Go to contents

Pres. Obama Shifts Stance on Releasing Abuse Photos

Posted May. 15, 2009 08:02,   


U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday said he will seek to block releasing photos showing American troops abusing prisoners of war in Iraq and Afghanistan under the previous Bush administration.

“The photos had already served their purpose in the investigation of a small number of individuals,” President Obama said, “The pictures will further inflame anti-American sentiment and endanger U.S. forces.”

American commanders in the two war zones have expressed deep fears over the potential damage the photos might do, prompting the president`s decision after a meeting with legal experts. He seems to have considered the possible impact on the presidential election in Afghanistan slated for August.

The photos in question emerged in 2004 from the infamous U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq when the U.S. military conducted an investigation. When the Pentagon refused to release photos of the incidents, the American Civil Liberties Union sued in 2004 and won in September last year.

The Obama administration promised in a statement to the court April 23, “We will release it by May 28.”

The court ordered the release of 44 photos. A lawyer representing the civil rights watchdog claimed there are as many as 2,000 pictures.

The photos in question include an American prison guard trying to sodomize a detainee with a broomstick in a push-up position; two female soldiers posing beside a naked hooded prisoner with his eyes covered; and a hooded detainee kneeling down on a transporter with a Playboy magazine picture on his laps.

Liberal groups are blasting President Obama for breaking his promise of transparency in reversing his position, saying this is part of President Bush’s secrecy.