Obama Changes Mind, Won't Release Prisoner Abuse Photos

President Obama has reversed course and decided not to release hundreds of photos depicting prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His military advisors have convinced him the release of the photos could be damaging to the troops now serving. He's going to let the courts decide the matter.

But the court already decided and ordered the release of the photos. The Government already sought review and was denied. The Defense Department had agreed to release the photos by May 28 as part of a lawsuit filed years ago by the ACLU.[more...]

"These photographs provide visual proof that prisoner abuse by U.S. personnel was not aberrational but widespread, reaching far beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib," said Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU. "Their disclosure is critical for helping the public understand the scope and scale of prisoner abuse as well as for holding senior officials accountable for authorizing or permitting such abuse."

Here's a sampling of photos previously released.

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    Maybe it is predictable. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by elrapido on Wed May 13, 2009 at 12:45:03 PM EST
    I can't say that I thought this would happen, but it's part of pattern.  Pres. Obama has parted with Candidate Obama on Military Commissions and State Secrets among other policies.  It's much easier to talk about being President than it is to actually be President.

    Oh Sweet Jesus (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 13, 2009 at 01:22:26 PM EST
    Obama is trying to say that the abuses were investigated and now water under the bridge.  A hidden military investigation is about as trustworthy at this point as a military tribunal is in deciding what to do with completely innocent Gitmo detainees.

    And the reporter's phones are going nuts (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 13, 2009 at 01:28:11 PM EST
    during today's press conference.  Nobody is on vibrate and nobody gives a damn either, one reporter took the call right in the middle of the press conference. The President believes that some of the abuses are being investigated by a Senate committee......that sounds somewhat better than hoping that past Bush era investigations did any of these events justice.

    Gibbs handled the 'phone thing' (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by oldpro on Wed May 13, 2009 at 01:36:17 PM EST
    really well...with humor, with good humor, and one-upped the reporter who took the call and left the room by asking the other reporters who stayed to "brief him on the new Supreme Court appointee!"

    Very funny.  The press in the room were with Gibbs in that tiny power struggle and he won it.  Well done, I'd say.


    and the green shoots turned out to be mold (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:11:29 PM EST
    hope he changes his mind on a second stimulus as well. Or does the administration think that the average Joe who has no job, is running out of savings and is terrified of bankruptcy and foreclosure, will somehow become so enthralled with this issue that they will ignore their financial situation.

    I've been doing a ton of reading around (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:35:45 PM EST
    this afternoon, lots of refreshing the memory.  So many things happened, and nothing could be done to rectify the situation so it went by the wayside before I got depressed about it.  I'm very troubled with the reasoning for McKiernan being sacked because he was argued for a "too conventional approach" and him being replaced by McChrystal who loves the covert and has been running JSOC.  Is the reason why we aren't releasing the photos now and dealing with the military torturing prisoners because we intend to continue this sort of interrogation in the battlefield?  Or is it because both McKiernan and McChrystal have torture on their hands and we must protect the credibility of our current military leaders?

    Looks like we may never know, (5.00 / 4) (#36)
    by Anne on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:52:59 PM EST
    and that seems to be part of the decision - or at least it feels that way.

    But here's another question: the FOIA request has been litigated - are we supposed to believe that the government did not make the "harmful to the safety of the troops" and "national security" arguments in the first place?

    What's really disturbing to contemplate is that the rabbit hole I thought we had gone down when Bush was president is beginning to look like just the entryway to pure madness.


    So what else (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by Ga6thDem on Wed May 13, 2009 at 06:19:04 PM EST
    is new? Another Mac truck came rumbling by and ran over Obama. It's just another day in the White House I guess.

    If Obama had thought through many of his "promises" before making them maybe the truck wouldn't be running over him so much.

    [raised eyebrow] (none / 0) (#1)
    by Fabian on Wed May 13, 2009 at 12:36:59 PM EST

    I can't say "predictable" because I didn't see this coming.  "harm the troops"?  Maybe.  But if now isn't The Right Time, then when will it be The Right Time?

    That is a ligit concern (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 13, 2009 at 01:18:27 PM EST
    We already know the outrage it is going to generate in the Muslim world.....we can go by what happened after the Abu Ghraib photos were released.

    a lot of people (none / 0) (#15)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed May 13, 2009 at 01:36:25 PM EST
    were whining that it was going to be released on Memorial day.

