View Full Version : Obama Fights Release Of New Torture Photos - So That's What 'Change' Means!

Peter Lemkin
05-14-2009, 07:03 AM
Obama Administration Reverses Promise To Release Torture Photos (5/13/2009)

Decision Betrays Commitment To Transparency And The Rule Of Law :boring:

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK The Obama administration announced today that it is reversing its promise to make public photos depicting detainee abuse by U.S. personnel overseas. The Department of Defense had told a federal judge that it would release a "substantial number" of photos in response to a court ruling in an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

"The Obama administration's adoption of the stonewalling tactics and opaque policies of the Bush administration flies in the face of the president's stated desire to restore the rule of law, to revive our moral standing in the world and to lead a transparent government. This decision is particularly disturbing given the Justice Department's failure to initiate a criminal investigation of torture crimes under the Bush administration.

"It is true that these photos would be disturbing; the day we are no longer disturbed by such repugnant acts would be a sad one. In America, every fact and document gets known whether now or years from now. And when these photos do see the light of day, the outrage will focus not only on the commission of torture by the Bush administration but on the Obama administration's complicity in covering them up. Any outrage related to these photos should be due not to their release but to the very crimes depicted in them. Only by looking squarely in the mirror, acknowledging the crimes of the past and achieving accountability can we move forward and ensure that these atrocities are not repeated.

"If the Obama administration continues down this path, it will betray not only its promises to the American people, but its commitment to this nation's most fundamental principles. President Obama has said we should turn the page, but we cannot do that until we fully learn how this nation veered down the path of criminality and immorality, who allowed that to happen and whose lives were mutilated as a result. Releasing these photos as painful as it might be is a critical step toward that accounting. The American people deserve no less."

More information about the ACLU's FOIA lawsuit, which has resulted in the release of more than 100,000 government documents to date, can be found online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia

Peter Lemkin
05-14-2009, 08:49 AM
I almost never post a CNN report...but...

Obama Blocks Release of More Torture Photos
by mcjoan

Wed May 13, 2009 at 12:44:04 PM PDT

This is an unwelcome and probably futile policy reversal from President Obama:

(CNN) -- President Obama has ordered government lawyers to object to the planned release of additional detainee photos, according to an administration official.

The Defense Department was set to release hundreds of photographs showing alleged abuse of prisoners in detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Last week, the president met with his legal team and told them that he did not feel comfortable with the release of the [Defense Department] photos because he believes their release would endanger our troops, and because he believes that the national security implications of such a release have not been fully presented to the court," the official said....

The release is in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. It follows President Obama's decision to release Bush-era CIA documents showing that the U.S. used techniques like waterboarding, considered torture by the current administration....

In a March 7 letter to the Obama administration, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, expressed concern over the new photographs.

"We know that many terrorists captured in Iraq have told American interrogators that one of the reasons they decided to join the violent jihadist war against America was what they saw on Al-Qaeda videos of abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib," the senators wrote. "Releasing these old photographs of detainee treatment now will provide new fodder to Al-Qaeda's propaganda and recruitment operations, undercut the progress you have made in our international relations, and endanger America's military and diplomatic personnel throughout the world."

The Defense Dept. had previously agreed to release the photos by May 28 as part of a lawsuit filed years ago by the ACLU. President Obama's reasoning on reversing this decision seems dubious. The more this administration is seen as continuing the policies of the previous administration, the more damage will be done to us internationally.

It's just as arguable that Al Qaeda and any other terrorist organization will be able to recruit if President Obama doesn't make a clean break with and repudiation of Bush/Cheney policies as it is that these photos will do further damage. It's not like the rest of the world doesn't know the United States tortured at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo, and at every other detention facility. And what "national security implications" there could be at this point should have been well hashed out. Importantly, President Obama has ended the policy of torture, and done so very publicly. Thus, further evidence of these formerly used "methods" should no longer relevant to our national security.

Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU attorney who has been working the case, responds, pointing out the tenuous legal position the administration will be taking.

"It is inconsistent not only with commitments the Obama administration has made to us and to the courts but inconsistent with the promise of transparency that President Obama has repeated so many times," he said.

Jaffer, who has filed suit for the release of these photographs under concerns over civil liberty violations and possible detainee abuse, noted that the Obama White House still had a steep hill to climb in its efforts to suppress the release of the photos. Jaffer has won his case in the district court in New York as well as a three-judge appeals court. The Bush Administration, towards the end of its term, asked the full Second Circuit Appeals Court to review the matter. They refused to do so.

