Obama Signs Bill Preventing Release of Torture Photos

Yesterday, President Obama signed the Homeland Security appropriations bill passed last week by Congress that prevents the release of photos depicting torture and abuse of detainees and allows the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay to the U.S. for prosecution -- but won't allow those acquitted to remain in the U.S or those convicted to serve their sentences in U.S. prisons.

Last week, the ACLU sent this letter (pdf) to Defense Secretary Gates on why the photos should not be excluded from Freedom of Information Act Requests. [More...]

From its response today on the photos:

"We are disappointed that the president has signed a law giving the Defense Department the authority to hide evidence of its own misconduct, and we hope the defense secretary will not take advantage of that authority by suppressing photos related to the abuse of prisoners," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project.

And on the detainee transfers:

"This law allows the administration to transfer prisoners to the U.S. for criminal trials in the federal courts, and the administration should now do exactly that," said Jaffer. "The military commissions at Guantánamo are not just unlawful but unnecessary. The federal courts are fully capable of prosecuting terrorism suspects while protecting both national security interests and fundamental due process. It's time to shut down Guantánamo, transfer the military commissions trials to federal courts that uphold the rule of law, and transfer prisoners whom the administration does not intend to charge to countries where they won't be in danger of being tortured. Indefinite detention without charge or trial undermines the most basic values of justice and fairness."

Yesterday, Obama authorized the continuation of trial by improved but still faulty military commissions.

On a more positive note, Obama today broke with the prior Bush Administration and "restored an independent intelligence advisory board's authority to tell the attorney general if it thinks an intelligence agency has broken the law."

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    So waves the wand of The State (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Dadler on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 01:11:41 PM EST
    Reminded of Milan Kundera novels, how disgraced and deposed party leaders were simply airbrushed out of official photos, as if they never existed.

    A strong argument could be made that this is the most blatent example of state suppression/censorship in history, IMO.

    To call it disgraceful implies too much dignity. And further we sink.

    All the proof I need... (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by kdog on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 01:24:19 PM EST
    to know the photos depict horrors beyond our wildest nighmares...in our names and on our dime.

    I sure as hell don't wanna see them, but feel like we kinda have a responsibility to see them.

    Bush legacy (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Lora on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 06:48:35 PM EST
    Continued by Obama.

    Must be detainees who know too much about U.S. ... (none / 0) (#3)
    by Yes2Truth on Thu Oct 29, 2009 at 03:48:34 PM EST

    Intelligence services operations (drug smuggling,
    perhaps 9/11 etc.).

    That's probably why many/most of them were "detained" in the first place.  

    No wonder right-wingers keep dissing Obama for
    being such an extreme liberal.

    WSWS on this bill (none / 0) (#5)
    by Andreas on Fri Oct 30, 2009 at 12:47:05 AM EST
    In a ceremony Wednesday, US President Barack Obama signed legislation authorizing the largest ever military budget, a gargantuan $680 billion for the Pentagon, including $130 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. On Thursday, he signed a spending bill funneling another $44 billion into the Department of Homeland Security, to strengthen the apparatus of state repression within the United States.

    The back-to-back bill signings are a clear demonstration that Obama is extending and intensifying the program of militarism and attacks on democratic rights for which the Bush administration was deservedly hated, in the United States and worldwide. ...

    The Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill effectively prohibits the release of photographs taken by US military personnel during torture sessions at US bases in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. It exempts these photos from the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, under which the American Civil Liberties Union and several media outlets have filed suit in federal court. The exemption would apply, not just to the photos sought by the ACLU, but to any photos taken between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009 to which the Pentagon has objections. ...

    Obama's cynical attitude toward democratic rights was on display after the signing ceremony for the Pentagon bill. He hailed the portion of the bill that extends federal hate crimes laws to include violence against gays and lesbians, meeting with the parents of Matthew Shepard, the young gay man beaten to death in Wyoming in 1998.

    The next day, the Obama administration moved quickly to enforce the prohibition on the release of military torture photos. Solicitor General Elena Kagan sent a letter Thursday to the Supreme Court, apprising it of the legislation and declaring that she would file a supplemental brief on its effect on the ongoing ACLU lawsuit before the Court's conference November 6.

    Obama signs bills for record Pentagon, Homeland Security spending
    By Patrick Martin, 30 October 2009