Obama To Block Torture Photos Release?
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.
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:
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.
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: