attempting to cover up its criminal actions by staging events meant to hide the fact that we're losing this cruel war, with massive casualties on all sides."

The White House, of course, attempts to defend its actions. A spokesman points out that no claims have been made that fighting was over, and that the photo was a depiction of a real event that had occurred shortly before, but not been captured by the cameras. He also noted that Mount Suribachi was in fact taken that day, and had not been relinquished since.

This does not satisfy critics in the press or the anti-war movement, however.

"It's important to demonstrate the perfidy and mendacity of this administration now," said one leading spokesman, "before it becomes fixed in the mind of the public as an American 'victory,' or something to be admired and emulated in the future. If we don't set the record straight now, who knows how history will record it? For all we know, they'll decide to put up a bronze statue in Arlington to commemorate it, or something."

Posted by Rand Simberg at October 16, 2005 07:05 AM
TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference this post from Transterrestrial Musings.
Excerpt: Hah!:Controversy has erupted among the press corps in the last few days as news has spread that the now-famous picture of the "victorious" flag raising over Iwo Jima a couple weeks ago was staged. Many believe that, as the huge...
Weblog: Shot In The Dark
Tracked: October 16, 2005 09:13 AM
Staged News
Excerpt: A great piece over at
Weblog: Marked Up
Tracked: October 16, 2005 09:19 AM
Excerpt: Something is afoot as Rand harkens back to the days of yore and the raising of the flag by US Marines over Mt. Surabachi on Iwo Jima as if the media of today were covering the event.
Weblog: A Blog For All
Tracked: October 16, 2005 10:39 AM
Great Moment In Journalism
Excerpt: Rand Simberg has another piece looking at what would result if events of the past were covered by journalists of today. Press Outraged Over Staged Flagraising The latest propaganda ploy from the administration comes in the midst of doubts about...
Weblog: Just Some Poor Schmuck
Tracked: October 16, 2005 06:56 PM
Mainstream ... Compare and Contrast
Excerpt: Democrats Bill Galston and Elaine Kamarck, both Clinton administration veterans, point out in a recent paper that two thirds of liberals, the dominant force in the party at least in 2004, reject pre-emptive use of military force and want to...
Weblog: ishkabible
Tracked: October 16, 2005 07:57 PM
Ummmm, guns!
Weblog: Argghhh! The Home Of Two Of Jonah's Military Guys..
Tracked: October 17, 2005 10:03 AM
Was The Iwo Jima Flag Raising "Faked"?
Excerpt: Transterrestrial Musings dispatches the jabbering idiots who are hysterical over GWB's "staged" interviews with troops in Iraq (hat tip to The Corner): March 3rd, 1945 IWO JIMA (Routers) Controversy has erupted among the press corps in the last few day...
Weblog: The Bernoulli Effect
Tracked: October 17, 2005 11:18 AM
If today's Media reported Iwo Jima:
Weblog: aka W. 'Ian' Blanton
Tracked: October 18, 2005 12:44 AM
Staged Event Casts Doubt Over Liberation
Excerpt: Rand Simburg has the story. On a related note, check out this story and this story and note the reactions. LW...
Weblog: The Laughing Wolf
Tracked: October 19, 2005 05:24 AM
Blogworthies LXXIII
Excerpt: Blogworthies: A weekly round-up of noteworthy entries from a variety of weblogs on a variety of topics.
Weblog: The Blog from the Core
Tracked: October 22, 2005 09:41 AM
Blogworthies LXXIII
Excerpt: Blogworthies: A weekly round-up of noteworthy entries from a variety of weblogs on a variety of topics.
Weblog: The Blog from the Core
Tracked: October 22, 2005 10:17 AM

Reading this made me unexpectedly sad. What's happened to our country in the last 50 years? The article rings so true with today's coverage of Iraq that I think the only thing missing is the "increasingly brazen" or "increasingly bold" meme that is usually shoehorned in there somewhere.

Posted by kcom at October 16, 2005 08:25 AM

I read through this piece and laughed my backside off --- it is exactly what today's press reports today and would have reported then. And, like "kcom" when I got to the end I found myself incrediably sad at that realization.

