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ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos

We may finally get to the bottom of the Administration's "few bad apples" meme. The ACLU won another round in federal court today in its FOIA lawsuit.

A federal judge has ordered the Defense Department to turn over dozens of photographs and four movies depicting detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq as part of an ongoing lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"These images may be ugly and shocking, but they depict how the torture was more than the actions of a few rogue soldiers," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "The American public deserves to know what is being done in our name. Perhaps after these and other photos are forced into the light of day, the government will at long last appoint an outside special counsel to investigate the torture and abuse of detainees."

Talk about chutzpah, the Administration invoked, of all things, the Geneva Conventions to argue against release.

Attorneys for the government had argued that turning over visual evidence of abuse would violate the United States's obligations under the Geneva Conventions, but the ACLU said that obscuring the faces and identifiable features of the detainees would erase any potential privacy concerns. The court agreed.

"It is indeed ironic that the government invoked the Geneva Conventions as a basis for withholding these photographs," said Amrit Singh, a staff attorney at the ACLU. "Had the government genuinely adhered to its obligations under these Conventions, it could have prevented the widespread abuse of detainees held in its custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay."

The Government has until June 30 to comply. The photos and some videos were originally made by SPC Joseph Darby, who pleaded guilty and cooperated against other Abu Ghraib guards.

The court order filed late yesterday requires the government by June 30 to reprocess and redact 144 detainee abuse photographs provided by Sergeant Joseph Darby to the Army's Criminal Investigation Command. The order also requires the government to provide the court with an estimate of the length of time it will take to reprocess and redact four movies included as part of the Darby collection by June 10. The decision comes after the court privately viewed eight of the images from the Darby collection to determine whether the photographs should be released under the FOIA. The ACLU expects redacted versions of the photographs to be released within the next six weeks.

You can read the court order here.

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  • Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#1)
    by Darryl Pearce on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:37 PM EST
    ...oh, the evil that Men* do. * used in a generic sense of human beings both male and female. I stumbled across this forlorn speech by Robert Kennedy appealing for calm after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. ...sniff

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#2)
    by jarober on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:37 PM EST
    That's because - as much as you would like to believe otherwise - we are following the convention. The people held there are illegal combatants, NOT POWs. They have lesser rights than POWs, but they still retain some protections. Why aren't they POWs? 1) They weren't fighting in uniform 2) They hid in the civilian population, endangering them Those two things deny them POW status.

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#3)
    by jarober on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:37 PM EST
    For a deeper explanation of what I was talking about, read Sanctuary Part I and Sanctuary Part II

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#4)
    by Darryl Pearce on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:37 PM EST
    Illegal unlawful combatants held in a self-admittedly outlaw detention facility... Oh, wait! That's Guantanamo. We were talking about Abu Ghraib that's holding insurgents (or maybe foreign fighters, or was it dead enders?) in Iraq. And those are the places we know about but we'll never know about other places because Bush said some things would happen in secret.

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:37 PM EST
    James I believe we all understand the current administrations stance on Illegal Combatants. The problem with the concept is while it may have a tenuous legal standing it has never been applied before. Not even against the Germans in WWII who committed similar acts. Nor was it used against the Vietcong. So why is it an ethical practice now? How can we as Americans, the good guys, allow this to continue?

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#6)
    by Andreas on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:37 PM EST
    One shound note that James Robertson in his comments above responded to a decision to release evidence about torture.

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#7)
    by Ernesto Del Mundo on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:37 PM EST
    Andreas...yes the implication from JR has been that it is OK to torture "illegal combatants". Of course this is following the lead of this administration, whose apparent goal is to turn the United States into the very definition of a rogue state.

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:38 PM EST
    Is it really ok to torture anyone? Aren't we better than that? Isn't America all about the high road? Isn't that why the rest of the world supposedly emulates us? I don't care if they were illegal combatants or psychotic rapists and cannibals, due process and the rule of law is the American way, not torture.

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#9)
    by john horse on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:38 PM EST
    (with apologies to Bertolt Brecht) What Makes America Great? What makes America Great? The fact that thousands are daily tortured, stifled, punished, silenced and oppressed America is great thanks to its brilliance in keeping its humanity repressed And for once you must try not to shirk the facts America is made great by bestial acts

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#10)
    by jarober on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:38 PM EST
    During WWII, Many of the Germans who dressed in American uniform were summarily shot (Battle of the Bulge). So sure, we didn't treat them the same way - we were far, far harsher then.

