Release The Abu Ghraib Photos/Videos

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in The War On Terrorism

Correction: Sept. 1

I completely missed this correction the New York Times put out about the Abu Ghraib story just three days after the initial story broke.

An article on Saturday about a federal judge’s order regarding photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal misstated a deadline and the response by Defense Department lawyers. The government was given until Friday to black out some identifying details in the material, not to release it. Defense Department lawyers met that deadline, but asked the court to block the public release of the materials. They did not refuse to cooperate with an order for the materials’ release.

Given this information, I amend my position on the government having a legal obligation to release the photos. However, with groups like the ACLU fighting to have them released, I feel it’s only a matter of time before this stuff does come to light. Ignoring that fact only adds more fuel to the fire of our enemy’s hatred, and I still say better now than later.

—————-
I’ve called for this before, and now the ACLU is trying to make sure this gets out in the open, as it already should have nearly a month ago. Basically, the government has violated a court order to release the photos/videos, and the ACLU is calling for them to obey.

Frankly, my reasoning for this is simple. Get it out of the way now, and you won’t have to deal with it down the line. This information will have to come out eventually, and there is really no sense in delaying the inevitable.

Keep in mind, the following is from a press release from the ACLU, so it’s definitely coming from a certain point of view. However, I thought this passage was a particularly pertinent part:

Included in papers unsealed today is General Myers’ argument that the photographs must be withheld because “our democratic idea of public accountability — the airing of misdeeds by government officials and employees in order to hold government to the highest standards of conduct — is an idea that is misunderstood in other parts of the world.”

Well, you said a mouthful there General Myers. The point is well taken, but ultimately futile.

When we torture people and evidence is recorded, people will eventually see exactly what we are doing and judge accordingly. This will hurt our image in the Middle East, but better now than later. To wait is to add more fuel to the fire of those who would have this information released, and if we know this is going to come out it makes little sense to try and stonewall.

All thoughts on this issue are welcome and appreciated.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 31st, 2005 and is filed under The War On Terrorism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

15 Responses to “Release The Abu Ghraib Photos/Videos”

  1. ford4x4 Says:

    If a picture speaks a 1,000 words, we’re better off to NOT release them. Everybody knows something “bad”, (I’m okay with torturing the bad guys), happened there. If they release more pictures, then the middle eastern press will stir up another hornets nest that will be counter to what we’re trying to accomplish over there. Your right to know is not as important as an American soldier’s right to live!

  2. Hal Says:

    I agree we need to suck it up and release it now. Otherwise we’re adding to our already long list of reasons people hate Americans. Then we need to insure that we all behave as helpful and good natured as we like to think we are. Especially true for those of us living outside the US. We are what people judge Americans to be so we have to act accordingly.

  3. Justin Gardner Says:

    My point is we’re going to be in there another 4 years (at the very least). You really think that the government can hold out? I seriously doubt it, and if we let this wound fester, it’s going to hurt us more in the long run.

    Basically, when you mess up, own up to it and then move on.

    And by the way, after CBS broke the intial story, our casulaties actually went down for two straight months, at one point dropping from 80 in May to 42 in June. If, as you suggest, this is the relationship between releasing information and our soldier’s death toll, I say release the videos immediately.

  4. Rebecca Says:

    How are these pictures even relavant except in a self-flaggilating sense? The government was investigating the abuses months before the media got a hold of the pictures and the government has prosecuted most of those involved. Only those who wish to see the military and America pillaried will benefit from the release of these picture. IMHO.

  5. debsay Says:

    I agree with Rebecca, Ford4x4 and General Myers…..the only question I have is: to what benefit is releasing the photos???? What harm can come because of releasing them????

    We had riots and deaths occur because Newsweek claimed abuse of the Koran (even though it wasn’t founded)…. now you want to gin up more animosity against our soldiers over there for what???? Would this be for political points??? How would releasing these photos and videos help us in any way???? If your wife or daughter was attacked and had photos taken would you insist that those be released also???? Is there an exploitation angle here???

  6. Meredith Says:

    I think it’s interesting that people who are “okay with torturing the bad guys” are the ones that don’t want the pictures released. Are you worried what those pictures will show? Do you even know what they will show?

    I think covering up these pictures will just make people more angry with us. Besides that, do you really trust that our government is taking care of it by investigating and prosecuting appropriately? I do not. The whole point is that higher-ups in the government may have ordered, or at least turned a blind eye, to the torture. Therefore, the government should not be allowed to keep everything hidden from the public, while they “take care of it.”

    The good it will do us is for us to be a part of reality and know what our country is doing. We need to know this, especially with government officials talking about making laws that would officially allow “torture.” American citizens need to stop sticking their heads in the sand.

