I take no pleasure in the fact that this nation, under the Presidency of George Bush, used methods and practices of torture that ran counter to international law, and the ethics and underpinnings of our nation. There are not enough words to be found in the dictionary to excoriate his administration for these past crimes. But there is a process that this nation, and the indeed the world, needs to go through in order to get past what the United States did. It is important that we hold ourselves fully accountable for the past, and let the world understand that we ‘get it’, and fully appreciate the gravity of these practices, and the impact it has on international relations.
Part of that accountability process was to have been the releases of more photographic evidence of the torture committed by Americans. The Obama White House had stated that the evidence would be released. However today there was a reverse direction given, and as CNN reports those pictures will not be released.
President Obama said Wednesday that he told government lawyers to object to a court-ordered release of additional images showing alleged abuse of detainees because the release could affect the safety of U.S. troops and “inflame anti-American opinion.”
The Defense Department was set to release hundreds of photographs showing alleged abuse of prisoners in detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I want to emphasize that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the images we remember from Abu Ghraib,” the president said on the South Lawn of the White House. “But they do represent conduct that didn’t conform with the Army manual.”
Obama said the publication of the photos would not add any additional benefit to investigations being carried out into detainee abuse — and could put future inquires at risk.
I find this argument weak, and unacceptable. I think there will need to be further pushing to get the pictures released. There is no justification for hiding the facts. None! To cave in to those on the right who bluster about the potential harm that these photos would ignite is rich, considering it was the very policies of the conservatives that have placed our nation at this moment in time. Showing the world what happens when neo-conservatives rule is not harmful, but educational. If we do not see and know the truth we are bound to repeat it.
Amrit Singh, an attorney with the ACLU, said the president’s decision “makes a mockery” of his promise of transparency and accountability.
“Essentially, by withholding these photographs from public view, the Obama administration is making itself complicit in the Bush administration’s torture policies,” Singh said. “The release of these photos is absolutely essential for ensuring that justice was done … for ensuring that the public could hold its government accountable, and for ensuring that torture is not conducted in the future in the name of the American people.”
Singh said his organization is prepared to “do whatever it takes” in order to have the photos released.