Obama Reverses Decision and Refuses to Release Abuse Photos

225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obamatorture -abu ghraibDespite earlier indications that there would be a release of detainee photos, President Obama has ordered that the photos been withheld in defiance of a judicial ruling. I discussed the development on this segment of the Rachel Maddow Show.

The Defense Department was set to release hundreds of photographs showing alleged abuse of prisoners in detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the White House has announced that the President has yielded to demands to withhold the pictures, citing the safety of U.S. troops are the reason — the very same reason given by the Bush Administration.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stated “the president reflected on this case and believes that they have the potential to pose harm to the troops. … Nothing is added by the release of the photos.” Well, there is that transparency in government thing. There is also showing the world that we are going to come to grips and take responsibility for our actions. It is hard to accept responsibility for acts that you will not disclose to the public. The value is to show that the United States will not hide its abuses or hide from its responsibility.

The Administration also ignores that enemies already have sufficient photos for recruiting. What they also have is the argument that we are a nation of hypocrites who engage in torture when it suits us — only to resist investigation of those war crimes. Concealing our abuse of detainees only reaffirms this message.

Obama’s comments come directly from the Second Circuit opinion rejecting the very arguments that he made in the press conference. The court rejected the attempt to use FOIA as “an all-purpose damper on global controversy.” Obama himself pledged in January not to allow agencies to withhold material under FOIA that would embarrass the government. To add insult to injury, he also said that the release might interfere with “future investigations” — like the investigation his administration has blocked into torture.

Here is the Second Circuit opinion, acluvdod_photodecision

For the full story, click here.

139 thoughts on “Obama Reverses Decision and Refuses to Release Abuse Photos

  1. When tyranny comes it will march under the banner of “public safety” as it always has done.

  2. This is exactly what will bring harm to our troops. Pictures and graphic accounts of people’s torture at our hands is mostly a secret to the citizens of the US. It is not a secret in the Arab world. People who we tortured and who manged to survive are writing books about their experiences. If Obama thinks denial will help our troops he is woefully misinformed on this matter.

    The only way to regain our standing in the world, to keep our troops safe, to keep our civilian population from less chance of a terrorist attack is to be strong, honorable and courageous. That means, we follow the rule of law, no matter what, no matter who. If we act with honor towards others and ourselves we show what is the best in this nation. If we grovel in aquiescence to the powerful by hiding their crimes, appeasing them by allowing them to carry on with no consequences–by continuing the evil practices of bushcheney–we are lost. Kucinich said today, “wake up America” and that is what we need to do.

  3. in response to another different posted article…

    https://jonathanturley.org/2009/05/13/pelosi-aide-speaker-was-told-about-torture-being-used-on-subjects/#comment-53013

    Patty C 1, May 13, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    This is no doubt a wiser decision upon consideration of opinions expressed in anticipation of their release by ‘both sides’
    AND in the fields.

    Unlike his predecessor this man not only listens, he thinks!

    Obama agreed to release ALL such photos in response to a FOIA request for just SOME, as I understand it.

    I am persuaded that was probably not the best idea to begin with, and I’m glad that people on both sides of the aisle also agree and more importantly, that those in the field spoke up and were heard.

    Bravo!

  4. This may be one more reason why the pictures are being disappeared:

    (from Andy Worthington)

    “Newsweek added further details, reporting that Hafed al-Ghwell, a Libyan-American and a prominent critic of the Gaddafi regime, also doubted that al-Libi had committed suicide. “This idea of committing suicide in your prison cell is an old story in Libya,” al-Ghwell said, adding that, throughout Gaddafi’s rule, there had been several instances in which political prisoners were reported to have committed suicide, but that “then the families get the bodies back and discover the prisoners had been shot in the back or tortured to death.”

    As yet, we have had no reports about the condition of al-Libi’s body, but al-Ghwell indicated that he felt that al-Libi’s death may have followed the pattern established above, but with a twist based on the recent disclosure of documents relating to the Bush administration’s policies of “extraordinary rendition” and torture, and of Libya’s involvement. “My gut feeling is that something fishy happened here and somebody in Libya panicked,” he said, adding, as Newsweek described it, that, “With the prospect that the Obama administration might release more Bush-era documents about the treatment of CIA detainees, officials in the Gaddafi regime had reasons to be concerned that their ‘complicity’ in the US war on terror would be exposed.”

  5. No one is suggesting atrocities did not occur under Bush.

    They are simply questioning the wisdom of flaunting the factual evidence to the world at the present time.

    BTW, where is the link for this?
    ?????????Abuse of detainees continues in Gitmo:?????????

    (also see the AP and Al Jazeera)
    Yemen Guantanamo detainee attempts to kill himself

    By Nasser Arrabyee, Correspondent
    Published: May 11, 2009, 16:04

    ————

    Under Obama, detainees are not currently being ‘abused’ at Gitmo.

    Prisoners receive better treatment and more freedoms, including opportunities to socialize, when they cooperate.

    Refusing food, isolating oneself, or lashing out violently does not qualify under cooperation.

    That is not to say none ever suffered severe abuses under Bush
    NOR that none currently have longstanding mental health problems.

    What it does say is that they are not yet fit for release…

  6. Simple reason and realization that I do not have all the information necessary to have a firm opinion on this matter is the only thing that is clear to a half-wit like me.

    There are good reasons we have laws – there are good reasons that we have leadership. I fear though that we have become so cynical because of the overwhelming number of feckless elected and appointed leaders we suffered in the last Administration – we excuse ourselves for overreacting, talking with our mouths full or brains half empty and we’re accustomed to being ready to rumble.

    Personally, I’m comfortable with Obama’s decision and direction based not on risking making Americans less safe – but risking making American Troops less safe, considering the planned and current operational change in Afghanistan and Iraq. President Obama is also the Commander-in-Chief and this is the kind of thoughtful intellect that mitigates risk.

    As for the argument that everyone already knows what happened – I have two comments. 1. So then why all the morbid curiosity. 2. Then there is no harm / no foul if the release to the general public of these atrocities takes place a year from now – it really won’t matter.

    I do though consider that this is a delta of historical relevance. It is understandable that a number of people, criminals if you will, serving in our government blatantly violated the law and in a clandestine manner used the legal expertise of Federal employees to undermine Federal law. It is serious. Since there is no statute of limitations on treason – I most humbly admire that our troops safety may have to trump (pardon the expression) expedient justice. At least, based on what I know and what I think I know – that’s how I stand now.

  7. You mean he didn’t keep his word again? Big surprise, he never does. Why anybody thinks he isn’t a flat out lying puppet is beyond me.

  8. ‘safety of U.S. troops’

    What the hell does that mean? It’s so vague a justification to be utterly meaningless. How does releasing photos of things that happened years ago violate the safety of US troops? It’s not as though Obama was being pressed to release the location of some secret army troop movements or give artillery to Al-Quaida. THOSE things would violate the safety of US troops. Coming to grips with our past does not.

  9. Before I come under fire for my last comment, let’s review.

    1) Broke promise to post bills online for 5 days before passing.
    2) Broke timeline to pull troups out of Iraq.
    3) Claimed to oppose all past warmongering by Bush, yet has done everything Bush would do in that regard so far.

    Besides that, he has appointed nothing but CFR members to his cabinet. The Council on Foreign Relations openly admits their desire for world government. He not only is taking trillions of our tax dollars and giving it to wall street, but he is permitting the Federal Reserve (private corporation – YES on HR1207!) to print even MORE money than that in new currency, effectively devaluing all the existing hard earned money that they haven’t yet given away.

    Who really gives a rip about whether these pictures get released anyway? The media just loves to clutter up their headlines with things that don’t matter. Regardless of all that, his actions are that of someone who condones breaking the Geneva Convention instead of someone who values human rights and accountability.

  10. Before I come under fire for my last comment, let’s review.

    1) Broke promise to post bills online for 5 days before passing.
    2) Broke timeline to pull troups out of Iraq.
    3) Claimed to oppose all past warmongering by Bush, yet has done everything Bush would do in that regard so far.

