Obama To Block Torture Photos Release?

Via McClatchy:

"Obama moves to stop release of detainee abuse photos

President Barack Obama is seeking to withhold photos depicting abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, aides said Wednesday, citing concerns "their release would endanger our troops" and could endanger national security.

The decision marks an about-face from the administration’s decision last month to release 44 photographs in response to a federal court order in New York nearly three years ago. The order was issued in connection with an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit brought against the Department of Defense under President Bush. The Bush administration had challenged the release.

Obama's move also will renew speculation about the nature and severity of the abuse revealed in the photos."

[video update] 400 soldiers have been disciplined for these crimes but not one politician or high ranking officer has been thrown in jail for ordering it.

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To be honest, we risk further damage to the integrity of this nation and the rule of law if we continue down this disastrous path. This comes on the heels of news, via Salon's Glenn Greenwald the other day, that Obama exerted pressure on Brittish courts to suppress information on America and the UK's involvement in torture:

 "Ever since he was released from Guantanamo in February after six years of due-process-less detention and brutal torture, Binyam Mohamed has been attempting to obtain justice for what was done to him.  But his torturers have been continuously protected, and Mohamed's quest for a day in court repeatedly thwarted, by one individual:  Barack Obama.  Today, there is new and graphic evidence of just how far the Obama administration is going to prevent evidence of the Bush administration's torture program from becoming public.

In February, Obama's DOJ demanded dismissal of Mohamed's lawsuit against the company which helped "render" him to be tortured on the ground that national security would be harmed if the lawsuit continued.  Then, after a British High Court ruled that there was credible evidence that Mohamed was subjected to brutal torture and was entitled to obtain evidence in the possession of the British government which detailed the CIA's treatment of Mohamed, and after a formal police inquiry began into allegations that British agents collaborated in his torture, the British government cited threats from the U.S. government that it would no longer engage in intelligence-sharing with Britain -- i.e., it would no longer pass on information about terrorist threats aimed at British citizens -- if the British court disclosed the facts of Mohamed's torture. 

As I wrote about in February, those threats from the U.S. caused the British High Court to reverse itself and rule that, in light of these threats from the U.S., it would keep seven paragraphs detailing Mohamed's torture concealed."

Yay! We are using the threat of terrorism to aide in the cover up of serious war crimes. And if all of this sounds familiar to you? From Harper's in February and on the exact same case:

Bush Administration Threatened Britain Over Torture Disclosures

By Scott Horton

A British court’s judgment makes plain that it believes that a British subject held at Guantánamo was tortured, and that the United States had threatened the British Government over disclosure of the details of the torture.

The Guardian reports:

Evidence of how a British resident held in the Guantánamo Bay detention camp was tortured, and what MI5 knew about it, must remain secret because of serious threats the US has made against the UK, the high court ruled today. The judges made clear they were deeply unhappy with their decision, but said they had no alternative as a result of a statement by David Miliband, the foreign secretary, that if the evidence was disclosed the US would stop sharing intelligence with Britain. That would directly threaten the UK’s national security, Miliband had told the court.

The revelations prompted immediate action in Parliament:

David Davis, the Conservative MP and former shadow home secretary, said ministers must urgently respond to the allegations that Britain was complicit in torture. He demanded a Commons statement from the government on the ruling, calling it “a matter of utmost national importance”. Davis said: “The ruling implies that torture has taken place in the [Binyam] Mohamed case, that British agencies may have been complicit, and further, that the United States government has threatened our high court that if it releases this information the US government will withdraw its intelligence cooperation with the United Kingdom. “The judge rules that there is a strong public interest that this information is put in the public domain even though it is politically embarrassing.

In essence, Bush Administration officials, led by John Bellinger, the legal adviser to Condoleezza Rice, were threatening the British Government with retaliatory measures if the British Court were to compel the disclosure of the torture.

Meanwhile, in other torture news:

CIA Refuses to Turn Over Torture Tape Documents

No votes yet


"At this point, it looks like Obama plans to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, and if they lose there (as they have at all previous levels), they won't have any choice about releasing them.

In the meantime, they'll now be using up their political capital to defend Dick Cheney and his merry band of torturers. Now, that's a lovely prospect, isn't it? I'm sure Cheney will repay him generously for the effort."

I'm sure Obama has thought this issue through and has good reasoning behind what he's doing.  After all, he should want this material released more than anyone--he has a vested interest in wanting to see Bush/Cheney and the GOP demonized.  But from what I understand, they're worried about the impact the pictures are going to have on the Muslem people, which seems like a legitimate concern to me, considerning the Taliban is within sixty miles of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

I want to see the pictures released too, and I sincerely hope that they further criminalizes the Bush administration, but I think that many of the people who are jumping up and down for their release are putting politics before good sense. Obama, orn the other hand, has this crazy tendency to put what's in the best interest of the country before political concerns, and he's privy to a lot more information than we are, so I'm going to take a wait and see approach on this matter.  I lean towards trusting his judgment, that's why I voted to put a deliberative man with a powerful intellect and good judgment in the White House in the first place.

Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everybody who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

of any efforts that try to extend the power of ANY president's office above the law, regardless of gamesmanship that may be involved. You have to remember that this case could land in front of an right wing extremist minded Supreme Court. Dangerous precedence can come from those right wing activist judges.

This is going to do much more damage than what excuse Obama is making as well as the detractors of!!


It ramps up the propaganda from those we're occupying and fighting and diminishes our own propaganda!!


The hole has been dug So Deep Now we shouldn't be digging it deeper, and Everyone in the Region Already knows Exactly what went on and was done!!


Wrong Reasoning!!

"The wise man points to the stars and the fool sees only the finger - and discusses it 24/7 on cable."

100% there.

Others will.

The Sydney Morning Herald:

MORE photographs have been leaked of Iraqi citizens tortured by US soldiers at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Tonight the SBS Dateline program plans to broadcast about 60 previously unpublished photographs that the US Government has been fighting to keep secret in a court case with the American Civil Liberties Union.