Thursday, September 29, 2005

Judge Orders Release of Abu Ghraib Photos

I've lost count--isn't this like the 87th time a judge has ordered the release of this stuff?

A federal judge ruled today that graphic pictures of detainee abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison must be released over government claims that they could damage America's image. Last year a Republican senator conceded that they contained scenes of "rape and murder" and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said they included acts that were "blatantly sadistic."

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ordered the release of certain pictures in a 50-page decision that said terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven they "do not need pretexts for their barbarism."

The ACLU has sought the release of 87 photographs and four videotapes taken at the prison as part of an October 2003 lawsuit demanding information on the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody and the transfer of prisoners to countries known to use torture. The judge said: "Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command. Indeed, the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed."

What is shown on the 87 photographs and four videos from Abu Ghraib prison that the Pentagon has blocked from release? One clue: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress last year, after viewing a large cache of unreleased images: "I mean, I looked at them last night, and they're hard to believe." They show acts "that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhumane," he added.

A Republican Senator suggested the same day they contained scenes of "rape and murder." Rumsfeld then commented, "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse."
Worse, indeed. The assministration folks heading up the Department of Delay, Obstruction and Obfuscation couldn't have planned for this to come down the same week that anyone and everyone with an "R" after their names seem to be getting fitted for horizontal stripes. Release the photos, and hope they get lost in the larger shitstorm, or stall some more? Decisions, decisions.

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