Hundreds, perhaps thousands of photos showing U.S. detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan must be released, unless the government can make a national security case as to why each individual photo should be withheld, a federal judge ordered Friday.
The photos show American troops posing with corpses, holding guns to people's heads or simulating forced sodomization. The federal government has 60 days to appeal the ruling.
The photographs were gathered in the course of hundreds of investigations into detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Daily Beast reported that the Obama administration considered releasing some of the photos in 2009, but changed its mind at the last minute due to military-led concerns that the graphic photographs could endanger American troops in those countries.
"The Obama administration’s rationale for suppressing the photos is both illegitimate and dangerous. To allow the government to suppress any image that might provoke someone, somewhere, to violence would be to give the government sweeping power to suppress evidence of its own agents’ misconduct," said Jameel Jaffer, the lead lawyer in a decade-long dispute over the photos.
The ACLU first filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2004, in an attempt to force the release of the photographs.
--Tim Mak, The Daily Beast