Obama + Odierno Make Case For Torture Prosecutions

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They just didn’t know they were making that case. (Warning FOX link don’t click unless absolutely necessary) Today it was announced that both President Obama and General Odierno agreed that they will not release photos of US detainee abuse.

A senior administration official told FOX News that Obama told his legal advisers last week that he did not feel comfortable with the release of the photos because he believes they would endanger U.S. troops, and that the national security implications of such a release have not been fully presented in federal court.

So, the pictures are so bad that they endanger Americans here and abroad? Yes. That’s one of the most important reasons to prosecute for torture. It could save lives.

This just in. General David Petraeus makes the same argument.

CNN reports that Gen. David Petraeus was among top military officers who pressed for blocking the photos, expressing concern that the release of the “very explicit photos” would put U.S. troops at risk from violent reaction in the Mideast and Afghanistan.

Yes of course. These violent pictures would put troops at risk. And the torture that we have done IS putting them at risk right now. We’re all at greater risk of being attacked if we are a torturing nation. Guess who else is on board? (From same USA Today article)

Update at 12:50 pm. ET: The AP quotes Morrell as saying that Defense Secretary Robert Gates shares those concerns. He says lawyers are looking at their options.

Everyone agrees releasing the photos would be dangerous. So, they must all agree that torturing in the first place was extremely dangerous to the security of US troops, and Americans traveling abroad (as well as god forbid Americans at home.) There are many good reasons to prosecute those that ordered, implemented and assisted in torture and conspiracy to torture. Not prosecuting puts countless lives at risk for political convenience. Matthew Alexander, an American interrogator during the Iraq War, makes this case better than I ever could.

I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me — unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.

Crossposted at the DailyKos Click for Poll

Teharper248 at DailyKos pointed to this quote from Matthew Alexander.

One actually told me, “I thought you would torture me, and when you didn’t, I decided that everything I was told about Americans was wrong. That’s why I decided to cooperate.”

Update 2: Robert Gibbs moments ago in his press conference.

He believes that the release of these photos could pose a threat to the men and women we have in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan.



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  1. this:

    The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

    “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.”

    More information about the ACLU’s FOIA lawsuit, which has resulted in the release of more than 100,000 government documents to date, can be found online at: http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia

    • Edger on May 13, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    when the media starts telling people that he wouldn’t release them because he thinks that they would put U.S. troops at risk from violent reaction in the Mideast and Afghanistan, peoples imaginations are going to make them out to be even worse than they already are, and THAT will put U.S. troops at risk.

    He will be seen, with good reason, to be covering for war criminals even more than he already is…

  2. This is a pretty damning admission by these Generals and our Commander in Chief. Photos = dangerous to national security, that means the acts themselves are at least as dangerous.  

  3. releasing the pictures of what we did is insane. The countries where we applied torture and bombing and killing know full well what occurred they lived and still live with it everyday. The rot at the heart of this ‘debate’ is continuing to have the same ‘mission’ with a kinder gentler application. Baloney that it puts troops at risk. what puts troops at risk is using them to enact neocon illegal policies that declare nation states terrorists and therefore must invade and kill the people in order to be safe. how fucked up is this?

    Torture is a symptom of our lawlessness. I very much doubt that Obama is worried about the troops. More likely he’s worried about the people who live here seeing what we do, the reality of our war on terror. Calling this a ‘mission’ instead of a continuation of illegal aggressive war, passed off as security with the same old boogiemen lurking everywhere we decide to ply our barbarism. Who are we that we have the right to do this and then are told to move forward and don’t look at the evil we do cause it’s dangerous to our mission?

    You want to believe that this is so he can prosecute, if that’s the case why is he building a bigger prison in Bagram? Why are we going to surge in Afghanistan? Why are we not out of Iraq yesterday and paying them retribution for what we have done. These are war crimes and it’s important we see the pictures in order to stop the policies that call these crimes national security.

    The Spooks who are the henchmen for the war criminals we unleash for intelligence to justify our aggression and crimes. They still have all the power they need to ‘keep us safe’ but we cannot look at what they do. Disgusting and indefensible, harm’s way my ass what about those our troops kill who’s going to keep these people out of harms way. Any ‘firestorm’ that comes their way is nothing compared with the number of humans we torture and kill for national security, all excused because we are protecting ourselves from potential terrorists we create with our inhumanity  unfuckingbelievable. There is no good time for revealing war crimes, they are an open book to everyone except the good Germans who debate their necessity and forbid us to look at what we do.              

    • ANKOSS on May 14, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Any lingering belief in Obama’s integrity has been ended by this deliberate decision to conceal torture evidence. Rahm and the White House Machiavels have persuaded Obama that the primary function of the President is to be the head of the advertising agency for Team America. Note that the “endangering soliders” excuse is exactly what the Bush administration tried to block the Abu Ghraib photo publication. Meet the new boss: same as the old boss.

    After this decision, the only people who will believe Obama’s promises will be members of his personality cult.  

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