    The whole thing stinks to high heaven (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 13, 2009 at 01:45:44 PM EST
    The deeds have already been done.  We can't undo them.  They were going to be released on my b-day too and I thought it was great.  Let's get it done.  I do know that the release of the photos while we have soldiers in theatre where they are places them in greater risk from outrage, we are all going to be at risk for that sort of outrage though and as long as those photos haven't been released......they are still going to be released sometime.  Isn't it better to release them when "the enemy" is as broken as they are right now?  Do we want to wait ten years and then release them and have extremist groups feed on all that fresh raw meat then?  There isn't a way to win this other than release them and then let the healing and dealing begin.  Something smells really bad right now.......it smells a hell of a lot worse than placing troops in jeopardy.

    Oh Jesus Gates.......was it really (none / 0) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:02:17 PM EST
    what McKiernan said about releasing those photos endagering soldiers?  Why did we have to replace McKiernan with McChrystal who has been one of the few untainted with allegations of detainee abuse like those involved in JSOC?

    And of course (none / 0) (#25)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:19:17 PM EST
    It has been a long time, but the google helped me to remember speculation about Operation Copper Green via that compulsive liar Sy Hersh.  Is all of this about protecting Copper Green and all those involved in it?  Do we want to hang onto those photos because we actually aren't done Coppering detainees Green?

    i dont disagree (none / 0) (#38)
    by sancho on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:57:20 PM EST
    but it also may mean that the "right time" will be when there are no US forces in the Muslim world.  

    The sooner the better, IMO. (none / 0) (#41)
    by oculus on Wed May 13, 2009 at 03:09:17 PM EST
    Too bad about that Afghanistan thing (none / 0) (#53)
    by lambert on Wed May 13, 2009 at 07:22:20 PM EST
    Maybe it will be over soon!

    Although the fellow whining for more (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by oculus on Wed May 13, 2009 at 07:27:05 PM EST
    troops just got canned.

    Sure, covert action will work great (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by lambert on Wed May 13, 2009 at 09:46:10 PM EST
    What could go wrong?

    Well, so much for the possibility (none / 0) (#2)
    by Anne on Wed May 13, 2009 at 12:41:05 PM EST
    that Obama's strategy was going to be to let the outrage over the photos drive us closer to an investigation or a Truth Commission, huh?

    I really just don't get it.  What argument could be made now that hasn't already been made and found insufficient to prevent the release?

    Sounds to me like Obama prefers (5.00 / 5) (#4)
    by oculus on Wed May 13, 2009 at 12:50:23 PM EST
    the court review the photos and determine which will be released and when.  That way the buck doesn't stop w/the President.

    Agree. If there is fallout (none / 0) (#7)
    by oldpro on Wed May 13, 2009 at 01:16:01 PM EST
    of any kind, he doesn't want to take the blame.

    Defense officials told him the troops would be "in great danger" if photos of abuse are released.

    Gibbs is saying at the presser that release could be a disincentive to an investigation.  He's having a hard time convincing the press audience.

    Being asked about squaring that with "greater transparency."


    I agree (none / 0) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Wed May 13, 2009 at 01:19:19 PM EST
    Yes. IMHO, another example of his political (none / 0) (#21)
    by rennies on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:10:28 PM EST
    cowardice.Will Obama EVER fight for anything--most especially for things that he promised during the campaign?

    Refresh my memory please (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by nycstray on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:21:20 PM EST
    Which things that he promised during the campaign, did he show any real passion or fight for?

    Just wanted you to know that (5.00 / 5) (#31)
    by Anne on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:34:45 PM EST
    I am still thinking about that...

    So far, all I can come up with is...winning.


    Do we need the 12th dimension now? (none / 0) (#54)
    by lambert on Wed May 13, 2009 at 07:23:03 PM EST
    I'm open to it, totally.

    Maybe my pony is there!


    I thought I saw them at the 13th (none / 0) (#57)
    by nycstray on Wed May 13, 2009 at 08:10:00 PM EST
    but they many have wandered on farther. . . .

    Obam is becoming less and less (none / 0) (#5)
    by Slado on Wed May 13, 2009 at 12:58:53 PM EST
    the person he campaigned as.

    McCain would have been the better choice.  The foreign policy would have been exactly the same and he wouldn't have passed the stimulus or run up a nearly 2 trillion dollar deficit.

    All the foriegn policy reasons for electing Obama have vanished in little more then 100 days.