    Besides that, he has appointed nothing but CFR members to his cabinet. The Council on Foreign Relations openly admits their desire for world government. He not only is taking trillions of our tax dollars and giving it to wall street, but he is permitting the Federal Reserve (private corporation – YES on HR1207!) to print even MORE money than that in new currency, effectively devaluing all the existing hard earned money that they haven’t yet given away.

    Who really gives a rip about whether these pictures get released anyway? The media just loves to clutter up their headlines with things that don’t matter. Regardless of all that, his actions are that of someone who condones breaking the Geneva Convention instead of someone who values human rights and accountability.

  11. binx101,

    1) As pointed out in my post above, this does not reduce the safety of the troops in any way. This is simply CYA for who knows what political reason.

    2) Why the ‘morbid curiosity’? Because these photos may contain things we have NOT seen before, especially if someone in power does not want us to see them. You’re right, if we have seen all that there is to see here, our demands to release the photos are simply for completeness’ sake. However, I have a hunch that that is not the case. The decision not to release these photos only strengthens my suspicion.

    3) What makes you so sure that these photos will be released a year from now? Given the recent secrecy trajectory Obama has been on, I would not be surprised if these photos never come out. Then there would certainly be a harm and a foul. Not to say that withholding these photos now is acceptable, either.

  12. binx101,

    A better restatement of my point #2 from Greenwald:

    (6) If these photographs don’t shed any new light on what our Government did — if all they do is replicate what we already know from the Abu Ghraib photographs — then how can it possibly be the case that they will do any damage? To argue that they will harm how we are perceived is, necessarily, to acknowledge that they reveal new information that is not already widely known.

    From here: http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/05/13/photos/index.html

  13. For once prez made the right decision and some (not all) from the left are getting on him. You have then to discuss it on a Mad Cow Desease show, which is ultra-left that I can’t watch for more than 30 seconds. Myself, being from ex Soviet Union, ex-communist/socialist who knows what it is…If a spy had disclosed the video/photo etc you’d be all over him/her. ACLU does not care about civil liberties, just like ACORN it cares about itself…

  14. To formerFederalPieceOf
    Have you served in the military? I have (alas in Soviet that is). Do you even understand the military being in another not so friendly country surrounded by locals and these photos are out????Showing them on their local TV, radio, newspaper?????? YOU DO NOT GET IT M0r0n!!!

  15. What the hell does ACORN have to do with any of this? You just threw that in there because it’s the wingnut bogeman du jour, right?

  16. Shocker….captain jackass makes another decision that he has to reverse as soon as he realizes the media backlash it’s going to create. Is this retard really our president?

  17. LOL!

    The most powerful man in the world, the United States President, just announced he SCREWED UP A MONTH AGO when he agreed to release them and that releasing them very well could get American soldiers killed.

    A couple more mistakes like this big one thrown on top of the mountain of mistakes he has made so far and pretty much everybody, except for you 6, will have to agree Obama is a lunatic with no clue!

  18. Patty C writes: “Under Obama, detainees are not currently being ‘abused’ at Gitmo.”

    Uh, patty, you better google Gitmo inmates conditions Obama.

    Many of the Gitmo prisoners are saying their treatment has worsened under Obama. “Course that probably means their TV goes off at 9:00 PM instead of 10:00…..

  19. I am beginning to fear that Obama’s thinking is that people who favor prosecution of torturers, favor the release of the facts about Bush’s torture regime, oppose “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and other liberal causes, have nowhere else to go. We can’t threaten to vote Republican in 2010 or 2012. Therefore, Obama is trying to win over the conservatives and ensure his re-election in 2012. He is a politician, after all, and all politicians care about is being re-elected.

  20. A lot of trolls right on cue. Thank you for letting us know your masters are actually afraid of information on war crimes being released to the public. It’s amazing to see the many ways each troll has chosen to approach discrediting anyone who thinks the photos should be released and war crimes investigated.

  21. Good LORD help us survive this ninny we have for a President as a result of just 4% of the dumbest Americans voting for him instead of McCain because Obama was going to give them something for nothing.

  22. Hey lefties, did ya ever think the reason he decided not to release them is because most Americans would look at them and say “what’s the problem”!

  23. ABC, CBS and NBC Ignore Pelosi’s Torture Hypocrisy.

    Nothing new with that is there. They wonder why Fox is the fastest growing news network now?

  24. There have been numerous stories about Pelosi’s hypocrisy about torture on those networks. Stop lying.

  25. There is only one reason why Obama is now reversing himself on the harsh interrogation photos and that is impeachment.

    There is no question that as most assuredly American soldiers and perhaps Americans themselves were killed as a result of Obama releasing these photos; that would be a high crime and in direct violation of the oath he swore to on January 21, 2009.

    I am sure his personal attorney pointed out that all it would take is an accusation of just a single soldier’s death as a result of his decision to release the photo’s and when Democrats lose a large number of seats in Congress in 2010 (they for sure will at this rate) he could be the subject of a Congressional investigation and possible impeachment trial in the House!

  26. ABC, CBS and NBC have said nothing about the Speaker’s shifting stories, or the potential hypocrisy of her once supporting (or at least not objecting to) policies that she would later condemn as illegal “torture.”

    The current round of stories began April 22, after the Obama administration released selected memos from the Bush administration on the legal limits to interrogation. That night, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell offered a brief mention of how Pelosi was one of those who had been told: “Members of Congress were briefed at the time and reportedly didn’t dissent, including intelligence committee leaders Nancy Pelosi, Porter Goss, Bob Graham and Richard Shelby.” ABC and CBS said nothing about Pelosi that night.

    The next day, Pelosi wagged her finger as she denied ever being told that waterboarding was being used against al Qaeda terrorists: “We were not — I repeat, were not — told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used. What they did tell us is that they had…[legal] opinions that they could be used, but not that they would.”

    That contradicted what Mitchell reported the previous night, but neither NBC nor the other networks provided any updates.

    Last week, the CIA released documents showing that one of Pelosi’s top aides went to a briefing in 2003 where he heard that waterboarding was actually being used. The May 9 Washington Post explained:

    A top aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended a CIA briefing in early 2003 in which it was made clear that waterboarding and other harsh techniques were being used in the interrogation of an alleged al-Qaeda operative, according to documents the CIA released to Congress on Thursday.

    Pelosi has insisted that she was not directly briefed by Bush administration officials that the practice was being actively employed. But Michael Sheehy, a top Pelosi aide, was present for a classified briefing that included Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), then the ranking minority member of the House intelligence committee, at which agency officials discussed the use of waterboarding on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaida.

    A Democratic source acknowledged yesterday that it is almost certain that Pelosi would have learned about the use of waterboarding from Sheehy….

    Senior [CIA] officials have chafed at criticism of their interrogation activities from lawmakers who, when made aware of the programs over past years, mostly did not object. One former senior agency official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the substance of the briefings is classified, said some lawmakers, after being told of the enhanced techniques, “questioned whether we were doing enough.”

    Again, no coverage from ABC, CBS and NBC.

    On Tuesday, CNN reported confirmation that Pelosi had indeed been told by Sheehy about the waterboarding in 2003: “A source close to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now confirms that Pelosi was told in February 2003 by her intelligence aide, Michael Sheehy, that waterboarding was actually used on CIA detainee Abu Zubaydah.”

    Again — you guessed it — no coverage from ABC, CBS and NBC.

  27. Alert the media! The executives of three of the largest news outlets in the world do not agree with kelly ann’s editorial judgment! Massive conspiracy! Extra! Extra!

  28. Not releasing the photos only show that this administration is no different than the old, I believe releasing the photos would show a change in police and strengthen our position overseas.

  29. Obama is engaged in a cover-up of Bush’s torture that is worse than this instance of non-disclosure. In Glenn Greenwald’s paraphrase, he has said to Britain, “if your court describes the torture to which one of your residents was subjected while in U.S. custody, we will withhold information from you that could enable you to break up terrorist plots aimed at your citizens.” http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/05/12/obama/index.html
    Britain ought to call his bluff and release the information. Some of it is known, such as that the U.S. sliced the man’s genitals with a scalpel. http://thinkprogress.org/2009/02/09/mohamed-torture-uk-us/. What could be motivating Obama? I’m not satisfied with my suggestion in a comment above that he’s doing it to get conservative support for the 2012 election.