Posted by John Steele at October 16, 2005 08:41 AM

It would be nice to dig out some actual news reports of this event from March 3, 1945 and contrast it with the MSM "reporting" of the present.

I have an uncle who was present at both flag raising and knew the marines involved.

Posted by at October 16, 2005 08:47 AM

Good satire, as usual. May I just point out to your readers that the idea that the famous flag raising was staged for the cameras is an urban legend? It is true that there were two flag raisings atop Mount Suribachi that day and that the famous picture is of the second one. However, the raising of the second flag was ordered by Marine Corps officers because the first flag was too small to be seen well from the rest of the island. Joe Rosenthall's photograph of its raising was entirely spontaneous. Another reporter misunderstood what had happened and told the story of the "staged" flagraising which then got printed in Time magazine. Both he and Time later realized the error and apologized for it but the legend has never died. There are websites, easily findable with a google seach, describing the details and showing photos of both flag raisings.

Posted by Michael at October 16, 2005 08:47 AM

I find myself in the same situation as kcom and John: I started out laughing and ended up depressed. It's not funny - very good writing, but not funny.

Thanks, Michael, for the background.

Posted by mrsizer at October 16, 2005 09:16 AM

Nice bit of perspective, however ...
If you really wanted to capture the zeitgeist of the press corps ... you would never have given the name of the other side. The public must never know that we are fighting a definable group. We would be fighting "insurgents," "militants," or, perhaps, "rebels," angered either by Roosevelt's Pacific policies, or blockading Japan, or, most oblique of all, the U.S. support for the Chiang Kai-Shek government in Peiping. 'Cause it's all America's fault, y'know. All wars are. Nam. Korea. WWs I & II. The Napoleonic Wars. Hundred Years War. Peloponessian. Only the U.S. is ever the cause of war. Oh, that and W's refusal to sign Kyoto caused the genocide of Java Man. Don't forget that one.

Posted by retrofuturistic at October 16, 2005 10:01 AM

I'll echo the sentiments above, and to add to Michael's comments - I recommend listening to this interview with James Bradley (the son of one of the marines who raised the flag)on Imus on the 60th anniversary of the flag raising.


Posted by mandos at October 16, 2005 10:04 AM


Excellent job. But you forgot to include the "mounting casualties" phrase. Because it's important to distinguish this war from all the previous ones, where (we all know) casualties declined over time.

Posted by PJ/Maryland at October 16, 2005 10:05 AM

Read the whole story FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS by James Bradley for the whole scoop about the staging. Interesting story about the individuals in the "flag raising" that is better than the story behind the flag.


Posted by Loren A. Jacobs at October 16, 2005 10:07 AM

I no longer read or watch much of the MSM because of the outright hatred of our country that I see and hear. Taking the other side in time of war used to be called treason but now we are asked to see the other's side. Murderers of women and children, thugs and rapists, swine of every stripe are called something other than what they are. I'm tired of the 5th columnists in our midst pretending to be reporters of the 'truth.' They fabricate the news to the detriment of our country, they have for the most part become enemies.

Posted by Ron Nord at October 16, 2005 10:23 AM

Have you seen the film (i.e, moving picture) shot at the same time as the famous still picture? The group of men raised a flagPOLE because none was present standing in the rubble. The whole thing took a minute or so, and then the men went back to doing other work. The picture is a moving symbol of the ordinariness of the patriotic spirit of our WWII soldiers.

Posted by Richard at October 16, 2005 11:54 AM

Nice, I like this type of satire.

Hey Rand, I noticed your IMAO link was broken.
Just an FYI.

Posted by spacemonkey at October 16, 2005 11:55 AM

Excellent piece. The comment about mounting casualties - they are microscopic compared to other wars (an hour in WWII). This is WWIII and today we see Democrats hoping that the terrorists continue to kill and that Democracy fails for those that want freedom and are now practicing democracy. All for their personal power aspirations. After the election, today we see the Democrats with their hate filled talking points on the talk shows. So, who are the Democrats and their media speaking for then?

Posted by jdl2406 at October 16, 2005 01:50 PM

Excellent. Just flat out excellent satire.


