The Pentagon has reacted angrily to the publication on US websites of photos of America's war dead arriving home.
Defence officials had banned publicity of the return of bodies from Iraq, but were forced to release images after a freedom-of-information court action.
Photos of coffins at the main military mortuary appeared on the web, prompting a Pentagon information crackdown.
Meanwhile, a US cargo worker has been fired after her photo of flag-draped coffins was used by a US newspaper.
Tami Silicio, 50, was dismissed by military contractor Maytag Aircraft Corp after she sent the photo to a friend who, with her permission, gave it to The Seattle Times for publication.
Since the beginning of the war, the media has been banned from Dover Air Force base in Delaware - the US military's largest mortuary - where the coffins of American soldiers have been arriving.
But, following court action from freedom-of-information activist Russ Kick, the Pentagon lifted the veil of secrecy.
They sent the activist a set of photographs of the flag-draped coffins, most lying in what appears to be an aircraft hangar.
When the photos began appearing on American websites on Thursday, the Bush administration reacted angrily, reportedly banning any further release of photos to media outlets.
"They're not happy with the release of the photos," said Dover Air Force base spokesman Col Jon Anderson.
Defence officials said the purpose of the ban was to protect the privacy of soldiers' families.
"Quite frankly, we don't want the remains of our service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice to be the subject of any kind of attention that is unwarranted or undignified," John Molino, a deputy undersecretary of defence, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
But the practice is widely criticised.
"We need to stop hiding the deaths of our young," said Jane Bright of California, who lost a son in combat last year. "We need to be open about their deaths."
Immediately after hearing about this, I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the following:
All photographs showing caskets (or other devices) containing the remains of US military personnel at Dover AFB. This would include, but not be limited to, caskets arriving, caskets departing, and any funerary rites/rituals being performed. The timeframe for these photos is from 01 February 2003 to the present.
I specified Dover because they process the remains of most, if not all, US military personnel killed overseas. Not surpisingly, my request was completely rejected. Not taking 'no' for an answer, I appealed on several grounds, and—to my amazement—the ruling was reversed. The Air Force then sent me a CD containing 361 photographs of flag-draped coffins and the services welcoming the deceased soldiers.
Score one for freedom of information and the public's right to know.