Archive for May 14th, 2009|Daily archive page

Obama: Publication of Detainee Abuse Photos Is Bad, Abuse Was Done by Small Number of Individuals

In Civil Liberties, Torture on May 14, 2009 at 9:02 am

Reversing the stance he took last month on allowing publication of detainee abuse photos, Obama will now actively pursue barring such photos from publication in the media.  He also contends that abuse was carried out by a small number of individuals, indicating that he does not believe detainee abuse was a widespread problem:

The administration said last month that it would not oppose the release of the pictures, but Mr. Obama changed his mind after seeing the photographs and getting warnings from top Pentagon officials that the images, taken from the early years of the wars, would “further inflame anti-American opinion” and endanger troops in two war zones. The decision in effect tossed aside an agreement the government had reached with the American Civil Liberties Union, which had fought to release photographs of incidents at Abu Ghraib and a half-dozen other prisons.

To explain his position, which was sharply criticized by the A.C.L.U., Mr. Obama spoke at the White House.  He suggested that the new mission in Iraq and Afghanistan could be imperiled by an old fight.  “The publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals,” Mr. Obama told reporters on the South Lawn. “In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

Officials who have seen the photos describe them as falling into two categories: Abu Ghraib-style personal snapshots taken by soldiers; and photos taken by military criminal investigators documenting allegations of abuse, including autopsy photos of prisoners who died in custody.

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