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:38 PM EST
    And JR, it's pretty easy to identify a German in an American uniform, is it not? So, how then, does America tell the difference between a terrorist and a guy who pissed off his neighbour and got himself "denounced?" And how do you do this without violating his right not to be tortured, held without charge and/or "rendered?" Oh, that's right- they're ALL terrorists, right? Hmmm? Eagerly awaiting your answer...

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:38 PM EST
    So by your reasoning JR, any special forces or cia agent not in combat uniform should be considered an illegal combatant and forfeit their human rights. If one soldier is wearing camos and another all black which one is in uniform? CIA operatives do not wear uniforms, does that give foreign gov'ts and insurgents the right to assault them? Slippery slope. Iraq does not have an army, if the insurgents can prove they were part of an organized militia, than by law it would seem that they should be treated as a soldier in an opposing militia. Heaven forbid we ever get attacked by china and russia simultanteously and those that would fight on behalf of our country sans uniforms would be considered illegals and detained without representation.

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:38 PM EST
    That's because - as much as you would like to believe otherwise - we are following the convention. The people held there are illegal combatants, NOT POWs. They have lesser rights than POWs, but they still retain some protections. Even if we accept your contention that these people were illegal combatants, and even the miltary admits that many of the detainees were innocents caught up in sweeps and were guilty of nothing, they still have to be treated humanely. So what is your point?

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#14)
    by roger on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:38 PM EST
    To ignore Frenia's point (which I agree with), does JR really believe that ALL of the prisoners are illegal combatants? What about the Iraqi generals that were beaten? Even if you accept JR's premise, it's still BS

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#15)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:38 PM EST
    to paraphrase the Conventions: Should doubt arise as to whether a detainee, having committed a belligerent act, should be entitled to protection of the Conventions, the detainee is entitled to the protection until their status is determined by a competent tribunal. From a legal analysis perspective: 1. You would have to determine that a person being detained had in fact committed a belligerent act. Being a supporter of the Taliban or even Al Qaeda might not constitute a belligerent act. Poorly documented reports that a person had committed a belligerent act that are made by a third party who is being paid to turn over an alleged belligerent should be immediately suspect with regard to motive. 2. Assuming that a person is detained on reasonable suspicion of having committed a belligerent act, they are entitled to the protection of the Conventions until such time as a competent tribunal determines their status. Years now after people have been detained, some on completely questionable ground, after detainees have been beaten, tortured, disappeared and killed, the US has reluctantly set up a tribunal that may or may not qualify as competent per the conventions. 3. If a competent tribunal determines status and sentences a detainee to torture, beatings, sexual humiliation, Palestinian hangings, I guess we have to decide just how competent the tribunal really is. Luckily we have folks like JR to tell us its really ok. He and Jim should spend 10 minutes in the Palestinian hanging status and then get back to us to explain again how this is really more like frat hazing, not really torture. They never had it so good.

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#16)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:38 PM EST
    JR, your comments are, in a word, outrageous. The issue isn't whether the detainees are POWs or "illegal combatants" or any other designation. The issue is the use of torture by our troops in a facility operated by our military and under the command of military officers. Are you suggesting that because, by your definition, these detainees are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions (a definition with which I vigorously disagree), the use of torture is therefore both permissible and laudable? Such behavior on the part of anyone, especially our military, is shameful and patently illegal and to condone it, defend it or rationalize it is equally shameful. Not to mention that these acts dishonor our military and destroy any credibility we may have in the world. FYI, I am a retired senior military officer with 28 years active duty. It's appalling that not one senior commander has been held accountable for these egregious and increasingly-apparent systematic acts.

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#17)
    by jarober on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:38 PM EST
    what detainees at Gitmo have been "beaten, tortured, and killed?"

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#18)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:38 PM EST
    JR - What difference does it make if the abuse took place at GTMO (and there's much evidence, including reports from the U. S. Army as well as Amnesty International that abuses of detainees did indeed occur at GTMO)? The issue is simply this: U. S. troops tortured, beat and killed detainees. There's no question about that; that's a fact (I know, I know, facts are of little importance to the faith-based, fact-free crowd). THAT'S the issue. You can obfuscate with the POW/Illegal Combatant/Geneva Conventions smoke screen, but the facts remain: our troops committed egregious abuse of detainees. Note that I didn't use the term "enemy", for the simple reason that the vast majority of these detainees have not been "enemy combatants" or "illegal combatants" or "terrorists." It's mind-boggling that anyone with the IQ of a bivalve would attempt to defend these acts. It's equally as mind-boggling that anyone who knows anything about the military would believe for a nanosecond that these abuses were not systematic and at the very least tacitly condoned by senior officers as well as the civilian leadership in the chain-of-command.