  30. In this instance, Mr. Obama is once again a naive, inconsistent coward.

    Yes, like some others here, I am a veteran and my brother was killed in the Viet Nam Conflict.

  31. I am a retired servicemember (US Navy). I concur with the President’s decision. Why? These new photos will provide no value. We all know what happened: American military members abused, degraded and tortured Iraqis and others in their custody. Personally, I think releasing these photos without any earnest efforts to prosecute all involved would merely re-ignite anti-American sentiments in many countries, including Afganistan and Pakistan.

    Oh, Kelly ann, until you have something sane AND credible to contribute, why don’t you leave your elephant shit over at redstate or townhall.

  32. I think this signals an unwillingness to prosecute for war crimes and torture crimes.

    If they are not going to prosecute, then releasing the photos would have been like poking a stick in the eye of the world.

    We would be saying see what we did … but we are not going to prosecute those who did it.

    Bob Dylan said “they are narrowing the distance between right and wrong” …

  33. his here from an OT posting/response elsewhere since this is the approiate thread. I should have just waited and trusted that Prof. Turley would get the breaking news up:

    alex
    1, May 12, 2009 at 6:48 pm
    “Obama to reverse decision on releasing new Abu Ghraib
    photos?”

    He sure did.

    The network news is on and some news anchor attributed the decision to not wanting to inflame the public or put our troops in more danger.

    This to me isn’t about limiting damage IMO, it’s determining where the damage will fall. This issue poisons the Justice Department, the Intelligence Community, the relationship between Congress and those communities and various Departments and the relationship between the Executive/Congress and the citizens.

    This is the defining test for this generation regarding the rule of law. The political carnage that comes from a full investigation would be massive but that’s a lesser effect than a failure to release the photos and documents and proceed with a full investigation.

    A failure to proceed would cut the heart out of the country’s self image and projection to the world that we maintain some persuasive level of moral leadership. It would also damp down, if not entirely curdle the re-newed pride and hope a large segment of the electorate went to the polls to validate. Lastly IMO, it would validate the appearance of a two-tier system of justice.

  34. If people like me have ever had to fight transparency and accountability in government by requesting numerous documents through FOIA requests and the State Public Records requests, then you understand my outrage of what Obama has done here. Once he signed a document recently stating his pledge of openness with FOIA I forwarded the message to many NGOs and I praised the man for finally reversing Bush’s secrecy. Obama is a pathetic liar.

  35. Obama gives new life to the FOIA

    A transformative directive ordering compliance with the Freedom of Information Act marks bureaucracy’s return to scrutiny.

    January 23, 2009

    In October 2001, the Bush administration took an administrative action that would prove sadly symptomatic of its rule. John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, issued a memorandum warning against casual release of information to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. Such releases, Ashcroft said, should be made “only after full and deliberate consideration of the institutional, commercial and personal privacy interests that could be implicated.” In case anyone missed the point, Ashcroft added that any bureaucrat who said no to such a request could “be assured that the Department of Justice will defend your decisions unless they lack a sound legal basis.” It goes without saying that Ashcroft did not promise any such defense of government employees who released information under the terms of the act.

    If cavalier disregard of the law and the public’s right to hold its government accountable were hallmarks of the recently departed administration, we can only hope that President Obama’s response signals a new approach. One of his first presidential acts was to issue a memo to federal agencies on the Freedom of Information Act. It opens by quoting former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ pronouncement that sunlight is the “best of disinfectants” and continues by trumpeting the act as “the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open government.” Where Ashcroft searched for excuses to withhold information, Obama directed all agencies to “adopt a presumption” in favor of releasing it.

    That is a transformation of incalculable significance. It alerts agencies that they must use their offices to inform, even when what’s revealed is embarrassing, not to shield or deflect. Moreover, it reverses the disastrous example that the Bush policies set for state and local governments. In Los Angeles and elsewhere, officials used concerns about security as a pretext to retreat from accountability, inhibiting scrutiny of police accused of misconduct and cloaking the salaries of public officials, among other dubious acts of secrecy.

    The tension between a free society and a powerful government will never disappear entirely. But Obama’s prompt action on the Freedom of Information Act restores balance to that debate. It should remind officials throughout the land that they must answer first to the public.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-ed-foia23-2009jan23,0,4722159.story

  36. I never watch the major news networks, kelly ann, because I know I can count on you to tell me what to believe. Thank you so much for your insight and persistence.

  37. Former Federal LEO
    1, May 13, 2009 at 7:48 pm
    “If people like me have ever had to fight transparency and accountability in government by requesting numerous documents through FOIA requests and the State Public Records requests, then you understand my outrage of what Obama has done here.”

    Been there, done that. A case submitted to third party investigation contained my entire file on the matter. Later when it became apparent I would never receive an answer regarding the outcome of the complain I initiated (to a Federal Agency) a FOIA request. After months and months I got the docs. Almost all of the docs were redacted to some extent, all of the ‘good stuff’- investigative process, conclusions, recommendations, redacted completely and my file docs as part of the record were redacted beyond recognition. I am amazed that anyone gets ANY info from the Feds. FOIA is lipstick on a pig in major part IMO.

  38. kelly ann, both Countdown and the Rachel Maddow show have talked about Pelosi and torture on multiple occasions. I’m pretty sure that Prof. Turley has talked about it on their shows, as well. Whose words are those that you cut and pasted here?

  39. Breaking news that new Gallup poll coming out shows massive American support for harsh interrogation including waterboarding when ordered by the President of the United States in extreme circumstances.

    Looks like Obama is pulling a Clinton: running his Presidency around POLLSTERS!

  40. NOW!

    Breaking news that new Gallup poll coming out shows massive American support for harsh interrogation including waterboarding when ordered by the President of the United States in extreme circumstances.

    Looks like Obama is pulling a Clinton: running his Presidency around POLLSTERS!

  41. MrPlow:

    Between rachel maddow & keith olbermann their aren’t more than a few hundred thousand viewers plus I have watched both and NEITHER OF THEM HAVE BROUGHT THIS PELOSI hypocrisy up other than TO MAKE EXCUSES FOR THEM.

    Plus your hero, the overbearing Turley is also making excuses for PELOSI.

  42. LKatz,

    My concern is that this decision will set the standard as Bush did and we are in for at least 4 more years of secrecy. Decisions by the president do trickle down through government. In February we submitted a FOIA request and for the first time ever the NGO is was assisting got the full information in 20 days!

    My FOIAs have averaged 4+ months, and as you noted, most of time the redactions are so heavy that the information is worthless. Appealing is time-consuming and the next request is still redacted.

  43. There has been a lot of hysteria over this change of heart about these pictures. It has even brought out the trolls in full force. As usual they do not worry about the facts.
    I am also upset that these photos are not going to be willingly disclosed, but I do not believe that they have a bearing on the investigation and prosecution of war crimes by the Bush regime. When the door is closed by Holder and the Obama Justice department, I will join the chorus claiming that Obama has sold out. But until that time, I am still a believer that the rule of law will be upheld.

  44. rafflaw,

    The reasoning for not releasing the photos is parochial and then having Obama instructing the DOJ to fight the release, after he campaigning hard for transparency, is unconscionable and abjectly hypocritical.

  45. Prof. Turley was just on the Maddow show. It was an excellent interview. The Professor made a very strong statement against whitholding the photos and against the Administration/Obama position. Excellent! I hope it gets UTubed or transcribed and posted soon.

  46. BuelahMan
    1, May 13, 2009 at 8:44 pm
    “Morphing into the previous administration”!
    —-
    Right. And the word ‘diametrically’ twice. I love the word ‘diametrically.’ :-)

  47. As someone who worked in law enforcement, I support Obama’s decision. Not only would those photos be incendiary and cause more trouble for our troops (recall Abu Ghraib and it’s blowback) but ALSO releasing the photos would compromise the integrity of the investigation.

    By NOT releasing the photos, there is less likelihood of witnesses being tainted or being ACCUSED of being tainted. This is often done in criminal investigations. The photos from a crime scene, for example, is kept under wraps until the trial so that witnesses are not influenced (or accused of being influenced) by the images.

    Any first year law student would argue that the witness had seen the picture beforehand and therefore their testimony is tainted and suspect.

    It’s very sound decision. Obama isn’t trying to cover anything up. he’s attempting to protect the investigation.

  48. I think it can be equally argued that NOT releasing the pictures is dangerous. Firstly, the shock value of new photos will not be anything like the initial photos. It’s second hand news.
    Is any extremist or potential extremist going to get fired up over MORE pictures? They have already exploited that opportunity. On the contrary, showing the new pictures indicates we are willing to air our dirty laundry, accept responsibility, and most importantly, affirm that we don’t do it any more. It is the final act in declaring an end to that type of prisoner treatment. That eliminates a recruitment argument.
    NOT releasing the pictures suggests to extremists that we have something to hide and THAT will be used as an extremist recruiting tool.
    Imagine yourself in the shoes of an Islamic extremist trying to recruit some teens to the cause or encouraging a group to go out on the attack against Americans.
    How do you suppose he will “describe” the pictures the evil Americans are concealing from the world?
    I think we are far better off coming clean.

  49. Any first year law student would…
    ________________

    What about Prof. Turley I think he passed that grade…

  50. rafflaw,

    I think JT addressed this point very clearly on RM. Obama is claiming several things, a couple of which are contradictory. One thing he’s saying is the photos just show the work of a few bad apples. As JT pointed out, 100’s of more photos are proof positive that it was most certainly not the work of “a few bad apples”. Rather this was a systemic policy initiated from the highest level and communicated to every level of those involved in torture. There was a chain of command from the DOD and the DOJ going to each of the groups under their control. This is one indisputable way in which the release of these pictures does relate to prosecutions of war crimes. The pictures are evidence linking torture to the top of the food chain because they show torture was systemic.

    I also think we have to consider carefully what FFLEO wrote about. Secrecy to protect the govt. from embarrassment is also, as JT pointed out, a very bad idea. Anything and everything may be covered over with the claim that it would make the US look bad.

    JT said this makes a mockery of our rule of law. In my opinion, it is past time to protest the actions of Obama. There is no waiting around to confront the abuse of power. It must be confronted swiftly and with as much strength as we can muster.

  51. Jill et al,
    I agree that I would have preferred that the photos be disclosed as agreed upon. However, I do not see the evidence that this will lead to a killing of investigations and prosecutions. Maybe I am just too dense, but I don’t think the photos have any bearing on whether authorizing waterboarding(among other torture techniques used)is torture or not. The photos would have no bearing on any investigation in my opinion. It does worry me that he is diluting his promise of transperency, but I still think the rule of law will be upheld. We do need to get Prof. Johnsen confirmed in the Senate asap. I think she will have a big impact on persuading Holder to put the hammer down on the Bush regime.

  52. rafflaw:

    “Maybe I am just too dense, but I don’t think the photos have any bearing on whether authorizing waterboarding(among other torture techniques used)is torture or not. The photos would have no bearing on any investigation in my opinion.”

    ************

    I don’t see it as the sine qua non either. As I said before we invest our leaders with discretion to fulfill their duties, and they are apt and encouraged to exercise it. I am sure the military intervened to convince the President that the timing was poor and that it could cost lives. If that is the case, it is a tough call, JT’s eloquence notwithstanding, and though our enemies already have pictographic motivation enough to hate and kill us, I would not want the blood of one more serviceman or servicewomen on my hands if I could achieve my purposes by other and less provocative means. I think that’s the “grown-up” position, my apologies to our host, whom I admire greatly but with whom I respectfully, in part, disagree.

  53. The best (and most unique) way that we can distinguish us, our culture, our values, our way of life, and our system of government, is to make sure that ours is a system of laws and to be courageously willing to hold our own accountable when there is wrong-doing that’s been done. If we are going to be true to our best selves, we will not rely upon some judge in Spain, or at The Hague, to do that job. We will do it ourselves. We will let the wheels of justice (our own justice) grind, albeit slowly, but exceeding fine. In the process we will serve reconciliation and enhance our reputation — as well as setting a remarkable example — throughout the world.

  54. rafflaw:

    I doubt that, but if somebody thinks that, who cares? I would rather be the man who discovers the oil field than the guy who pretty’s up the oil derrick. Kudos to the founders and the originators. Hey Bron how’s that for invoking Ayn Rand!!

  55. One thing is for sure – after skipping past the weapons-grade spam herein, there were a number of posts with very stimulating intellectual challenges. It is Raflaw though, that I think states the position that I’m most comfortable with right now. It seems to me (and I am a self-proclaimed half-wit) that I don’t have to second guess every move Obama makes.

    What I have noticed – not that there haven’t been some eloquent, fair and rationale contradictory points of view (and you know who you are)I simply just think it’s too early to get out the spray paint and marching shoes. I will though, immediately join the protest – when it is clear that the current actions aren’t in the best interest of the country.

  56. mespo,

    No, I went to Morningside College, then law school at the University of Iowa, clerked for the 8th Circuit, taught in Australia, and now practice in Des Moines.

    JW

    Rafflaw,

    The pictures would speak a thousand words to keep the pressure on to make our system work and would be consistent with demonstrating our commitment to getting the truth out and dealing with it ourselves. Governments that we do not (or should not) aspire to emulate would never do such an “embarrassing” thing for the sake of justice — we would definitely set ourselves apart by such a shining example.

    Jonathan Turley is on the mark, consistently. We are either for the rule of law, and ALL that it entails (however shameful in the short term), or we’re not.

    JW

  57. “…I don’t see it as the sine qua non either. As I said before we invest our leaders with discretion to fulfill their duties, and they are apt and encouraged to exercise it. I am sure the military intervened to convince the President that the timing was poor and that it could cost lives…”

    Great minds, mespo, great minds….

    I agree – there is still much to be said for ‘timing’…

  58. Keeping Bush’s secrets
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/#30733246

    Henry:
    “What could be motivating Obama?” Indeed, investigating the DOD, DOJ, Congress and the Executive Branch, conspiring to commit war crimes in our name. Fractional Reserve Banking is broken, thanks in part to the banksters. The economy has been in a recession since 2006. Housing bubble will still unwind 20-30 percent of value. The worlds oil based economy begins to decline/breakdown. An our exponential debt based money system needs to get replaced, with what?

  59. “When tyranny comes it will march under the banner of “public safety” as it always has done.” mespo

    “I am sure the military intervened to convince the President that the timing was poor and that it could cost lives. If that is the case, it is a tough call, JT’s eloquence notwithstanding, and though our enemies already have pictographic motivation enough to hate and kill us, I would not want the blood of one more serviceman or servicewomen on my hands if I could achieve my purposes by other and less provocative means.” mespo

    I clearly subscribe to the second…and owning many bobble heads sold at the wordpress store, are these statements compatible? Zikes!

  60. I will be joining the army shortly. I feel compelled to shoulder the burden no one else wants.

    After discovering this latest turn of events, my heart sank. For the first time in my inner self, I felt suspicion towards my new president.

    A little time passed, and the thought surfaced that among those Americans that are most hurt by our country’s failures (those on the front lines where I will soon be), this latest decision will prevent their burden from increasing. And then I believed Obama when he said he’s doing this for them.

    I eagerly await the day our past administration will stand trial. I’ve personally forgiven them, but justice must still be served.

  61. Nate,

    Hold out both your hands, I am going to fill one with shit and the other with wishes. Ok, which one fills up the first? The Government is full of wishes and shit. With Obama, I am betting that wishes will be filled up first, but the other hand is getting mighty heavy.

    That is all.

  62. CCD:

    I don’t see the two as incompatible though I did type first and think about it later in my second post. While the general principle is true, it hinges on the trust we have for the leadership in place. I had none from the outset in the previous Administration, knowing that its head was an ideologue and buffoon. One speech should have convinced anyone caring to listen.

    The current Administration is a different matter. I believe Obama understands the issues and tries to adhere to principle as evidenced by his moves to reverse numerous Bush policies. His flip-flop seems more a bow to the principle of protecting the lives of servicemen and women than aiding in the Bush cover up. Elsewise why we he bring it up in the first place. While I agree that releasing all the pictures would point to a larger and higher conspiracy to install torture as policy under Bush, I do not agree that it has to occur when the troops potentially affected thereby are in harms way of an enemy who seizes every opportunity for propaganda to recruit suicide bombers. I would agree with many of you here and our host if no pictures were in the public domain, but they are and I don’t.

