Obama Blocks New Abu Ghraib Photos Showing 'Abuse of Prisoners'
The U.S. Department of Defense was set to release "hundreds of photographs" to the public that showed alleged abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq, but President Obama ordered a stop to their release last Wednesday.
Claiming that the images "would endanger [American] troops", Obama indicated that the release of the images "could fan the flames of a political firestorm over the treatment of terrorism suspects and other detainees during George W. Bush's presidency".
Obama had been hoping to avoid a repeat of the damning Abu Ghraib photos — leaked in 2004 — that outraged the public and "led to convictions for several prison guards" and a firestorm of controversy.
UPDATE | 19 May 2009 — But it appears that of the photos in question, many are previously unreleased photographs from the Abu Ghraib prison.
After losing two court cases, the Pentagon had agreed to release photographs from "more than 60 criminal investigations between 2001 and 2006 [that] show military personnel allegedly abusing detainees" — until Obama ordered that the images not be released.
Obama wants the issue to go back to the courts, although federal appeals judges have ruled the photos could be released.
The top military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan have told Obama that their troops could be in greater danger if new detainee abuse photos are released this spring.
In response, the organization Human Rights First has asked the president to initiate a "non-partisan inquiry to evaluate the full cost of abuses, look at how we got there, and come up with safeguards so we don’t repeat the same mistakes".
Live video coverage of the White House's press briefing on this issue is available online at whitehouse.gov/live
The Defense Department was set to release hundreds of photographs showing alleged abuse of prisoners in detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Last week, the president met with his legal team and told them that he did not feel comfortable with the release of the [Defense Department] photos because he believes their release would endanger our troops, and because he believes that the national security implications of such a release have not been fully presented to the court," the official said.
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