The ACLU blog has more on yesterday's 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision:
When the ACLU and others first requested access from the government to the now-infamous photos of abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, the government responded that disclosure would be an "unwarranted invasion of privacy" of the detainees in the pictures. According to the government, the detainees’ privacy justified keeping the photos from the public, even ifas the ACLU requestedall identifying features in the photos were obscured. Not surprisingly, both the trial and appellate courts rejected the argument. After all, if you cannot recognize the detainees in the pictures because their faces and distinguishing features have been replaced by black boxes, how can their privacy be at stake?
What is surprising, however, is the government’s partial reliance on the Geneva Conventions to make this argument.
The Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions protect prisoners of war and detained civilians from "insults and public curiosity." (An extreme example of subjecting a prisoner to "public curiosity" might be parading that prisoner in shackles down a street lined with jeering civilians.) The government argued, in the court’s words, that "a photograph of abuse is so humiliating that its dissemination always opens the detainee to public curiosity.’"
The argument is surprising, of course, because the same administration maintained for years that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to any of the detainees in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. It is surprising because the same administration relied upon its determination that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to justify its use of barbaric and inhumane interrogation methods in the first place. It is surprising because there would be no photos of abuse to request had the government cared this much about the Geneva Conventions before the abuses occurred and the photos were taken.
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