The image showed a somber-looking Defense Secretary Gates in Germany at the bedside of a US soldier wounded in Iraq.
In the original photo's left half (not seen here), the wounded soldier was seen on a respirator and was apparently unconscious or asleep.
The picture was part of this photo gallery showing Gates presenting the Purple Heart to wounded soldiers that day at a US military hospital.
Two days after the photo was taken and the photo gallery was posted on the Pentagon Web site, the photo disappeared from the photo gallery and the DoD Web site without explanation.
Before it vanished, the image was described this way on the DoD site:
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates pauses after presenting the Purple Heart to (the soldier's name and rank) at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, June 13, 2007. Defense Dept. photo by Cherie A. Thurlby.
After four days of IraqSlogger pushing for an explanation for why the photo was pulled, a Pentagon insider explained the photo's disappearance this way: the wounded soldier (who's still alive) hadn't given his permission to be photographed.
Controversial Pentagon rules forbid embedded news outlet photographers from publishing an image of an identified or identifiable wounded service member without his or her permission -- and that rule presumably applies to the official photographer accompanying Secretary Gates.
Yet, in this case, the Pentagon mistakenly violated its own permission-required rule, belatedly addressing the lapse two days later by pulling the image.
IraqSlogger has the full photo and the soldier's name and rank, but will not release the original photo or identify the soldier given the circumstances.