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#19)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:38 PM EST
    Mind-boggling but obviously a nimble and easy feat for the right...

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#20)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:38 PM EST
    Atta boy JR. Slap a label on em and have at it! Good thing we don't do that here or we'd ALL be in the hoosgow.

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#21)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:38 PM EST
    Give Gonzales and Bush time...you're not out of the woods yet...

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#22)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:40 PM EST
    You get my best salute, Phantasm (which, btw, was a great movie!) You're right and some of us are ashamed. Others will find any excuse to spread hatred and violence. You also haven't met PPJ on these threads, He makes Robertson look like a damn philosopher. The seventeenth-century enlightenment has passed by a few of the commenters here who think that the price of their freedom is offing a few of America's enemies Du Jour. The price is much, much higher my fellow Americans and it's time to pay up and raise your voices against the forces that want to give away your rights.

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#23)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:40 PM EST
    Dear Friends, I'm afraid this threat has been captured by an ignorant troll (and by the way he's not "JR", I'm JR). Mr Robinson directs us to a website of a fellow who claims to be an authority on the Conventions. He's not. He's a liar. For example, this fellow tells us that it's permissible to execute a POW who tries to escape by assuming a civilian disguise. This is a lie. The Convention forbids such punishment of escapees. No one who had ever read the Convention could make this mistake. Article 93 Geneva Convention III (on the treatment of prisoners of war) states: [O]ffences committed by prisoners of war with the sole intention of facilitating their escape and which do not entail any violence against life or limb, such as offences against public property, theft without intention of self-enrichment, the drawing up or use of false papers, or the wearing of civilian clothing, shall occasion disciplinary punishment only. There is no way to respond to every false thing in the posts of James Robinson and his "ejectejecteject" friend but I can tell you that they are a tissue of lies. Now, to get back to the point: The black humor in the Abu Ghraib picture case is the government's contention that to release the pictures would violate the Genevation Convention. What provision might that be? The only one I can find is Art. 13: prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity. So the government is contending that we may not view pictures of prohibited acts of violence and intimidation because to do so would be a prohibited act of public curiosity. These people have no shame. They will say and do anything. They are beneath contempt.

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#24)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:40 PM EST
    JR - The fact of the matter is that these people are not POW's protected under the GC. You may read Article 4 which defines what you have to do to be under the GC. i.e. Wear a uniform, have a clear chain of command, carry weapons openly, have clear identification, etc. Article 5 says that if there is doubt about the status of a prisoner, then he must have a tribunal. So, if there is NO doubt that he does not meet the qualifications, no tribunal is called for. So, what they get is what we decide to give them. And it should not be torture. The disagreements come in when abuse is called torture. My belief is that we should give them a fair tribunal, and hang the ones who we find to be illegal combatants, guerillas, terrorists. There is no place to send them, and death has been the historical fate of such people. The innocent ones should be released, with compensation. mfox - Thanks for the personal snarky comment that is totally unrelated to any specific comment. You always meet my expectations. Phantasm writes
    " that I didn't use the term "enemy", for the simple reason that the vast majority of these detainees have not been "enemy combatants" or "illegal combatants" or "terrorists."
    Perhaps you can provide some evidence of your claim??

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#25)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:41 PM EST
    JR writes:
    I can't imagine why you believe that there is no doubt. I have read that many detainees were rousted from their homes in the dead of night and hauled away. But we don't know, do we?
    What I said was that if there was no doubt that the person captured did not qualify under Section 4, then it was not necessary to give him a tribunal. And a person captured in combat is not a "civilian." He`is an illegal combatant. If there is doubt, give them a tribunal, and if innocent, compensate and send them on their way. JR, not to hurt your feelings, but your belief appears to be that we need lawyers on the battlefields ready to request bail as soon as we capture them.

    Re: ACLU to Get Abu Ghraib Torture Photos (none / 0) (#26)
    by soccerdad on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 12:59:41 PM EST
    PPJ - wrong as usual remember what you said, just repeating something over and over doesn't make it right.