Release The Photographs

A mini-round up of those disappointed with Obama. Ackerman doesn't understand why Obama said the photos are not sensational:

If the photos are “not particularly sensational,” then they wouldn’t, as Obama went on to say, “further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.” How can unsensational photographs put troops in danger? Furthermore, at some point, the photos are going to come out whether in the near future, as the ACLU is going to press its Freedom of Information Act request, or decades from now, when the time limit on their classification expires. When they’re released, will Obama really want to stand by describing their contents as “not particularly sensational”?

Marcy Wheeler notes that this violates Obama's new FOIA guidelines:

Granted, a bunch of Generals and Colonels would undoubtedly be embarrassed by the disclosure of abuse that happened on their watch (above all--as Nell suggests--Stanley McChrystal, newly tapped to take over in Afghanistan). Granted, some of those Generals and Colonels (the aforementioned McChrystal) would probably lose their next promotion if these pictures became public. Granted, pundits speculate, abstractly, that the release of another round of torture pictures will inflame the already volatile Iraq and Afghanistan. But those are all invald excuses, according to President Obama's own FOIA guidelines. If you're going to set a rule, follow it yourself.


I have precisely no desire to put our troops in danger. (Just one more reason not to torture people in the first place.) But we are supposed to be a democracy, and what our government does in our name ought to be available to us unless there is some very good reason to keep it secret. And the fact that people would be appalled by it is not such a reason -- if anything, it just makes the case for disclosure stronger. After all, the things it is most important to disclose are the things that people care about, not the things that are a matter of complete indifference.


I briefly had myself convinced that this is a complicated issue, but it really isn’t. There ought to be an overwhelming presumption that the American people have the right to see the facts about what our government is doing in our name, with our money. There has to be some secrecy in the name of national securityit’s good that we don’t publish our nuclear codes or the details of the presidential security detailbut the notion that vague invocations of national interest or policy expediency should be permitted to sweep things under the rug is repugnant.


For all of you defend-Obama-at-all-cost cheerleaders who are about to descend into my comment section and other online venues to explain how Obama did the right thing because of National Security, I have this question: if you actually want to argue that concealing these photographs is the right thing to do, then you must have been criticizing Obama when, two weeks ago, he announced that he would release them. Otherwise, it's pretty clear that you don't have any actual beliefs other than: "I support what Obama does because it's Obama who does it." So for those arguing today that concealing these photographs is the right thing to do: were you criticizing Obama two weeks ago for announcing he would release these photographs?