Posted by DaMav at October 16, 2005 01:53 PM

Iraqi blog - one man's comments on the vote

I met one friend on the way and when I asked him what would his vote be he said that he hasn’t decided yet “if I voted yes I would be approving some articles that I don’t agree with and if I voted no we would go back to where we started from…” he said and that was really refreshing because this guy who used to believe in conspiracy theories and stuff like “what America wants is what’s going to happen” now feels that his vote can make a difference.

I am so excited but a flashback from Saddam’s referendum three years ago still hurts; he wanted a 100% as the 99.96% of the previous one shocked the dictator. I was depressed that way and I decided not to go to the voting office and so did the rest of the family but my father was a fraid that not going could be dangerous.
He said that maybe one member of the family could go alone and cast votes for the rest of us. We looked at each other thinking who’s going to volunteer to do this ugly job to protect the family. At that moment my father said “it was my generation that caused the misery we’re living in so I’m the one who should do this”.

I couldn’t stop him and I couldn’t utter a word but I felt sad for him; his sacrifice was big and I had teary eyes when I watched him taking our papers and heading out.

It is different this time father, no more 100% and a ‘no’ would make me happy just like a ’yes’ would do and no one ever will force us to do something against our will anymore.

Tomorrow will be another day for Iraqi bravery. May God protect you my people…you have suffered so much and you will still be suffering for some time but I am sure the future will be bright.
God bless you my people and all the freedom lovers who keep sacrificing to make this world a better place.

Posted by at October 16, 2005 02:03 PM

Very nice piece of work. Marines end up with a different reaction than kcom, mrsizer and John; not sad, just hot.

Posted by HowNowCow at October 16, 2005 02:44 PM

My Dad was right there when the flags were raised. He said he thought, "Are they out of their damn minds? Perfect targets!"

Also, Marines even in that War expected little from the civilian press except for Ernie Pyle. Many of the rest were nice enough, my dad said, but clueless.

Posted by JorgXMckie at October 16, 2005 03:04 PM

Brilliant satire, having spent some time in the puzzle palace during Bosnia, you have a winner--Remember the Captain who was a scared little bunny?

Posted by Tamra at October 16, 2005 03:26 PM

The previous commenter was right. The first flag to be raised was fairly small, but it is the raising that Iwo vets think of when asked if they remember the flag raising over Suribachi. Shouts went up from Marines all over and many wept, so powerful was the sight. Ships' horns were sounded and a lot of celebratory firing broke out, coincidentally (heh!) pointed at enemy lines.

There were two reasons that the second flag was raised. One was, as stated above, that the first flag was too small to be clearly seen across the island or out to sea. The second was the the battalion commander of the unit concerned knew that Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox was aboard the fleet's flagship, and the commander was very fearful the secretary would order the flag sent to Washington as a memento. The commander was determined to send that flag to the Marines' regimental or division museum.

So he ordered a new, larger flag to be carried to the top. He very firmly directed the first flag be returned to him personally. Joe Rosenthal was already up there and he almost missed the second raising. He and a Navy photog had gotten shots of the first flag and as far as they were concerend there was no real significance to the second flag at all. It was merely a substitute. Joe wasn't even paying attention when the Marines and a corpsman assembled to raise the second flag. The Navy photog wanted to film it (which he did) and yelled at the last minute for Joe to take a shot.

Joe was startled and jumped up raising his camera. He had time to take only one photograph - but what a photograph it turned out to be. Its raw emotional impact was overwhelming. It's interesting to note, though, that the shot violated almost every rule of news photography on the book. The detail is poor and only one face is visible and that is in profile. It is indistinct how many men are even in the picture. Joe didn't even get the men's names. Yet is is probably the most-reproduced photo is history.

Posted by Donald Sensing at October 16, 2005 03:28 PM

excellent. it was Truman of course. Not Roosevelt, who died on Feb. 12th. A Double-entendre in case someone stole it? Or an honest mistake? Leave me to wonder, it is better that way.

Posted by vinoverde at October 16, 2005 03:31 PM

These little satires would make a great
black comedy, some day. Consider binding
them into book form.

