A reader writes:
I admit that this is more of an intellectual exercise than something I am sure I believe. But consider.
IF Obama anticipates prosecuting the perpetrators of torture for war crimes, they would presumably have a right to trial by jury. But these photographs would be exactly the sort of pre-trial publicity that would routinely lead to lawyers asking for (and getting) a change of venue, due to the inflammatory nature of the photographs.
And there is no obvious venue where the photographs would not have been widely published as soon as they were available.
So one might, MIGHT, interpret Obama's action as indicating that he is serious about bringing the perpetrators to trial. Now those who were involved, and are members of the military, don't have that right; they get a court martial. So we are looking at civilians. Maybe all the way up to the top of the chain of command -- which individuals, I submit, would be those most likely to have legal counsel which would make the "prejudicial pre-trial publicity" argument most vigorously.
That may not be (one of) the motivations for Obama's action. But then again, it just might.
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