    Foreign policy is not (none / 0) (#6)
    by oldpro on Wed May 13, 2009 at 01:10:07 PM EST
    the only measure.  

    In fact, that's not even half of it for me.  I want a president who cares about domestic policy and tries to solve the problems facing the citizens of the country he is president of.

    Like Bill Clinton.


    Bill Clinton? (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Wed May 13, 2009 at 01:17:56 PM EST
    The country needed an unprecedented increase in marijuana arrests?  The country needed Barry McCaffery?  No way Jose.

    If you're voting D or R...it makes far too little difference who you vote for.  When it comes to the big stuff...same sh*t slightly different smell.

    As for John McCain...he woulda morphed from Campaign McCain too and spent like the rest of the drunken sailor brigade.


    Bill Clinton's decisions re (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by oldpro on Wed May 13, 2009 at 01:32:10 PM EST
    'the drug war' were, I think, political.  

    I also think that was then and this is now...public attitudes have gradually changed - thank gawd - and I'm hoping (hope! and change!) the president will not lag the country but will lead in changing these policies.

    As for Ds and Rs or any others on the ballot.  It always makes a difference.  Perhaps not a big one sometimes but each election finds the candidates with different sets of problems and once elected, with another set of problems.  If you think it didn't matter if we elected Roosevelt or George Bush or Nixon...well then, I have to assume you're not a voter.

    John McCain.  Please.  Who in Hell knows what the maverick would have done?  Not to mention Mx. Palin.

    Good grief.

    kdog...you need a vacation.  And so do I.


    I just had a vacation....:) (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by kdog on Wed May 13, 2009 at 01:50:38 PM EST
    I just don't believe in the two-party system anymore...in cahoots the two parties are.  Hopelessly corrupt.

    But point taken...I guess the people matter a little, even if the parties don't.  But then we run into the Vonnegut Principle...only psychopathic personalities want the job as president, Vonnegut called it the fatal flaw of our republic.


    Sigh...I don't 'believe' in (5.00 / 2) (#35)
    by oldpro on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:41:36 PM EST
    anything or anyone.  Belief is the trap of all traps.  It gets confused with love and trust and the wackier the belief, the more likely some fool can get you to believe the next wacky thing that makes them richer and more powerful.  Turn on your tv some Sunday morning and get a good look at 'the believer people.'  Sheesh.

    And I'm not a party Democrat any more...after 55 activist years.  Not after the corruption of that phony convention without even a legitimate roll call vote of the states.  That did it for me.  No more.

    Don't know that I agree with Vonnegut.  If it were true of our republic, wouldn't it have to be true of all others as well?  Or just ours because of the power we wield, worldwide?


    I think it is true... (none / 0) (#40)
    by kdog on Wed May 13, 2009 at 03:07:35 PM EST
    of any nation...who but a psychopath would want that kind of power and control and responsibility over others?  

    And I think its ok to believe as long as you also believe that you can be wrong and often are...iow, don't take your beliefs too seriously.


    Ummm...my point is that (none / 0) (#47)
    by oldpro on Wed May 13, 2009 at 03:45:30 PM EST
    believer people NEVER think they are wrong!  That is the whole point of 'belief' -- that it transcends reason and needs no evidence...just a leap of faith.

    Re the top job in a republic...I'd like the power and whatever control acually exists but couldn't handle the responsibility for the performance of others.  I do not trust enough people to want to take responsibility for their behavior on 'my watch.'  CIA?  FBI?  Justice Dept.?

    Nope.  I'd be too depressed and too angry at every betrayal or stupidity.  I'd blow a gasket at the nitwit who decided to fly a plane over New York City for photo ops.  Can't imagine how upset I'd be about something really dangerous and substantive.  I'd be tempted to waterboard 'em.

    My Irish temper isn't suited for the presidency.


    I may not be using... (none / 0) (#48)
    by kdog on Wed May 13, 2009 at 03:49:48 PM EST
    the dictionary version of "belief", maybe "idea" is the right word...I believe in a lot of things, and doubt nearly all of them...the only beliefs that I don't question is the belief in liberty and the belief in myself...all others are chock full of doubt:)

    I'd be an awful president...I'd wanna take it slow and think things over, and that doesn't fly with "Somebody do something right now!".


    Add... (none / 0) (#29)
    by kdog on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:31:33 PM EST
    Political decisions are a problem too...what happened to making decisions based on your sense of right and wrong?  