    Finally, I agree that justice requires that the information–all of it–come out, but I believe that, while the delay to protect American lives, might deny the full measure of justice, it may be like vengeance in this instance and best be supped cold. Principle is likewise cold comfort when explaining to a grieving parent of a true patriot why their son had to die just months short of their return home to pay homage to the gods of justice. I think it wise here and in this instance to wait a while. There will be time for justice for the Bush-Cheney crime family, but I wouldn’t sacrifice one more life to get it.

  63. mespo:
    I’d like to drag you kicking, screaming and clawing onto a national ballot!
    Thanks for all of the above.

  64. I don’t buy any of the arguments that the administration is making. This is all a concentrated effort to sweep the entire torture issue under the rug.

  65. CCD:

    “I’d like to drag you kicking, screaming and clawing onto a national ballot!”

    **************

    You’d have to do that. Those people in DC are scary, and obviously much brighter than me. Hey I could be our first blogger President. Yippee!!

  66. “A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague.”

    M. T. Cicero

    hmmmm sounds like democrats and republicans, anyone for a third party that actually thinks about the people?

  67. “hmmmm sounds like democrats and republicans, anyone for a third party that actually thinks about the people?” Bron

    Yes, I’m ready for a less polarized state. Have no clue how one gets created though.

  68. The proffesor and Rachel ,from last night.The point in the interview that mad the greatest point to me was”these pictures show that this was more wide spread than just what happened at Abu-Ghraib”I quouted what was said as best as I could remember.
    Here is video of the interview:

  69. rafflaw,

    You can’t believe hiding those pictures will make our troops safe. It’s just the opposite. Do you really think the people fighting our troops have never seen these pictures or heard accounts, or been tortured by the US? You have to know they have. By hiding those pictures we are confirming every bad thing they’ve ever been told about the US. That’s not going to make them less likely to fight and kill our people, it’s going to make them more determined than ever. Obama is putting the troops directly in harms’ way by this decision.

    It’s clear that is not his motivating factor in refusing the release of these photos. This is to save the sorry asses of bushco and very likely the asses of international groups/countries, and the giant private contractors. These pictures would implicate them. Obama is claiming it was just a few bad apples. That’s a bald face lie and he knows it. I urge reading Glenn Greenwald on this as well.

  70. CCD:

    by finding common ground, most decent people believe in the rule of law, individual responsibility and individual liberty. I think where most people disagree is on capitalsim, what it is, how it should be used what controls or limitations should be applied, etc. I know some think socialism is a good thing and it probably is in heaven, but here on earth mans nature gets in the way of humanitarian ideals.

    Another area of disagreement is
    how best to take care of people that need help. Example, I am a dyed in the wool capitalist and think the free market gives the most benefit to the most people, but I understand that some among us are not able to fend for themselves and need a helping hand for a short period or maybe indefinitely. There needs to be some way to help these people but I see the history of government helping them as an abysmal failure from Johnsons Great Society to Bush’s Compassionate Conservatism, it dosent seem to work very well, we still have a bunch of poor people. Why? It certainly hasnt been from lack of money expended or education. (quick note from Justice Scalias comment about the right schools-Government Service, welfare for the rich and connected?
    We are paying for that simple minded wood pecker to sit on the bench, why shouldnt the sons and daughters of the middle class have a shot if they are smart enough?)

    I see a compassionate government as detrimental to our liberties and I see current rates of taxation (all levels and kinds) as a form of serfdom (granted we need to pay something to run the government). But many disagree with that. Although I dont think too many people making under about $150,000 disagree that taxes are too low.

    I also think we can agree that government spending is out of control, they are not good shepards of our money and waste a great deal on bridges for 50 people to farm subsidies and corporate welfare. I once read that someone got a multi-million dollar grant to advertise orange juice overseas. Why are we paying for that? Let the orange farmers pay for it, its their business let them pay to expand it.

    any way just some thoughts and a little venting.

  71. “about $150,000 disagree that taxes are too low.”

    I mean they wont argue that taxes are too high.

  72. Also there is a big misunderstanding about this case that needs addressing. The release of the pictures is not up to our leader’s discretion. The release was ordered by a court of law. Arguments were made and the govt. did not prevail in their case. This isn’t Obama’s decision to make. He has the legal right to appeal the decision in a court of law. Our law says he should lose. If he loses in court he has no legal authority to withold those pictures.

    It’s not about our leaders discretion and it’s not about protecting the troops. It’s CYA for war criminals.

  73. rafflaw,

    You can’t believe hiding those pictures will make our troops safe. It’s just the opposite. Do you really think the people fighting our troops have never seen these pictures or heard accounts, or been tortured by the US? You have to know they have. By hiding those pictures we are confirming every bad thing they’ve ever been told about the US. That’s not going to make them less likely to fight and kill our people, it’s going to make them more determined than ever. Obama is putting the troops directly in harms’ way by this decision.

    It’s clear that is not his motivating factor in refusing the release of these photos. This is to save the sorry asses of bushco and very likely the asses of international groups/countries, and the giant private contractors. These pictures would implicate them. Obama is claiming it was just a few bad apples. That’s a bald face lie and he knows it. I urge reading Glenn Greenwald on this as well.

  74. I thought Mr. Turley was in great form on this interview.
    Maddow too showed character over political alliance.

    Both Maddow and especially Olbermann were shameless and uncritical cheerleaders for Obama when he ran for office, even when he changed his position 180deg on the Telecom Immunity issue.
    So I was afraid they were as bad about Obama as the Faux News crew were about Bush – that their figureheads simply could do no wrong.

    But here we see some substance over form, Maddow here is actually fundamentally questioning Obama’s character and moral fiber, based upon these inexplicable information withholding decisions.

    Turley has been consistent throught, he is as harsh on Obama as he was when Bush was destroying due process of law and creating justifications ad hoc.
    His most quotable quotes here (at 3:55 on this video)

    “This administration is becoming the greatest bait and switch in history”

    “He is morphing into his predecesor”

    I really don’t understand why and how Obama is capable of making these 180deg turns within weeks; this has happened at least 3 times I am aware of. I am beginning wonder maybe someone has very damaging information on him. Something bad enough that they can make him look like a waffling fool by remote control.

  75. CCD:

    that James Madison guy is brilliant. And we have pretty much been at war since 1918 in one form or another.

  76. CCD:

    and they have definitely spent too much money in Iraq and Afghanistan on both war and rebuilding. Again Why are the American people putting up with this shizzle?

  77. Jill:

    “You can’t believe hiding those pictures will make our troops safe. It’s just the opposite.”

    *****************

    I don’t know that and likely you don’t either. Apparently the military brass, who we charge we protecting our children while at war and who have access to the relevant intelligence, believe otherwise. Are you willing to ignore their counsel and risk the life of someone else’s child in your seemingly obsessive quest for immediate gratification?

  78. Jill:

    And on your contention that the 2nd Circuit has spoken, I suggest that, in matters of national security and the interplay between the branches of government concerning this issue, the binding law is not when the good judges from NYC rule, but when the good Justices from First Street NE deny certiorari. Until then it’s opinion subject to appeal, and likely stayed opinion at that.

  79. mespo,

    I do know this from past experience. There has been a great deal of information that shows what helps recruit the most people to fight against us. It is, among other injustices, the fact that we tortured and continue to not live up to our highest moral values. This has been studied and you can look that up. It is actually something that can be factually assertained and has moved beyond the realm of opinion.
    As to the rule of law. You are arguing the unitary executive theory of David Addington. Our president had a court order, where evidence was presented by his DOJ and the ACLU, according to the proceedures of our law, and he was ordered to release the pictures. Our president may not refuse to disclose the pictures on his say so. He may, as I said earlier, appeal this to a court of law. If he appeals and loses he must disclose the pictures. He is not above the law, it is not his discretion. If he appeals and is sucessful, the pictures will not be disclosed, not because he is the president and thus able to at will disclose and not disclose information at will, but because he has a judicial ruling allowing him to prevent disclosure.

