Jason Leopold Exclusive: “Army Documents Describe Prisoner Abuse Photos Obama is Withholding”

Barack Obama backflipped on his promise to make public photos depicting detainee abuse by U.S. personnel overseas, however one intrepid independent reporter has managed, digging through government files obtained through an ACLU FOIA request, to unearth detailed documents describing the photographs.

U.S. Army soldiers in Afghanistan took dozens of pictures of their colleagues pointing assault rifles and pistols at the heads and backs of hooded and bound detainees and another photograph showed two male soldiers and one female solider pointing a broom to one detainee “as if I was sticking the end of a broom stick into [his] rectum,” according to the female soldier’s account as told to an Army criminal investigator.

President Barack Obama said Wednesday he would not release these photographs, reversing a promise he made a month ago, fearing it would stoke anti-American sentiment and endanger U.S. troops.

I found the documents that describes the photographs on the website of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU obtained the files, but not the photographs, in 2005 as part of the organization’s wide-ranging Freedom of information Act lawsuit against the federal government related to the Bush administration’s treatment of “war on terror” prisoners in U.S. custody.

Read the entire article at The Public Record…

Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU, said in a press release May 13, 2009:

“The Obama administration’s adoption of the stonewalling tactics and opaque policies of the Bush administration flies in the face of the president’s stated desire to restore the rule of law, to revive our moral standing in the world and to lead a transparent government. This decision is particularly disturbing given the Justice Department’s failure to initiate a criminal investigation of torture crimes under the Bush administration.

“It is true that these photos would be disturbing; the day we are no longer disturbed by such repugnant acts would be a sad one. In America, every fact and document gets known – whether now or years from now. And when these photos do see the light of day, the outrage will focus not only on the commission of torture by the Bush administration but on the Obama administration’s complicity in covering them up. Any outrage related to these photos should be due not to their release but to the very crimes depicted in them. Only by looking squarely in the mirror, acknowledging the crimes of the past and achieving accountability can we move forward and ensure that these atrocities are not repeated.

“If the Obama administration continues down this path, it will betray not only its promises to the American people, but its commitment to this nation’s most fundamental principles. President Obama has said we should turn the page, but we cannot do that until we fully learn how this nation veered down the path of criminality and immorality, who allowed that to happen and whose lives were mutilated as a result. Releasing these photos – as painful as it might be – is a critical step toward that accounting. The American people deserve no less.”


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    • Edger on May 15, 2009 at 21:32

    deserve no less, Mr. Obama.

    • Edger on May 16, 2009 at 00:28

    From Jeralyn at Talkleft this afternoon:

    Raw Story reports the torture photos the Obama Administration reversed course on releasing this week include photos released by the Australian news in 2006. Raw Story, as well as TalkLeft, published them then.

    So if the world has already seen them, and a federal appeals court has upheld a trial court’s order to produce them to the ACLU, what’s Obama’s justification?“, asks Jeralyn.

  1. In an interview with Larry King last Monday, Ventura, who had been waterboarded as part of SERE during his Navy Seal training, responded to a question about what waterboarding was like by saying:

    VENTURA:  It’s drowning. It gives you the complete sensation that you are drowning. It is no good, because you — I’ll put it to you this way, you give me a waterboard, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.

    Reported in Glenn Greenwald on Salon, 5/13/06.


    • dkmich on May 16, 2009 at 16:48

    I had the pleasure of a fund raising phone call from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which gave me the opportunity to tell them what I think of Democrats, Blue Dogs and Obama.  She said “I don’t see it that way.”  I said:  “Fine, argue with your voters.  I’ve only been voting for Democrats for 40 years, and I promise you I will never vote for another Democrat just because they aren’t a Republican.    

  2. some thoughts regarding Obama’s backflip on releasing the pictures that are well worth reading, and passing along.

    a taste:

    Maybe, Mr. President, you’ve succumbed to all the fear-mongering that the Bush administration and Republican Party sold for so long. Most Democrats have been silent enablers so consistently — maybe we’ve all bought into it. We know the truth but we still can’t admit it; just as for years signs and traces of torture performed in our name were there, we saw without seeing, and knew without knowing. When those first photos from Abu Ghraib were broadcast around the world five years ago, we told ourselves the sadism was the work of just a few maniacs. When we heard the privatization frenzy that spread like a cancer through the Bush years extended even to interrogation — effectively making torture its own nightmarish “cottage industry” — we looked away. And now our first official response is to let it all slide… and just move on.

    If we do, we are truly lost. This kind of willful collective blindness must not endure, and it must never happen again. It’s not enough to be against torture, in this new political moment when speaking out against it is suddenly in vogue. All the information now so readily available contradicts all the official narratives: that we didn’t know, a few bad apples, that those responsible have already been investigated and punished. And then there’s the outrageous substitute for a narrative, the debate about whether or not torture works. It’s a question so insane, it probably makes bin Laden grin like a Cheshire cat.

    So, if torture works, we should… perfect it and use it? Complete insanity….

    We hope, Mr. President, you will lead, but the Constitution doesn’t allow you to obstruct justice… The Department of Justice must act with conviction and follow the law.

    We understand the enormous pressures and complexities you confront everyday. But the old defenses for these crimes sound hollow and horrible coming from your lips. You are defending the indefensible.

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