Monday, September 22, 2008
Abuse photos to be released
The federal appeals court that upheld a judge's order releasing photos showing prisoner abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq advances the necessary dismantling of some of the Bush administration's most outrageous policies. The Second Circuit court in New York ruled that U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein was right in 2006 when he ordered the release of the photos over the objection of the Defense Department in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights groups. According to the Reuters international news service, the Pentagon had tried to quash release of the photos, which are said to depict detainees being abused by U.S. soldiers but not sexually humiliated, as they were at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The 29 photos are in U.S. Army investigative files, Reuters said. The Pentagon appealed Hellerstein's order, arguing that releasing the photos could endanger U.S. soldiers and invade the privacy of the detainees. But the appeals court said release of the photos was in the public interest. "The photographs depict abusive treatment of detainees by United States soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan," the court said. The ACLU said the ruling could prevent further abuse of U.S. prisoners. "These photographs demonstrate that the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody abroad was not aberrational and not confined to Abu Ghraib," ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said. "Their release is critical for bringing an end to the administration's torture policies and for deterring further prisoner abuse." The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan declined to comment. The government is expected to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The government's condoning of prisoner abuse in the war on terror has been blamed for a marked deterioration in the international standing of the United States.