President Obama Reverses Course on Releasing More Detainee Abuse Photographs

President Obama met with White House counsel Greg Craig and other members of the White House counsel team last week and told them that he had second thoughts about the decision to hand over photographs of detainee abuse to the ACLU, per a judge's order, and had changed his mind. The president "believes their release would endanger our troops," a White House official says, adding that the president "believes that the national security implications of such a release have not been fully presented to the court." At the end of that meeting, the president directed Craig to object to the immediate release of the photos on those grounds. In an Oval Office meeting with Iraq Commander General Ray Odierno, the president told him of his decision to argue against the release  of the photographs.  The move is a complete 180. In a letter from the Justice Department to a federal judge on April 23 , the Obama administration announced that the Pentagon would turn over 44 photographs showing detainee abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Bush administration. The photographs are part of a 2003 Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU for all information relating to the treatment of detainees -- the same battle that led to President Obama's decision to release memos from the Bush Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel providing legal justifications for brutal interrogation methods, many of which the International Committee of the Red Cross calls torture. "Through his actions from the first days of his administration, the president has made it clear that the United States will hold itself and all the men and women who serve our country to the highest standards of conduct," a White House official says. "The president would be the last to excuse the actions depicted in these photos... But the president 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."    Yesterday White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about a letter from Sens. Joe Lieberman, D-Ind., and Lindsey Graham, R-SC, asking him to reverse the decision, saying the "release of these old photographs of past behavior that has now been clearly prohibited can serve no public good, but will empower al-Qaeda propaganda operations, hurt our country’s image, and endanger our men and women in uniform." Gibbs said "obviously, the president has, has great concern about any impact that pictures of detainee -- potential detainee abuse in the past could have on the present-day service members that are protecting our freedom either in Iraq, Afghanistan, or throughout the world. That's something the president is very cognizant of. And we are working to -- we are working currently to figure out what the process is moving forward." -- jpt

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...