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. 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!

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

  3. 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.

  4. FFLEO,

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. Mespo,

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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… 😉

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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?

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

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