Posted by K at October 16, 2005 04:02 PM

Roosevelt, who died on Feb. 12th.

No, Roosevelt died on April 12th.

Posted by Rand Simberg at October 16, 2005 04:16 PM

"Iwo Jima, if covered by media today." October 12, 2004, by Zell Miller is at

I thank Michael for undoing an urban legend.

Posted by Ted Shepherd at October 16, 2005 04:41 PM

It's important to emphasize that Iwo Jima is Japanese soil and that the Japanese militants are, therefore, simply fighting desperately to defend their homes and their culture against an insensitive and unthinking America that thinks it can bring their country to democracy through brute force.

We should all remember that if American diplomacy before 12/7 hadn't been so inept and clumsy, the Japanese would never have felt so cornered as to have to launch an attack on us, an attack to which we replied with more violence, thus perpetuating a cycle of violence that grips the Pacific to this day.

If the Roosevelt administration had been more introspective and asked what it had done to incur such Japanese anger, our troops might not be dying in this ill-fated attempt to impose our culture on another.

Posted by Alex Bensky at October 16, 2005 04:46 PM

Would someone now like to explain how the faked raising of the USSR flag at the Reichstag was similarly not really bogus?

Posted by dearieme at October 16, 2005 06:19 PM

Awesome introspective Rand. It's scary to see how something as special as that moment COULD have been ruined by today's media.

Posted by SeanS at October 16, 2005 06:46 PM

Would someone now like to explain how the faked raising of the USSR flag at the Reichstag was similarly not really bogus?

Posted by dearieme at October 16, 2005 06:19 PM

Because the Soviet stunt was actually done simply for the cameras. It was a dramatic recreation of of an actual event, done after the shooting had stopped, before cameras, which they deliberately claimed was the actual event. In the Iwo Jima case the second flag was raised for reasons that had nothing to do with getting pictures, the battle was still going on, and news reports at the time accurately described the two seperate raisings and their purposes.

Posted by Michael at October 17, 2005 05:08 AM

It should be pointed out that the military had strict censorship in effect in WWII. None of this inane media crap could have occurred.

Posted by Banjo at October 17, 2005 06:21 AM

Anyone remember Clinton taking a stroll on Omaha Beach in 1994, "finding" some stones and kneeling to arraign them into the shape of a cross? Of course the stones were placed there for him to “find” and the cameras were stationed there purposely to record the “touching moment” but the MSM at the time made nothing of it.

Posted by Cecil Trotter at October 17, 2005 08:54 AM


It should be pointed out that the military had strict censorship in effect in WWII. None of this inane media crap could have occurred.

Actually, the censorship wasn't that strict as to exclude the subject "report". It was only aimed at avoiding publication of militarily significant information.

The flag raising at Iwo Jima was, as noted in several comments, quite public, being visible througout the island and even to ships nearby.

Posted by Dean Douthat at October 17, 2005 08:57 AM

Quote from Banjo: "It should be pointed out that the military had strict censorship in effect in WWII. None of this inane media crap could have occurred."

And for good reason!! To keep all those whiny little cry babies from ruining a perfectly good war.

Posted by Josh Reiter at October 17, 2005 09:23 AM

I knew about the second posed picture and I think most of us know, however your piece is a reality byte. Eisenhower would have been fired one week after the slaughter on Omaha Beach; for sending in a suicide squadron; and for the failure to land on a safer beach (you can bet the press would have pointed to a hundred of them). The intel people would have been jailed for failing to see the guns sealed in concrete bunkers; and heads would have surely rolled over their failure to report the hedgegroves in Normandy itself which kept our guys pinned in for weeks at the cost of thousands of lives. At least ten generals would have walked the plank over the surprise German attack called the Battle of the Bulge. There would have been no end to it and God only Knows if the Russians would have overrun Europe clear to Paris or not because our entire command would have been laid waste by the press. The slaughter of our guys in the Pacific over the "Island Hopping" strategy would have resulted in a negotiated Peace with Japan that left their entire military in place---the "feeler" fed to Washington in 1944---and our prisoners sacrificed by our liberal elite. And Truman? He'd have been jailed for sure and tried by a liberal court for a War Crime.