  80. M72 stated:

    “Apparently the military brass, who we charge we protecting our children while at war and who have access to the relevant intelligence, believe otherwise”
    _______________

    We who were in the military especially know that military intelligence is a prime oxymoron. Similarly, Supreme Court justice, Texas Justice, Equal law enforcement, ad nauseam.

    Look what this intelligence has gotten us so far…re Colin Powell et al.

  81. I would also point out that the same administration who supposedly cares about our troops has put them in Afghanistan to fight a counter insurgency war with their equipment not having been sent yet. I am wondering how the failure to provide equipment shows concern for our troops. For that matter I am wondering how the escalation of the war in Afganistan and Pakistan, which only forces an already stretched group of soldiers to be stretched beyond any human limit into further multiple redeployments, shows concern for our troops.

  82. I’m finding this debate very supportive of the rationale that got me to my current (and very odd) position of ‘wait and see’; and, at the same time, some sensible argument thereof, is quite relevant.

    It seems to me that similar discussions had to take place in the proximity of where that decision took place. And while it’s nice that the relationship of the political supporters of President Obama does not require the tattoo and hymn book demanded by the previous administration; and, the criticism of President Obama is intellectually unrestrained; it still seems to me that we can’t possibly arrive at a verdict without all the evidence.

    We make a lot of assumptions about information that is not public. At the risk of sounding like a total idiot (if that risk hasn’t been assumed already)I’m thinking that this argument attributes a lot of credit to facts not in evidence. It also removes this specific deed – the withholding from the public of more photographic evidence that may or may not be used in the prosecution of American citizens.

    I’m listening to a lot of supposition – about a lot of indecision – and others have this all figured out with a simple connecting the dots to “rules-of-law” and presto – solved. Wow … impressive … but I’m not buying it. I have a difficult time believing that we’re having the same argument that has been going on in the West Wing with the same level of detail or the same consequences for getting it wrong.

    That being said – I’m very grateful that we’re getting this information in real-time, and the argument is happening in the open and well …. it seems like good argument if it eventually gets us to operating closer to the likes of the Constitution – and the return of the operating principles that were jettisoned under the cover of Homeland Security during the last Administration.

    What I don’t think is necessary or helpful are the comparisons to the Bush Administration (Including JT’s) Personally I believe that serves only to narrow the breadth of the argument and it’s just cutesy name calling – considering that Bush/Cheney
    epithets are incendiary.

  83. The misunderstandings, Jill, belong to you. I stated the matter accurately in my original post.

    Initially, Obama decided to go beyond the initial FOIA request.
    That part WAS at his discretion because he did not HAVE to do it. That’s one.

    Where is Obama ‘claiming it was just a few bad apples.’?
    That’s two.

    Despite what you think, you are not making the arguments that JT is making nor for the same reason, although I believe you think you are.

    I object to your wild notion that Obama is ‘in bed’ with the former administration! It is a fabulously ridiculous starting position.

    I dare say, I see you attempting to do what Dick Cheney is by blurring the line BETWEEN the two administration as much as possible.

    He’s trying to cover his butt.

    You actually want people in this country to feel less safe than we really are.

    Why do YOU hate America, Jill? ; p

  84. ‘It is, among other injustices, the fact that we tortured and continue to not live up to our highest moral values. This has been studied and you can look that up. It is actually something that can be factually assertained and has moved beyond the realm of opinion.’
    —-
    Thank you for not stating, again, that torture and/or abuse of detainees not only continues but has intensified under the present administration!

  85. “What I have noticed – not that there haven’t been some eloquent, fair and rationale contradictory points of view (and you know who you are)I simply just think it’s too early to get out the spray paint and marching shoes. I will though, immediately join the protest – when it is clear that the current actions aren’t in the best interest of the country.”

    Binx,
    Coming late to this party I find my presence unnecessary given your above summation, which I heartily second. Kudos to Mespo, Rafflaw and Patty C. as well for apt argumentation.

  86. Catty P sayed:

    “I dare say, I see you attempting to do what Dick Cheney is by blurring the line BETWEEN the two administration as much as possible.”

    Why do YOU hate America, Jill? ; p
    ______________

    Professor Turley wrote and said:

    “Now, in the continue *morphing* with the prior Administration,* Barack Obama is considering a continuation of the Bush policy of indefinitely detaining suspects without trial.”
    _________________________

    Oh my God! Hit the Presses! ‘Fesser Turley hates America!

  87. For Democrats and others, this is our time after 9/11. I never believed that all Republicans were evil and morally depraved, so that’s why they followed Bush no matter what. Most people who said, my president right or wrong, thought bush was a great man. They did not conceive of him as having a will to power. They believed he meant to “keep us safe” and was working for the greater good of our country. When he said he was protecting our troops and protecting our society, that was the truth, pure and simple. The problem was that while many good hearted people believed this, bush was off amassing untold power for himself. It was a relatively small group who objected to the PATRIOT Act and the other actions right after 9/11 that were put in motion to destroy our Constitution. By the time of the war, many more people saw this as the lie it was, but were still dismissed as unloyal Americans. It was claimed these were people who just didn’t see the president wouldn’t really be engaged in unlawful activity. He was a nice guy.

    We live in similar times now. There is undeniable evidence of executive power grabs and malfeasance by Obama. While those who say the president could not possibly being doing these things, he is doing them. We have to be careful not to fall into that trap as a nation again.

  88. I began watching George W. Bush closely before his nomination.
    I knew he would be a disaster if he got elected. I discussed the Republican candidates with my former mentor who knew the Bushes through Yale. He confirmed what I already believed.

    There is no comparison between Dubya and Obama. There never was and there will never be, in my view. They are cut from different cloth.

    Obviously, JT does not hate America and neither do I necessarily agree with him on every contention he makes. I know why he is doing it and how little time he has to make the point.

    That’s different and you can’t compare those two things either.

  89. Patty C wrote:

    “I know why he is doing it and how little time he has to make the point.”
    ________________

    Seriously, Patty, are you suggesting that Professor Turley is rushing his judgment just to post *something/anything* on his blawg?

  90. I’m talking about the small allotment of time on MSMs.

    You know what, talk to Jill because I do not agree with you and likely never will and I don’t need the aggravation of you snidely dogging my every comment.

    Grow up or leave me alone.

  91. FFLeo:

    “We who were in the military especially know that military intelligence is a prime oxymoron. Similarly, Supreme Court justice, Texas Justice, Equal law enforcement, ad nauseam.

    Look what this intelligence has gotten us so far…re Colin Powell et al.”

    ******************

    While I agree the military is far from perfect, your comment reminds me of that famous line from “Casablanca” when Major Strasser rebukes the “bumbling American Army” of WW1. Capt. Renault quips, ” I was with them in 1918, when they bumbled into Berlin.” Perfect or no, they appear to have accomplished much of what they set out to do, and I am willing to extend them the benefit of the doubt.

  92. FFLeo:

    Patty C is undeniably correct. Segments on “red meat” shows like Olbermann and Maddow (yes and O’Reilly, too) do not lend themselves to nuanced debate and fine distinctions. It’s all bright lines and big statements. Does JT really believe that Obama, after 113 days or so on the job, is “morphing into his predecessor”? I think not, but he is concerned. Join the “Concerned Club,” as we all have. During the 4-5 minutes of “facetime” that you have to think and answer, you need to get the point across to the target audience. In matters of policy you need a lot more than just sound bites; you need considered judgment and sensitivity that what you do has consequences for all involved. It is always easy to vociferously opine when there are no consequences arising from your pronouncement. It’s a tad tougher when folks might die if you’re wrong. I give more credit to the man in the arena than our little Greek chorus in the peanut gallery–and more deference too.

  93. Mespo,

    While you’re absolutely right about the situation in being in a short segment of a news show, what both you and Patty seem to be ignoring is that JT’s posting on this blog seem to be a fleshed out version of his more public appearances. Now I have no insight into the Prof’s mind, so I’ll just take him at his word that this is what he believes.

