Thursday, May 28, 2009

Should've Just Released the Photos

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.

Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.

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.


  1. This can only get worse from here. No matter how we prepare ourselves for this, these are going to be bad. I'm wondering what kind of monsters not only did these things, but also photographed them. As you said, Obama should have released the photos. Holding back looks very bad for him.

  2. Interesting take, Jason. I was and still am, completely against the release of the photos. But you are right about the reaction and desire for accountability.

    As much as progressives would like to see Obama close the chapter on this period of Bushesque national security policy, the fact of the matter is, Obama is mostly reinforcing it.

  3. why are you against releasing the photos, they are going to come out anyways, there's always a leak. if you're proactive about it you control the story, instead of responding to the leak.