  7. ford4x4 Says:

    My point is that, even though the press in the middle east is routinely publishing that we’re torturing prisoners, it will garner a LOT more negative attention if we give them pictures to put on the front page.

    I think it’s just another flawed attempt to bring this administration down.

    Meredith,
    IMO, all prisoners should be turned over to Iraqi police. They don’t have a problem with getting answers out of these goofballs. Since it would be Arab on Arab torture, the US can’t be hated for it. If applying pain to somebody forces him to give up info that saves just one innocent life, it’s worth it!

  8. Rebecca Says:

    Meredith – how is the publication of the pictures going to prove that higher ups in the government ordered or turned a blind eye to the torture? Are there picture of the officers or better yet Sec. Rumsfeld in these pictures winking and laughing about the scenes? How will these pictures prove that the government isn’t taking care of its problems? If these were new pictures done after the investigations started I would say publish away, but old pictures before the investigations prove nothing.

  9. Meredith Says:

    Rebecca, I’m not suggesting that the release of the pictures will “prove” anything except that the torture is going on. Yes, we have seen other pictures already, but do these unreleased pictures show worse things? I’m saying that we should all know what our government is doing. American citizens have the right to know and question.

  10. Meredith Says:

    Ford 4X4 – I just flat do not agree with torture under any circumstances. If you’re all for it, there just isn’t much to say in response.

  11. Justin Gardner Says:

    Everybody,

    My point is, and I’ll make it again, that the release of these photos is INEVITABLE.

    It’s not up to any of us if they get released or not. Eventually they WILL come out and the world WILL see them. Everybody commenting on this post does realize this, right? That IS the reality, whether you like it or not.

    So perhaps the better question is, when do you want them released? Today? In a year? In two years? I can almost guarantee you that when Bush leaves office, they’ll be released…especially if it’s McCain, Guiliani or Hillary.

    And to that point, are you okay with those pic/videos painting an incorrect portrait of a completely new administration?

    Also, I’ll quote myself (kinda weird) about the correlation between releasing the pictures and American troop death toll. This was in response to ford4x4′s assertion (“Your right to know is not as important as an American soldier’s right to live!”) that releasing the videos would put our troops in harm’s way.

    And by the way, after CBS broke the intial story, our casulaties actually went down for two straight months, at one point dropping from 80 in May to 42 in June. If, as you suggest, this is the relationship between releasing information and our soldier’s death toll, I say release the videos immediately.

    One last thing, I think the case against the higher-ups has been made, and nothing seems to have come of it. I realize that many still hold out hope that somebody in the Administration will be held accountable, but that’s not the reason I want these released.

    However, could that be a side effect of releasing this? Doubtful. But the buck should stop on the desk of the person who made that decision, and if that means Rumsfeld or somebody beneath him, then so be it. People, that’s accountability. Those are checks and balances. That’s why democracy works.

    However, from what I’ve heard about the new stuff, I doubt anybody “okayed” raping children. The only problem is, this Administration has continually fought to keep ALL options on the table when it comes to torture. When you do that, don’t be surprised if many deem the government responsible for these things.

  12. Matthew Berg Says:

    There never was a court order to release the photos. The story originated at the New York Times where a reporter (Kate Zernike) mistated that a deadline was for release of materials.

    Unfortunately a lot of left blogs and organizations picked up on the story, but not the correction:

    An article on Saturday about a federal judge’s order regarding photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal misstated a deadline and the response by Defense Department lawyers. The government was given until Friday to black out some identifying details in the material, not to release it. Defense Department lawyers met that deadline, but asked the court to block the public release of the materials. They did not refuse to cooperate with an order for the materials’ release.

    [cite: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FA0E17FC38580C708EDDAE0894DD404482 ]

  13. Justin Gardner Says:

    Thanks for the catch on this one MB. I’ll put it in the post.

  14. ford4x4 Says:

    Makes me wonder how far the casualty count would have dropped had the story not broke at all…

    The government has the right to mark material “classified” for various reasons. One of those reasosns is if the release of the material would prove detrimental to the our folks on the front lines. The release of these picture will just lead to more outrage in the Arab community.

    Classify the photo’s “Top Secret”, and they’re put in a filing cabinet somewhere for 20 years, and no amount of whining by the American press will bring them out.

  15. Donklephant » Blog Archive » Abu Ghraib Can Of Worms Reopened Says:

    [...] When the ACLU was calling for the government to release the Abu Ghraib photos last August, I said this: Frankly, my reasoning for this is simple. Get it out of the way now, and you won’t have to deal with it down the line. This information will have to come out eventually, and there is really no sense in delaying the inevitable. [...]

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