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Obama Shifts on Release of Abuse Photos

Posted by dorian on May 13, 2009

Obama seeks to block release of abuse photos

By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

(05-13) 11:12 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) —


President Barack Obama is seeking to block the release of hundreds of photos showing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan being abused, reversing his position after military commanders warned that the images could stoke anti-American sentiment and endanger U.S. troops.

The pictures show mistreatment of detainees at locations beyond the infamous U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Obama’s decision came after top military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan expressed fears that publicizing the pictures could put their troops in danger, a White House official said Wednesday. When the Abu Ghraib photos emerged in 2004 of grinning U.S. soldiers posing with detainees, some naked, some being held on leashes, they caused a huge anti-American backlash around the globe, particularly in the Muslim world.

Obama decided he did not feel comfortable with the photos release, and was concerned it would inflame tensions in Iraq and Afghanistan, put U.S. soldiers at higher risk and make the U.S. missions in those two wars more difficult, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the president’s decision had not yet been made public.

The move represented a sharp reversal from Obama’s repeated pledges for open government, and in particular from his promise to be forthcoming with information that courts have ruled should be publicly available.

As such, it was sure to invite criticism from the more liberal segments of the Democratic Party that want a full accounting — and even redress — for what they see as the misdeeds of previous years under former President George W. Bush.

Federal appeals judges have ruled, in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, that the photos should be released. After those losses in federal court, the Justice Department concluded that any further appeal would probably be fruitless.

Last month, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president had concurred, though without commenting on whether Obama would support the release if not pressed by a court case.

Through an arrangement with the court, the Pentagon was preparing to put out, by May 28, two batches of photos, one of 21 images and another 23. The government had also told the judge it was “processing for release a substantial number of other images.” The total number of photos to be released was expected to be in the hundreds.

The official emphasized that the president continues to believe that the actions depicted in the photos should not be excused and fully supports the investigations, prison sentences, discharges and other punitive measures that have resulted from them. But that is not likely to quiet Obama’s critics.

Indeed, the ACLU quickly lambasted Obama’s move.

“The decision to not release the photographs makes a mockery of President Obama’s promise of transparency and accountability,” said ACLU attorney Amrit Singh, who argued and won the case in front of the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. “It is essential that these photographs be released so that the public can examine for itself the full scale and scope of prisoner abuse that was conducted in its name.”

The president last week instructed administration lawyers to challenge the release in court and to make the case that the national security implications of such a release have not been fully presented, the official said.

The president informed Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, of his decision during a White House meeting on Tuesday.

Gen. David Petraeus, the senior commander for both wars, had also weighed in against the release, as had Gen. David McKiernan, the top general in Afghanistan. Gates fired McKiernan on Monday for unrelated reasons.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said military “commanders are concerned about the impact the release of these photos would have for the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq,” and that Defense Secretary Robert Gates shares their concerns. Gates wanted the photos blocked from release or at the very least delayed, Morrell said.

Military commanders’ concerns are most intense with respect to Afghanistan.

There the release would coincide with the spring thaw that usually heralds the year’s toughest fighting. Morrell also noted the release as scheduled would come as thousands of new U.S. troops head into Afghanistan’s volatile south.

Associated Press writers Anne Gearan, Devlin Barrett, Lara Jakes and Pauline Jelinek contributed to this report.


13 Responses to “Obama Shifts on Release of Abuse Photos”

  1. dorian9 said

    my two cents:

    i think it’s wise not to publish the photos at this moment. although the incidents took place under the helm of past administration, it can and will incite more anti-american sentiment. we have troops and many other americans outside of our country and they will bear the brunt of angry reaction to those photos. obama will be criticized for taking this action but he will take that over the risk of endangering americans.


  2. Princess said

    i watched stuff about this last nite on hardball w/ chris matthews.
    the head of the ACLU and some iraqi vet.
    it is going to be a great disappointment if the people responsible are not held accountable. i heard over 2000 photos of torture. so, it’s not just some fluke with a few people.

    and, i guess the footage was from the white house dinner, but women in gowns were screaming in rumsfeld’s face “war criminal, war, criminal”.
    loved it, the screaming in gowns.

    but that is what they are, and they should be tried & CONVICTED.
    i doubt we will ever see that. if the photos are withheld, americans will just let it pass. pictures do paint a 1000 words.


