During military action, military officials suppress news, control interviews, limit press access and delay transmission of stories. This makes it impossible for reporters and photographers to tell the public the full story of the war in a timely fashion.
In early 1946, the General Headquarters of the Allied Powers banned further filming of the after effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing and ordered confiscation of all film that was not included in a 1946 documentary by the USA. During the Gulf War: the Pentagon was alleged by news organizations to have used the press to disseminate misleading information; officials deprived reporters of visas when they had visited so-called restricted areas; reporters were subject to a bayonet charge; reporters were barred from further reporting activity after asking questions forbidden by military guidelines; interviewers were interrupted by military escorts when asking penetrating questions; officials censored information from news reports only to release the same information on the next day; reporting of the ground war was effectively absent because of lack of collaboration on matters of equipment and access. In 1993 declassified reports acknowledged that despite wartime claims, none of the 1,500 missions against Scud missile launchers resulted in any hits. Planes had great difficulty hitting mobile or well-concealed targets: only 20% of the tanks destroyed were destroyed by air attack. None of the three initial objectives for the air force were in fact achieved.
The use of propaganda and disinformation by all parties during the Gulf War was widespread and effective in achieving its purposes. The Coalition forces succeeded in giving and maintaining the impression that this was a "clean" war in which the high-tech weapons resulted in negligible human casualties. In order to promote this impression wide use was made in press briefings of video film demonstrating the accuracy of new weapons, military spokespersons avoided discussion of the human cost of the war. The phrase "collateral damage" was used to describe civilian casualties. In spite of the fact that up to 100,000 Iraqi soldiers and an unknown number of civilians may have been killed in the hostilities, there was little coverage in the media of the horrifying and "unpalatable" aspects of the war.
Despite having dropped a greater tonnage of bombs on Laos from 1962 to 1973 than during World War II, the USA long denied or ignored the consequences of this bombing by asserting that bombs were dropped on uninhabited jungles. The remaining lethal debris in agricultural lands continues to create victims amongst farm workers there.