When Obama blocked the release of detainee abuse photos, the conventional wisdom was that it was a good move, as "everyone knows we tortured" and they would only feed anti-American sentiment. But my argument is that the photos will not stay under wraps, and Obama missed an opportunity to create at least a semblance of accountability by blocking their release.
And now, as predicted, the photos are coming out anyway. And it's not pretty.
At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.
Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.
Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.
Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.
Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.Instead of defending government secrecy, the President could have offered the release of these photos as an olive branch in his (respectable) notion of simply moving on. Now, the reports play out as "ah, I can see why they wanted to keep this from getting out."
Blocking the photos was a mistake.