Thursday, May 14, 2009

The torture photos we won't see, for now

There's not much good news to be found in Obama's decision not to release the torture photos that he had pledged he was going to release.

Dan Froomkin has a rundown of why most of Obama's reasons were pretty nonsensical. He's most troubled by the "the-bad-apples-have-been-dealt-with" excuse -- classic Bush Administration.

Peter Wallsten and Janet Hook in the LAT are good and direct in pointing out that one of the White House's arguments is simply factually incorrect:
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the national security argument the administration intended to make in court -- that releasing the photographs could create a backlash -- was "one that hasn't been made before."

But, in fact, that issue was raised and rejected by a federal district court judge and the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which called the warnings of a backlash "clearly speculative" and insufficient to warrant blocking disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

Whether or not the photos will eventually get released, by order of a court, now remains to be seen.

The one part of this all that I did like, though, was the repeated use of the notion that these photos put American soldiers at risk. I mean, that's one (of many) of the arguments anti-torture advocates have used over the years. But the idea has been consistently downplayed for years. Now Obama, on purpose or not, is mainstreaming it, helping to make it the uncontroversial CW.


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