A reader writes:
Like you, I'm dismayed at Obama's last-minute decision to block the release of the other abuse photos. I think he was under withering pressure by the joint chiefs and military brass in Iraq and Afghanistan not to stir this pot up again. As for why this threatens our troops, last March, a group of US Senators, including McCain and Lindsey Graham, wrote the following to Obama: "Releasing these old photographs of detainee treatment now will provide new fodder to Al-Qaeda's propaganda and recruitment operations, undercut the progress you have made in our international relations, and endanger America's military and diplomatic personnel throughout the world."
I think that's true. But hold on! Just yesterday, Karl Rove was on my teevee claiming that disavowing torture draws more recruits to Al Qaeda because now they know if they're captured we'll treat them with kid gloves. Of course the real reason Republicans don't want these photos released is because they will show just how depraved our behavior was in the early years of the Iraq War.
This is seriously insane stuff and they know it's simply indefensible, particularly as most of the prisoners involved were just street thugs or random poor slobs unlucky enough to get picked up in some raid and fingered as a suspected insurgent by informants with dubious motives -- then subjected to treatment that would have embarrassed Nazis. So Obama is now faced with a choice: what is more important? Keeping the generals happy or the Truth? So far, happy generals 1, Truth 0. Note to Obama: we're keeping score.
What I cannot understand is why the president owning the war crimes of his predecessor - and launching a serious and deep cover-up - helps America's international reputation. Doesn't it suggest that Bush and Obama, underneath, are the same? And isn't that the real threat to America's international standing?