    I know, I know..."thats the way it is".  But does it have to be?  Why do we enable such craven self-serving decision-making?


    Maybe but (none / 0) (#18)
    by Slado on Wed May 13, 2009 at 01:53:52 PM EST
    he would have filled the partisan opposition role to the democratic house & senate.

    Now we will have to wait for the inevitable republican revolution and then we'll get those problems of single party rule all over again.

    I wish americans realized that divided gov't is the best.  IE Newt vs. Clinton or Reagan vs. Tip.


    Something to be said... (none / 0) (#24)
    by kdog on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:13:34 PM EST
    for government gridlock, no doubt...but the problem the two-parties are in lock-step on the big issues facing the country....lock-step on the wormg sides of the big issues if you ask me.

    So even a lil' partisan gridlock won't stop the worst of our government.


    Heard a report on NPR this week (none / 0) (#28)
    by oculus on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:30:00 PM EST
    about Japan's economy.  Commentator sd. problem is Japan's one party system.  Business needs one party in power, then another party in power, etc. to flourish.  This didn't make a lot of sense to me.

    Me either... (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:35:29 PM EST
    I'd think one party rule would serve business well...only one party to buy off.

    I think the key is (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by CST on Wed May 13, 2009 at 03:05:52 PM EST
    business "special interests" don't really serve businesses well.

    They got pretty much all they wanted in the last couple years, just like they got what they wanted in the 20s.  Getting what they want is like a obese kid getting an extra chocolate cake.  Just because they want it, doesn't mean it's good for them.


    They got it for the past 30 years (none / 0) (#52)
    by sallywally on Wed May 13, 2009 at 07:04:19 PM EST
    beginning with Reagan.

    McCain would have been a terrible, terrible (none / 0) (#37)
    by tigercourse on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:53:55 PM EST
    choice. I don't even want to contemplate what kind of havoc he and his idiot cabal of Republicans would be wreaking.

    Hmmm the democratic president agrees with me!! (none / 0) (#19)
    by Iamme on Wed May 13, 2009 at 01:55:32 PM EST
    President Obama has ordered government lawyers to object to the planned release of additional detainee photos, the White House said Wedneday.

    The whole mighty moral train.  Damn the torpedos full speed ahead.  Lynch them all.  

    I have been saying dont air the dirty laundry it doesnt help America.  I have been roasted in here for that view point.

    Please, please roast your democratic president as he now shares my view "Gibbs added, "the president reflected on this case and believes that they have the potential to pose harm to the troops."

    Dont give these nutjobs any more fuel on the fire.  

    The irony here is that there are people here that have such a high sense of morality that the lives of other people dont matter as long as their morality it fed.  

    Show the photos kill some Americans. Man I feel better we got that in the open.  Utter lunacy.

    you are right (5.00 / 3) (#23)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:12:51 PM EST
    the terrorists and "bad guys" will totally be ineffective recruiting now that they don't have actual pictures of the abuse.  I feel much safer.

    you are so off base here (none / 0) (#27)
    by Iamme on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:24:57 PM EST
    Even when your annointed rock star president says it.  Its not that they cant recruit.  They are certainly doing that.  

    WE DONT NEED TO HELP THEM.  That is the point.  Do you remember what happened the last time the photos were shown?  Violence against our troops escalated.  

    I guess you want that to happen.  Thanks for making my point with your sarcasm.  Like I said add even more fuel to the fire doesnt make sense.

    There was at least one American killed due to the release of photos that was a direct correlation due to the "additional" anger that the photo fueled.  

    Are you advocating release of more photos that lead to even one more American dying?  I will surely be back in here to post the slayings if and when the photos are released.  Our media is good at covering the macabre.  

    The president thinks it will,  the democratic president thinks it will, his advisers think it will, there are alot of middle class Americans that think it will.  

    But I guess you are smarter than all of them.  I can tell you still want that morality fed at the expense of your neighbors life.  

    Is feeding your morality more important than another Americans life?  I hope your answer is no.