"At this point," Jaffer said, "the burden is on the government because there is a court order that requires them to release these photos. So they are either going to have to seek Supreme Court review or come up with some creative strategy to get yet another hearing below the lower courts."

"These photographs are critical to the historical record so it is very disappointing... that the administration is going to try and suppress them," he added.

The primary question this leaves is why President Obama is allowing the likes of Graham, Lieberman, and the Cheneys to set the terms of the debate on torture?

Update: Think Progress has more, and a strange reversal from the Pentagon:

On April 23, the Justice Department said that it would release the 44 photos as part of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU. At the press briefing the next day, Gibbs made clear that the Obama administration believed it was legally bound to take this action:

GIBBS: The Second Circuit Court ruled in December of 2008 that the photos had to be released. The previous administration lost a court case on that. The Department of Justice decided based on the ruling that it was hopeless to appeal, and a mandate ordering the release of those photos came Monday. And the administration, the Pentagon, and the court entered into an agreement to release those photos.

Peter Lemkin
05-28-2009, 02:45 PM
Word has it that some of the unreleased photos show a) a male soldier raping a female prisoner and 2) a male soldier raping a male prisoner. If this is true, and if they come out, they will make the earlier abu ghraib photos look like a children's party! :flute:

Dawn Meredith
05-28-2009, 05:28 PM
Word has it that some of the unreleased photos show a) a male soldier raping a female prisoner and 2) a male soldier raping a male prisoner. If this is true, and if they come out, they will make the earlier abu ghraib photos look like a children's party! :flute:

Peter (etc):

Abu Ghraib Abuse Photos 'Show Rape'
Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.
by Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent and Paul Cruickshank

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

PHOTOGRAPHS of Iraqi prisoner abuse which US President Barack Obama does not want released include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported. Prison guards secure the main gate of the newly named Baghdad Central Prison in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib February 21, 2009.
REUTERS/Mohammed AmeenFurther photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

The graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US President's attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier promise to allow them to be published.

Maj Gen Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the President's decision, adding: "These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.

"I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan.

"The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it."

In April, Mr Obama's administration said the photographs would be released and it would be "pointless to appeal" against a court judgment in favour of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

But after lobbying from senior military figures, Mr Obama changed his mind saying they could put the safety of troops at risk.

Earlier this month, he said: "The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to inflame anti-American public opinion and to put our troops in greater danger."

It was thought the images were similar to those leaked five years ago, which showed naked and bloody prisoners being intimidated by dogs, dragged around on a leash, piled into a human pyramid and hooded and attached to wires.

Mr Obama seemed to reinforce that view by adding: "I want to emphasise that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib."

The latest photographs relate to 400 cases of alleged abuse between 2001 and 2005 in Abu Ghraib and six other prisons. Mr Obama said the individuals involved had been "identified, and appropriate actions" taken.

Maj Gen Taguba's internal inquiry into the abuse at Abu Ghraib, included sworn statements by 13 detainees, which, he said in the report, he found "credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses."

Among the graphic statements, which were later released under US freedom of information laws, is that of Kasim Mehaddi Hilas in which he says: "I saw [name of a translator] ******* a kid, his age would be about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn't covered and I saw [name] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid's ***.... and the female soldier was taking pictures."

The translator was an American Egyptian who is now the subject of a civil court case in the US.

Three detainees, including the alleged victim, refer to the use of a phosphorescent tube in the sexual abuse and another to the use of wire, while the victim also refers to part of a policeman's "stick" all of which were apparently photographed.

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This article is from a site called Common Dreams.org

Magda Hassan
05-28-2009, 10:25 PM
And then there are the pictures of torture and rape of children. They think it may be too much even for the rednecks to handle.

Peter Lemkin
05-29-2009, 07:14 AM
How did we get and train / desensitize such monsters in our military - and how far away are they from what the Nazi troops and SS/SA were doing, if only in extent? Anything can happen when simple people, steeped in the myths of Empire believe they are fighting a holy war against the infidel and 'devil' - when, in fact, the evil is within us...... Obama was correct about one thing. Release of these photos would cause great anger in the Muslem world - as well they should - and throughout the world - including [one would hope] at home - to stop these things from ever happening again. They hide them so they CAN continue and they will......:banghead: