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Obama backtracks on torture images « Previous | |Next »
May 14, 2009

President Barack Obama is seeking to block the immediate release of hundreds of photos showing U.S. personnel allegedly abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan despite promising a new openness in government. Obama two weeks ago announced that he would release these photos and videos. 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 reasons for this reversal have varied. The White House has said that the president now:

strongly believes that the release of these photos, particularly at this time, would only serve the purpose of inflaming the theaters of war, jeopardizing U.S. forces, and making our job more difficult in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

The torture videos, like the torture photos, would, if released, generate anti-American sentiment and make the US look bad. Disclosure of such evidence would harm America's national security is the standard neocon argument.

Seymour Hersh has said in a speech to the ACLU that children were sodomized in front of women in the prison, and the Pentagon has tape of it.

Presumably the Australian Government does not want the facts disclosed about the way that Australian government agents broke the law by collaborating in the torture of Australian citizens (eg.,Mamdouh Habib). They are also intent on covering up the Australian government's wrongdoing.

Obama has form in preventing evidence of the Bush administration's torture program from becoming public. Glenn Greenward says that if the Obama administration actually is worried about inflaming anti-American sentiment and endangering our troops, then:

we might want to re-consider whether we should keep doing the things that actually spawn "anti-American sentiment" and put American soldiers in danger. We might, for instance, want to stop invading, bombing and occupying Muslim countries and imprisoning their citizens with no charges by the thousands. But exploiting concerns over "anti-American sentiment" to vest our own government leaders with the power to cover-up evidence of wrongdoing is as incoherent as it is dangerous. Who actually thinks that the solution to anti-American sentiment is to hide evidence of our wrongdoing rather than ceasing the conduct that causes that sentiment in the first place?

It takes a lot of faith to accept that the American invasion of Afghanistan (which occurred in November 2001) will end any differently from any previous invasion of that country. And it takes even more faith to avoid recognizing that the Taliban crisis in Pakistan is an effect of the war in Afghanistan, rather than a cause — and that Pakistan’s turmoil is unlikely to end before the U.S. winds down its campaign in Afghanistan.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:46 PM | | Comments (5)


I fail to see how hiding evidence while admitting it exists is going to do anything to silence critics of US foreign policy.

dj's right. A news report last night said Obama's also stuck with military tribunals and whole Gitmo setup. The Black Hole of Bush.

Obama could find himself remembered as the president who meant well.

He doesn't even mean well, he's looking to expand the war into Pakistan and meanwhile he shovels money to his Wall Street mates.

Meet the new boss, same as the old....

It is a process of deflating the expectations about Obama as saviour of the world I guess. He's just another US president concealing evidence of government wrongdoing. The US is still occupying foreign countries two Muslim countries); killing civilians regularly with airplanes and unmanned sky robots and imprisoning tens of thousands of Muslims with no trial, for years.

The empire continues with a new emperor with Obama continuing to run Bush/Cheney's war machine.

Obama is still trying to block public demand for investigations and prosecutions into the Bush torture program. He uses really pisses me off that Obama used the Bush phrase "small number of individuals" when he knows that this was a systematic torture program, authorized by Bush and Cheney.