    The abuse is what creates new recruits, (5.00 / 6) (#30)
    by ruffian on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:34:26 PM EST
    not the pictures. The orignal pictures were the first wide disclosure of the abuse, so of course the violence skyrocketed at that time, and the knowledge of our abuse of prisoners has been a recruitment tool ever since. That will not stop just because we don't release more pictures.

    i like being off base (5.00 / 5) (#34)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed May 13, 2009 at 02:36:07 PM EST
    keeps em honest.  As a veteran who served honorably and was discharged honorably, I abhor those who torture and believe in full disclosure.  Denying full disclosure makes us less safe as those who would harm americans have more fuel for the fire.  Hiding what we did only strengthens the enemy and their cause long term.  Short term thinking seems to be a riGHT of passage.

    Short term...or in the best interest? (none / 0) (#43)
    by Iamme on Wed May 13, 2009 at 03:15:49 PM EST
    They know we did it.  We know we did it.  That is enough.  When I hear of a horrific wreck on the freeway and bodies are mangled I dont need to see the ghastly pictures to know that it was terrible and people died.  That only turns my stomach.  So again.  Why add fuel to the fire?  We arent hiding anything it is public knowledge it happened.  I dont need to put you on a heart monitor to know its pumping.  Full disclosure at the risk of more American lives. Not worth it.  Hiding it?  There has been just as much press and media coverage of this as the economy so I dont think its a secret.

    I think and your president thinks the pictures will only add more negativity than its worth.  

    I guess you want to see the body that is mangled in the wreck.  

    The cool thing is your democratic president is actually acting responsible and your upset about it.  I dont want the photos released it wont help anything.  You do.  I dont want "mr change" in office any longer.  You are starting to have some negative feelings about the man as well.  I win either way as things sit today.


    3 paragraphs and you said absolutely (5.00 / 5) (#45)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed May 13, 2009 at 03:36:51 PM EST
    nothing worth reading.

    We should never again show photos of 9-11, it might encourage someone to kill more?  We should never show any tape of any police brutality, after all it only encourages violence?

    Just because you do not have the stomach for it does not mean that collective society should not see it.  

    Just because you fear reprisals over full disclosure does not mean we should not release.

    For that matter, I don't believe I need to see them, but I believe our gov't has a transparency obligation and should make them available.  

    You can either look at them or change the channel.....


    It's That Mindset (5.00 / 3) (#46)
    by CDN Ctzn on Wed May 13, 2009 at 03:37:06 PM EST
    Iamme, that is the REASON for them hating us. We preach to the world what it should do, and then do the opposite. We condemn the actions of others, and then justify it when we do it.

    The pictures WILL be released (none / 0) (#42)
    by Spamlet on Wed May 13, 2009 at 03:14:07 PM EST
    There's no doubt.

    Now, do you want the U.S. to release them? Or do you want Teh Terrists to do it?


    I am glad you are so sure of yourself (none / 0) (#44)
    by Iamme on Wed May 13, 2009 at 03:18:13 PM EST
    Right! The people who were doing this make sure to give copies to the terrorist upon their release.  If they had them they would already be released and shown around the world.

    Not even in touch with reality with that comment.


    Copies! (none / 0) (#49)
    by Spamlet on Wed May 13, 2009 at 03:52:37 PM EST

    Guess you still believe in negatives.


    Phooey (none / 0) (#51)
    by lentinel on Wed May 13, 2009 at 06:24:54 PM EST
    This is not about recruiting terrorists.
    This is not about protecting the soldiers that continue to be placed in hellholes for no good reason.
    This is about domestic politics.

    Exactly (none / 0) (#55)
    by lambert on Wed May 13, 2009 at 07:25:09 PM EST
    For whatever reason, Obama decided not to invest any political capital in the photo release. I can't imagine why.

    The loons who put and (none / 0) (#60)
    by jondee on Thu May 14, 2009 at 06:14:52 PM EST
    kept the dipsh*t from Crawford in office for eight years and,more than likely,amened and kowtowed in responce to his every policy decision are suddenly now worried about doing things to rile up insurgents. Speaking of complete and utter lunacy.

    I dont know whether to laugh or cry.


    Harry Reid supports President's (none / 0) (#58)
    by oculus on Wed May 13, 2009 at 09:45:13 PM EST
    decision not to release photos:  


    "We've had quite a few pictures. I'm not sure we need anymore," he said in response to a question from the Huffington Post in the hallway off the Senate floor.

    "I haven't seen the pictures," he added.

    good political move (none / 0) (#61)
    by diogenes on Thu May 14, 2009 at 08:41:18 PM EST
    The more times that the ACLU violently disagrees with Obama, the better for Obama.