President Obama once pledged that his government would be the most transparent in history — a claim that is often mocked by civil libertarians and other critics who accuse him of almost Nixonian secrecy policies and inclinations. That troubling record is playing out again before U.S District Court Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The Administration continues to fight to withhold over 2,000 images of torture and abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan simply because it would make the United States look bad. Ironically, there is a transparent element to this case. Few Administration have been so transparently obvious in their use of classification rule to simply bar the disclosure of information that would be embarrassing to officials or the government. Usually, the Justice Department attempts to spin a tale of some other national security rationale for non-disclosure. Here, however, there is nothing even plausible to come up with. The Obama Administration simply wants to deep six the photos because people would be really angry if they saw what the government did, including photos that are believed to be far worse than those Abu Ghraib (like the one above).
Hellerstein gave the Justice Department until December 12th to come a rational explanation why each individual photograph has been withheld from the public. In 2009, Obama insisted that disclosing the photos would “further inflame anti-American opinion.” However, that rationale could be used for wholesale cover ups and information controls by the government. The government never wants bad information to come out and would prefer to say that it is protecting the public from any backlash. This includes criticism of Obama’s pledge, soon after being elected, not to allow the prosecution of officials responsible for the torture program. Whatever the backlash, it is far more dangerous to allow the government to pick and choose what “bad news” or bad images will reach the public. The photographs are also important for historians and academics in fully documenting this period of history.
Such censorship is more likely to be an effort to manage domestic public opinion than it is extreme foreign elements. If Obama can do this on detainees, the next president can use the same power in countless other areas. Obama supporters have been willfully blind to the precedent that they are creating in such positions.
The Obama Administration has set the record for censoring information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The penchant for secrecy in this Administration is creating a new level of government control over information that will likely be replicated by the next Administration. No administration wants to release negative information unless it has to do so. That latter prospect is now in the hands of Judge Hellerstein.
60 thoughts on “Obama Administration Fights To Withhold Over 2,000 Photos Of Alleged U.S. Torture and Abuse”
Jan. 6, 2016:
I’m still unable to find the current status of Judge Hellerstein’s torture photo release order. Left as a comment to Prof. Turley’s post all I got was a silly quip. Have the photos been released? Has the judge found the administration in contempt? Has the administration found a way delay?
I’ve been unable to find a ruling from Judge Hellerstein. He gave the Obama administration until Dec.12 to release the torture photos. Anybody out there know the current status of this court order?
It is on the bottom of the pile.
Reblogged this on Today,s Thought.
I would think that the men who reported the beatings and testified against the Rabbi are now shunned by the Orthodox community.
Sorry . comma didn’t take. Torture.
Back to the article
…this was iraq….not isis not al qeda but iraq insurgents within a state fighting for their state govt of iraq. Sadams troops. As such pows pictures can’t be made public. Part of some geneva deal. Now we could make them public….therby admissions….for some type of modern hague. Not saying that shouldnt happen. But i would note that a modern hague was kinda superceded by the Icc on the same topics of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Now we arent a signatory to the icc….but if we were we’d have first shot at prosecuting our own. Which we have to trust was done here? To which it is obe….all the pix will do is inflame our current enemy. One pix is a thousand words. 2000 like the one above will demoralize americans themselves. While inflaming jihad. If we want transperancy and accountibility lets request a specific commission to go thru the pix and ensure all the perps were tried. What good does it do for us all to see them all? No good comes of it. Certainly the ppl in congress have seen them….so what if we all see them we call congress? to do what exactly? Make us feel better with a resolution we condenm what we already condemn done on our name? Someday if iraq ever gets a grip they canmount a case. No need to give a silver platter that will only inflame swords.
what does these ridiculous graphics have to do with the topic? get a grip.
It is not the Star of David, it is the Pentagram of Satan
The #1 priority of most (not all) politicians is to destroy America’s constitutional “rule of law” – that’s why they pit Americans against one another to divide us. This distracts attention away from this #1 priority that most politicians from both parties support.
Madison and the Framers designed a constitutional “rule of law” system instead of a “faction v. faction” model used by despots for thousands of years throughout world history. They didn’t want a Bolshevick model of government where the current political party in power rewards or punishes citizens based on their political affiliation, then when the opposing party gains power those rewarded then get punished since their party is out of power.
That’s why both parties allow warrantless spying, sending people to Gitmo without charge, torture, trial or even guilty verdict, blacklisting and assassination programs. Since Obama didn’t correct Bush’s crimes against humanity, the next Republican leader will likely dish out punishment to Democrats. Democrats can’t complain a bit when that happens since they have been silent for nearly 8 years. Obama could save the constitutional “rule of law” but he also supports a “faction v. faction” model similar to the Bolshevicks.
Fascinating post. It will be interesting to see what happens
The Science Geek
70% of Americans did NOT want Obamacare so they went behind closed doors and forced it through. Do you really expect anything other than Fascist behavior from this administration?
Obama paid $5 mill to keep his personal records sealed so I’m sure he’ll have no problem protecting us from the 2000 photographs as well. You know he only has our best interests at heart.
Patriot: I watched all 3 videos on the veterans today link. Very eye opening . It’s my belief that the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Canada, Turkey, Italy, and France are all controlled by the same crime syndicate. Some call it the Khazarian mafia. Of course there’s no honor among thieves as the saying goes. Israel can’t be blamed for 911 without also blaming the U.S. They have exactly the same NWO agenda, the same controllers, the same puppet masters. This information is way too much for most people on this blog to comprehend. If they don’t already get it, they’re not going to make any effort to enlighten themselves. Instead you’ll get the tin hat treatment, not that you should care.
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