  94. Look what this intelligence has gotten us so far…re Colin Powell et al.”


    Thanks mespo

    I think FFLEO has forgotten, or perhaps was never aware, that George W. Bush bolted the door against Colin ‘you break it you own it you fix it’ Powell before a Cabinet meeting once – supposedly for being ‘late’.

    And despite having been treated rudely and dishonestly, he remained to serve ‘at the pleasure of the President, especially, once the Iraq effort was underway. He could have made a political statement, but knew that’s not what was needed as there was no turning back.

    And thus, ‘The Pottery Barn Rule’ which Michelle Obama has apparently taken to heart…😉

  95. Gyges:

    “…JT’s posting on this blog seem to be a fleshed out version of his more public appearances. Now I have no insight into the Prof’s mind, so I’ll just take him at his word that this is what he believes.”
    ********************

    I agree with that statement, but my point was that the tone and subtleties are different in a compressed environment versus a more deliberative one, and even more so when your comments are a decision instead of an advisory opinion.

  96. Mespo,

    Understood. I just wanted to point out the JT was being consistent rather than toning it up for any particular audience.

  97. Apologies if this has already been covered, but I’m only about half way through this page (it’s hard to get caught up with this blog when you take a break ;-)). I think that this most of the posters here are getting worked up about something that, at worst, isn’t a big deal and, at best, is a very good idea. In order to make my point, let me first indulge in a somewhat hyperbolic hypothetical on the consequences of releasing the photos: We release the photos leading to protests in the streets of muslim nations – the protests in Pakistan are the straw that breaks the camel’s back and the government falls to the Taliban leading to the country’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of Al Queda. The flip side of this argument (which I think is the likely course of events) is the administration appeals the decision to the SCOTUS and buys a couple of months until they uphold the lower court’s decision (at which point the administration can decide whether to release the photos covered under the FOIA request or all of them like they were going to). I think that everyone would want President Obama to follow the latter course. I see this as a delaying tactic by the administration which does very little (or no) harm and potentially avoids very serious (even if unlikely) risks. We don’t have access to the same information as the President – that’s why we hire presidents to make the decision at the time, not to blindly follow some previous position. I rejoice in the President Obama changing his position – I see it as evidence that he is actually thoughtfully considering the issues before him, something that we never saw from his predecessor. And for those that say that the Obama administration is following in the Bush administration footsteps: get real – even if you want to give President Obama poor marks on a straight scale, he gets an A+ if you grade him on the Bush curve!

  98. M72 said:

    “Does JT really believe that Obama, after 113 days or so on the job, is “morphing into his predecessor”? I think not, but he is concerned.”
    __________

    Are you paying attention to what you are writing? Do you know better of what “JT” is saying than he does. You are sayng he does not believe what he states or does not state what he believes.

  99. JT clearly backed up his statements with references to actions taken by Obama. To believe he doesn’t mean what he said one has also to believe he picked out facts that back up what he’s saying, but he didn’t really mean to point out these facts either. So he’s making statements he doesn’t mean and backing them up with facts he doesn’t mean either.

  100. Jill,

    I think that you and I look at issues differently that M72 and PC. I have no problem following Professor Turley’s arguments because he is succinctly consistent within this blawg and during his interviews.

  101. FFLEO,

    I am certain that we do! It’s my second administration in a row that I’ve been called a traitor under.

  102. FFLeo:

    “You are sayng he does not believe what he states or does not state what he believes.”

    *************************

    I think there is a difference between well-grounded statements of opinion and hyperbole. I think this morphing language is the latter. He certainly doesn’t mean it literally, thus it is already an illustrative example. I just think the illustration is more caricature than portrait.

  103. Yes Sir; however, we all understand what Professor Turley is stating even with his expressions of wit or hyperbole.

  104. Jill wrote:

    “I am certain that we do! It’s my second administration in a row that I’ve been called a traitor under.”
    ________________

    Well then, you are a very consistent traitor; an admirable quality!

  105. mespo727272 1, May 14, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Gyges:

    “…JT’s posting on this blog seem to be a fleshed out version of his more public appearances. Now I have no insight into the Prof’s mind, so I’ll just take him at his word that this is what he believes.”
    ********************

    I agree with that statement, but my point was that the tone and subtleties are different in a compressed environment versus a more deliberative one, and even more so when your comments are a decision instead of an advisory opinion.

    Secretly, JT would prefer being a political commentator
    – in his next life…

    I’m finding it infinitely satisfying when people echo my thinking. Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery
    – even when the credit is bestowed to someone else!

  106. Jill:

    “JT clearly backed up his statements with references to actions taken by Obama. To believe he doesn’t mean what he said one has also to believe he picked out facts that back up what he’s saying, but he didn’t really mean to point out these facts either. So he’s making statements he doesn’t mean and backing them up with facts he doesn’t mean either.”

    *****************

    He’s doing what good advocates do-namely choosing the facts and presenting them in the order and in the manner he chooses for the greatest impact to support his position. Those that do not fit, he discards. That’s not being disingenuous; that’s lawyering. Notice he did not rebut the President’s concerns about troop safety in his Maddow interview, and totally discounted it as a causative factor except only to say there already are pictures out there. That’s ok, but it doesn’t make the issue go away. Maddow herself states that the ACLU says the pictures will “outrage” us. What makes you think it won’t re-outrage those who would do us harm. Notice Professor Turley takes no issue with that statement of the ACLU either. He’s a fine lawyer, but here on this blog tonight we are judging the President’s conduct not advocating, and in my judgment, the Professor, whom I respect and admire and who is exceedingly eloquent and logical, is likewise wrong.

  107. The “think about the troops” reasoning is nothing more than special pleading, in my opinion. If the pictures are released and violence increases, they’ll say the pictures caused it, and if they aren’t released and violence increases they’ll make up some other reason for it. I don’t really think the pictures are any of the public’s business, to be perfectly honest. If Mr. Obama and the Democratic leadership keep refusing to hold people accountable, we will just keep fighting. If they just did the right thing for once in their life, we could save ourselves all this trouble.

  108. I would agree that Pres. Obama is attempting to delay the photos, but when the court orders them to provide them, he can play both sides by saying he tried to convince the court not to release them. I do not think he will go to the Supremes because I don’t think he really wants to stop the photos, he just wants to be able to claim that the court ordered it, not him.

  109. I can’t remember where I read this, but government officials said that all Obama has to do is classify these documents and he can keep them hidden as long as he wants pretty much.

  110. Hi Matthew,

    That isn’t correct. Obama may claim state secrets (and he has done this to prevent evidence of rendition leading to torture from surfacing, for example in the Jeppesen Data Plan case) but the courts have told him on several occassions now, that he may not claim a blank check to conceal evidence on the basis of state secrets. These pictures are a case in point. The court ruled he must release the pictures. One of the best explanations of what happened in this case is outlined by Glen Greenwald. I would check out his site.

  111. Jill:

    Actually the Second Circuit ruled that the pictures were subject to the FOIA because the government could not prove that a specific individual or individuals faced a risk of harm as a result of the release. It also ruled in an ancillary matter to our discussion that the privacy rights of those depicted could be maintained by redacting certain identifiers in the photographs. The Court did not rule the releasing the photographs would have no impact on the safety of the troops in general just that the FOIA required a showing of specific endangerment to an identifiable person or group of persons. I think this is a significant interpretation of the FOIA and SCOTUS may well involve itself to define the scope of the endangerment exclusion of the statute. Should the government, at some point in the future, be able to identify a specific target of attack resulting from the release, I think the decision will be different.

  112. Jill,

    President Obama is perfectly within his rights to take whatever argument he wants and appeal the circuit court’s decision to the SCOTUS. I fail to see what is sinister about this method to buy some time before these pictures are released (which his information may indicate is highly desirable). To me, the only worrisome possibility is that the SCOTUS will reverse the lower court and even if that is the case, my first assumption would be that they were given a compelling reason for doing so.

  113. mespo,

    No one is above the law – except for those who are so far above it they won’t bother with sorting the minutia required to understand it…😉

  114. I commend The President for attempting to stop the release of additional Torture photos. Crimes were committed, some were punished, others, hopefully, will follow. As someone who has never been in the service, I can only speculate how much, and to what extent, the line of humanity and mores are blurred under the cover—and under the influence—of the Fog of War. And while many have been up in arms about the treatment of detainees their ire should also be directed at the actual criminal act itself that dragged us into war in the first place. Cheney should be persecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Because of his lies thousands of American Lives have been lost merely to fit his agenda. Fathers, Sons, Nephews, Mothers, Daughters, Friends and Neighbors, have died because how Cheney acted like the sick and sadistic piped piper that he is, leading this nation into the abyss of an utterly needless, senseless, War.

    Some may say that prosecuting a Vice President for Crimes is un-American. I’m not suggesting Cheney be prosecuted for war crimes. He should be prosecuted for lying to the American People, thus LEADING them into War. Pre-meditated Murder. He knew, absolutely knew, that lives would have been lost or lives would have manned, physically and emotional. He knew that the lives of American Service men and women would never, EVER, be the same again. He should be prosecuted for deceiving the American people, people who lived, loved and would die for their country.

    Micky, West Orange, NJ

  115. “Matthew Alexander, the principled interrogator in Iraq who chose to play by the rules, rather than embracing Cheney’s “Dark Side” (and later wrote an excellent book about his experiences), and was originally posted on VetVoice.

    If We’re Going to Reveal More Memos …

    Former VP Dick Cheney has requested the release of additional memos showing that torture and abuse saved American lives by preventing terrorist attacks. If the Obama administration decides to release these memos, then I suggest they also release statistics from Iraq showing the number of foreign fighters that were recruited because of our policy of torture and abuse. It was tracked. I know because I saw the slides and because I heard captured foreign fighters state this day in and day out. The government can also release the statistics that show that 90% of suicide bombers in Iraq were these same foreign fighters. These foreign fighters killed hundreds, if not thousands, of American soldiers.

    After these revelations, Americans can judge whether or not a policy of torture and abuse kept us safe. Unfortunately, we’ll never be able to evaluate the damage that was done to past or future interrogations. As I experienced firsthand, detainees were less likely to cooperate when they viewed us as hypocrites. We can’t establish the trust that is required to convince a detainee to cooperate unless we live up to the principles that we preach.

    I had one detainee in Iraq, a previous al-Qaeda fighter, who provided me with all the information he knew willingly without me having to run an interrogation approach. He told me that al-Qaeda had accused him of being a mole and tortured him before we rescued him. He then proceeded to say that the reason he was going to cooperate was because we didn’t torture him and because of that, he knew everything that he’d been told about us by al-Qaeda was wrong.

    Before 9/11, the protection of American soldiers from terrorist attacks was a priority for our country. Consider our responses to the Beirut Bombing, Khobar Towers, and the USS Cole. When we talk about keeping Americans safe from terrorist attacks, we need to include all Americans, especially those that serve in uniform.

    Matthew Alexander spent fourteen years in the US Air Force and Air Force Reserves. An “investigator turned interrogator” who deployed to Iraq in 2006, he conducted more than 300 interrogations and supervised more than 1,000. Alexander was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his achievements in leading the team that located Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, who was killed by Coalition Forces. He is the author of How to Break a Terrorist: The US Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq.”

    (from Andy Worthington’s site)

  116. Here is the latest info on these photos Evidently the information has been confirmed by General Taguba. Part of these were released a while back. It is a mistake for us not to release them ourselves. A good documentary on Abu Ghraib is:

    “Standard Operating Proceedure”
    This film clearly shows this torture was in no way the work of “a few bad apples”, but was in fact, ordered from the top.

    “Abu Ghraib abuse photos ‘show rape’
    Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.

    By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent and Paul Cruickshank
    Last Updated: 8:21AM BST 28 May 2009
    Iraq prison abuse: Abu Ghraib abuse photos ‘show rape’
    A previous image of Iraq prison abuse

    At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

    Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/5395830/Abu-Ghraib-abuse-photos-show-rape.html

  117. This is an important story of the release of secret KBG files in the Ukraine. It is interesting to see how another country is dealing with their past/present abuse of power by top officials. It’s well worth reading, given that we now face the same situation: (via BBC)

    “Ukraine is opening up part of its old KGB archive, declassifying hundreds of thousands of documents spanning the entire Soviet period.

    But the move to expose Soviet-era abuses is dividing Ukrainians, the BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse reports from Kiev.

    Deep in the bowels of Ukraine’s former KGB headquarters there is a deathly silence. Thousands of boxes, piled floor to ceiling, line the walls. Each box is carefully numbered and each one contains hundreds of documents: case notes on enemies of the former Soviet state.

    Behind each number, there is a story of personal tragedy.

    Volodymyr Viatrovych, the chief archivist, pulled out a brown cardboard folder stuffed full of documents: case number 4076. At the centre of the case is a letter, dated 1940 and addressed to “Comrade Stalin, the Kremlin, Moscow”.

    A photo of Ivan Severin shot in the head (right) and the words: Liquidated. 3 April 1947
    Ivan Severin was “liquidated” in 1947, his case notes state

    “Dear Iosif Vissarionovich,” the letter starts. Nikolai Reva wanted Stalin to know the facts about the great famine of 1932-33, when millions died as a result of the Soviet policy of forced collectivisation.

    Like many at the time, Mr Reva believed that Stalin was being kept in the dark, and that if only he knew what was happening, he would surely put a stop to it.

    But his letter landed him in the Gulag. He was eventually rehabilitated – 25 years later.

    Many met a harsher fate.

    Leafing through one of many macabre photo albums, Mr Viatrovych pointed to a picture of Ivan Severin, shot in the head by the Soviet security services. Under the picture, in very neat handwriting, is written: “Liquidated, 3 April 1947″.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8119320.stm

  118. When are Obama supporters going to accept that he is not a beacon of open, fair, transparent government and—in fact—an enemy of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) unless challenged in court? I have a strong, growing dislike toward the man for whom I voted and I cannot wait until 2012 to do my best to see that he leaves the office of the U.S. Presidency in defeat as an abject hypocrite and liar.

    While—even as a conservative Republican—I doubt that I could learn to despise him as I have Bush/Cheney, I want him out of office so that I do not have the opportunity to find out over 8 full years of his lies, hypocrisy, and deceit that result in additional loss of our freedoms and further the loss of life and destruction in wars-for-profit.
    __________________________________

    Quote:

    [ Gates Bars Torture Photos’ Release
    — By Nick Baumann | Fri November 13, 2009 9:17 PM PST

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates has used powers granted to him by a controversial new law to block the court-ordered release of numerous photos of detainee abuse, government lawyers revealed in a court filing [PDF] Friday evening.

    Gates’ new authority comes from a law, signed by President Barack Obama last month, that gives the Secretary of Defense the power to rule that photos of detainees are exempt from release under the Freedom of Information Act. Gates’ action on Friday was the first use of the new FOIA exemption since it passed Congress last month. The photos in question are the subject of a years-long legal fight by the American Civil Liberties Union, which first filed a FOIA request for records pertaining to detainee treatment, rendition, and death in May of 2005. The case is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court.” ]
    _________________________________

    More @ Mother Jones:

    http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2009/11/gates-bars-torture-photos-release

  119. Quoted excerpts from the article:

    Supreme Court Rules Against ACLU In Case Of Detainee Abuse Photos

    The Supreme Court has thrown out an appeals court ruling ordering the disclosure of photographs of detainees being abused by their U.S. captors.

    In doing so Monday, the high court cited a recent change in federal law that allows the pictures to be withheld.

    The administration appealed the matter to the Supreme Court, but also worked with Congress to give Defense Secretary Robert Gates the power to keep from the public all pictures of foreign detainees being abused.

    Gates invoked his new authority in mid-November, saying widespread distribution of the pictures would endanger American soldiers.

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who served on the 2nd Circuit until August, did not take part in the court’s consideration of the case, Department of Defense v. ACLU, 09-160.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/30/supreme-court-rules-again_0_n_373842.html

  120. I am speechless. Which how the statists want me to be.
    Pure searing censorship of what should be public domain knowledge. This is a government not representing the people, but an entity unto itself.
    “You can’t handle the truth” they say to us.

    Disgusting and horrid.

  121. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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