The Missing Photographs, Ctd.

Matthew Schmitz doesn't think that all of the photos should be released:

Releasing all of the Abu Ghraib pictures would make available a numbing flood of sadistic images, with the same inhuman acts, the same cruel poses, staged over and over. Making more of these available would bring nothing new to light. There were also photos whose release would serve no public purpose like the pictures of Abu Ghraib torturers Lynndie England and James Graner engaged in sex acts. So while I’m very sympathetic to Andrew’s frustration about the fact that many of these pictures are still withheld from public view, I’m more reassured by the fact that they have been reviewed by the courts and the press and that a representative sample has been released.

I've little problem with not releasing photographs of dubious public value, but the "flood of sadistic images" seems relevant when trying to establish whether the torture problem was systemic or uncoordinated. In this case, redundancy matters. The evidence so far shows that memos were issued allowing abuse and torture of prisoners, and that the very same techniques outlined in the memos spread like wildfire throughout every theater of war, and that photography is critical to proving this. When you hear the word "stress position" it's easier to block it out and keep on walking in Noonan fashion. When you see the exact same stress position in memos and dozens of photos from all over the world, you begin to see reality.

Since euphemisms and Orwellianisms have been deployed to obscure this reality, and time used to desensitize us to them, more reality in the form of photography is a public service.

I can certainly see why the Pentagon would want to restrict this. What I do not understand is why a newspaper would decide to withhold information from its readers. But the fact is: the MSM both did an amazing job inasmuch as reporters - Dana Priest, Jane Mayer, Mark Danner, Sy Hersh, et al - cracked this story open; and did an appalling job in adopting the language of those protecting evidence of war crimes and acting as de facto propaganda outlets for the Bush administration. Just as the NYT should cease its embarrassing refusal to use the word torture to describe torture, so should the WaPo post every single photo it has of prisoner abuse on its website.