Posted by Howard Veit at October 17, 2005 12:43 PM


I'm no marine... but I sure do feel the same way about this type of thing!

Posted by vic at October 17, 2005 04:30 PM

Did Rosevelt fake interviews with soldiers as well?

Honestly you guys have lost it, is there nothing that Bush could ever do that you would not justify?

Posted by sonic at October 17, 2005 04:36 PM

yes, remember when we won wars - we had democrat presidents

Posted by wingnatzee at October 17, 2005 05:09 PM

Yeah, but the Democrats back then still considered themselves to be American _first_, not "Americans who really wished they were cool, suave, Europeans." Or whatever the hell is their problem these days.

Posted by Andrea Harris at October 17, 2005 07:05 PM

Does Clint Eastwood read Transterrestrial Musings?

Clint has just announced his intent to make two films about Iwo Jima -- one from the American side, and one from the US side.

Which makes a strange kind of sense. At one time, Eastwood made movies like Diry Harry that appealed to conservatives. Today, he makes films like Million Dollar Baby that pander to liberals. With this approach, he can appeal to both sides. :)

Posted by at October 17, 2005 07:26 PM

Yeah, it's funny. Comments are a lot more telling.

Media have always had an element of "reaching" for a story, look at the treatment Patton got during WWII.

On the other hand, Imperial Japan attacked us. Nazi Germany attacked our allies and allied with the Japanese. Did Iraq? (and no, AQ ain't Iraq)

American media wouldn't have reported Iwo Jima that way, because it didn't happen that way. And they did report the battles on Iwo Jima as increasing casualties, bloody fighting, because that's what was happening.

Staged "meetings" with our soldiers providing scripted friendly comments to our President is just sad. Can't get the comments any other way? Then don't do it.

Posted by W. Ian Blanton at October 18, 2005 12:19 AM

Quote from Ian Blanton: "Nazi Germany attacked our allies and allied with the Japanese. Did Iraq? (and no, AQ ain't Iraq)"

Last I remember pretty much everyone will agreed that Al-Qaeda is a state-less organization. We can see by how things are going in Pakistan that asking another country for help fighting Al-Qaeda isn't terribly efficient. If we look to the letter that was intercepted on its way to Zarqawi there are indications that Al-Qaeda had involvement in Iraq and in the adjacent countries of Iraq. Also, remember that a good percentage of people in those parts when they need to get somewhere do not hop on a plane and land wherever their next Jihad is going to start. We could say then that Iraq has been a crossroads for their passage between Saudi Arabia and Syria into Afghanistan for their terrorist training.

Posted by Josh Reiter at October 18, 2005 08:47 AM

"Nazi Germany attacked our allies and allied with the Japanese": to be specific, Nazi Germany declared war on the USA.

Posted by dearieme at October 18, 2005 03:00 PM

Josh; I definitely agree that AQ is stateless, I'm firmly in agreement with the "Open Source terrorism" camp. (A'la John Robb and the like)

Iraq as a crossroads? I suppose, but I would point out that we were running, as a coalition, "no-fly" zones to the north and south and monitoring a lot of travel, so does that make us complicit in allowing that travel? Hell, I seem to recall we have/had a reasonable sized force camped out in one of those very countries you mention. Maybe instead of distracting ourselves with Iraq, we should have hit them there? (and yes, I'm being naive, we're not about to "crack down" on the Saudi Arabians).

As far as the letter you point to, I agree. It's a sign that Iraq is important to The current administration has made it so. The problem is that, being a "stateless" organization, the conflict there works a lot more to our enemies' benefit than to ours, IMO.

Dearieme: Yep, they declared war on December 11, 1941; that famous German punctuality, I suppose.

Posted by W. Ian Blanton at October 18, 2005 06:45 PM

Actually, WWII was a "war of choice" for Britain. Germany attacked Poland, not France or the UK. Of course they had both given guarantees to Poland, but they had given guarantees to Czechoslovakia, too.

Obviously Chamberlain was just Roosevelt's poodle in the master neocon plot for world domination.

Posted by Jim Bennett at October 19, 2005 10:28 AM

Post a comment

Email Address: