Monday, a reporter asked President Barack Obama if he would reverse the policy banning news organizations from taking pictures of flag-draped coffins containing the remains of U.S. military personnel.
In response Obama said that policy is under review and that no decision has been made yet. He should have just said "yes."
The United States should treat its war dead with honor. Those flag-draped coffins represent the best of us, and as a nation we should be proud of them - not hide them away as if their sacrifice were somehow embarrassing.
That has nothing to do with questions about the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan or how they have been waged. It does not depend on who is in the White House or whether one agrees with past or present policies on terrorism, national security or anything else.
The ban smacks of politics. It bars news photographers from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware or other facilities where the remains of military personnel killed overseas are returned to the United States. It was first enacted during the tenure of the first President Bush, but some exceptions were granted until the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Prohibiting photos is sometimes defended as protecting the families of the dead - as if facing a camera could ever compare to what they have already suffered. But like most government attempts as secrecy, it appears instead to be aimed at insulating officials from criticism.
The Iraq war in particular has been controversial, especially when it seemed to be spinning out of control. The Bush administration did not want to be graphically reminded of the body count and clearly could envision pictures of coffins in anti-war ads or on protesters' placards. And photos would be used that way.
But the cost of a war - in lives and broken bodies, as well as tax dollars - is a legitimate part of any discussion of its prosecution. Is liberating Iraq worth the more than 4,000 American lives lost there so far? Supporters of the war would probably say it is. Would it be worth another 50,000 dead? The answer might change.
But none of that has any bearing on the honor of the Americans killed there. Their service to their country was not conditional upon wisdom in Washington or whether they were deployed in a popular cause. They did their duty as it was presented to them, and they deserve our respect.
Trying to hide their sacrifice fools no one. Their families' grief is just as intense. The loss to the nation is just as great. And, right or wrong, we all know who sent them to war.
Disallowing pictures of coffins serves only to enable the rest of us to put those deaths out of our minds. It allows us to go about our routines without thinking about the men and women serving in our name. It shames a nation that should be proud to have produced such courage.
President Obama said Monday that "the most sobering moment" of being president, "is signing letters to the families of our fallen heroes. It reminds you of the responsibilities that you carry in this office and the consequences of the decisions that you make."
In a democracy, those are decisions we all make. The occasional reminder would do us good.