  3. dorian9 said

    yeah this one’s gonna be a mess. it’s bound to implicate many, all the way to the top. nixon was forced to resign because of watergate. torture of foreign prisoners is worse. current administration is vying for time here, probably weighing out worst case scenarios figuring out their strategies. i saw the msnbc footages too. that was intense!
    the republicans are not going down without taking any democrats with them.
    they’ve got their clutches on their most hated one, nancy pelosi.

    i’m sure when those pictures are released(they have to be, eventually) we’re back to ugly americans again. it would be wise not to wave those blue passports around outside of the country.


  4. Princess said

    i just saw joseph lieberman on tv saying it is in the past and should be let go. something like that. he doesn’t want an independent council investigating, says congress already has too much on it’s plate.

    and that insaney cheney, with, we never tortured. he really is an evil man.

    a good point was made by jessie ventura, he said “give me a waterboard, dick cheney and an hour and i will have him confessing to the sharon tate murders.”
    he is right, people will say anything to get out of torture, i know i do.


  5. dorian9 said

    i probably will too. that jessie ventura guy was funny.

    cheney was part of that delusional team. of course he’ll deny.


  6. Princess said

    this is my favorite post at the moment. i love all this intrigue and coverup.
    nancy pelosi is being truthful when she says the cia lies.

    “Jimmy Carter wanted the U.S. Government’s UFO secret documents declassified. George H W Bush, at the time CIA director, more or less told Carter that the President of the United States did not have the need to know the information contained in those documents. Can you even begin to imagine that? What lends even more mind-blowing credibility to this alleged event between Carter and Bush is the credibility of the allegation maker: Daniel Sheehan.”

    that article can be accessed here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/501971/jimmy_carter_the_ufo_president.html

    and we never did get to see the rest of the photos and videos from abu ghraib. soldiers sodomizing young men. stuff like that. coverup.

    the CIA acts independently of the laws of the land. and i’m sure that evil george h w bush is still involved. and his wife barbara. we would not have had these horrors of the last 8 yrs if it weren’t for that horrible barbara. my case for abortion.


  7. dorian9 said

    yes I saw a documentary on that – carter wanting to open the roswell files. didn’t clinton want the ufo files made public too? cia is scary.stuff that x files are made of. next post, ufo files! that would be a first. then maybe it should be posted over at sanctuary. e. e ??


  8. Princess said

    yes, that sounds like a good idea. ufos and aliens do have a lot of politics involved, but it is more esoteric.
    i will take a nap and get back to you.


  9. Paul said

    Do you really imagine that there are still people in Afghanistan who haven’t made their mind yet? They are already aware of what happened and releasing more photos is not going to increase anti-American sentiment. The reason he doesn’t want to release the photos because it will increase domestic and western pressure on him for a full frank and open inquiry into the war crimes of George Bush and Co, something he doesn’t want to do. Indictbushnow.org


  10. Princess said

    good job paul. that is exactly right. it isn’t going to make the extremist muslims hate the u.s. anymore than they already do. it is the american public that they don’t want to see the photos. we have every right to know exactly what is going on.

    i doubt bush & co will ever be indicted. g h w bush is still too involved in the cia.

    i am so proud of pelosi to have the balls to stand up and call the cia liars. that is a true american.


  11. dorian9 said

    obama is a very adept tactician. why encourage a full on investigation? although the previous executive office will be the one implicated he also wants to protect the sovereignty of the presidential position. i bet he’s good at chess. the king is never left open and unprotected. that would invite attack.

    bush? he still untouchable as long as his daddy still has friends in the agency.

    princess, confess you just want to see those marquis de sade pictures.

    i confess i’m just wanting to keep my american head when i go abroad next month.

    it’s nancy vs the entire republican army and the cia.
    go nancy go!!


  12. Princess said

    you are right, i do want to see the pictures. mans inhumanity to man.

    i don’t want you to lose your head, were are you going? paris?

    really, though, they can say torture, torture, torture in words over and over again.
    i don’t think many get that concept until they actually see it themselves. it looks much worse than it sounds.

    i am taking a breather for a day or 2, a friend suggested i do some breathing exercises. that sounds like a great idea to me. maybe my friend is just jerking me around. sometimes he gets arrogant that way.

    l’odore di gardenie


  13. dorian9 said

    for deep breathing exercises see


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