Despite 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
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