Dear Mr. Fantasy

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

The {Obama} administration first sought to change FOIA in June, shortly after deciding to contest a ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that ordered the photos’ release. The resulting bill, championed by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), was specifically designed to nullify the effect of the appeals court’s ruling. Since the court had ruled that the photos couldn’t be withheld under an existing FOIA exemption, the Obama administration simply asked Congress to carve out a new exemption. Despite objections from liberal members of the House, Congress obliged.

The new exemption’s requirements are stunningly lax. In order to withhold the photos, Gates simply had to certify, as he did in the court filing, that “public disclosure of these photographs would endanger citizens of the United States, members of the United States Armed Forces, or employees of the United States Government deployed outside the United States.” In other words, their release had to endanger someone, somewhere. And in the unlikely event that Gates had to stretch the truth to make that certification, it wouldn’t matter, since there’s no provision in the law that allows any court to review Gates’ determination or rule on whether it was truthful.

This isn’t just a few photos. Gates’ block could apply to a far larger group of images than the 44 that are at issue in the ACLU’s lawsuit. “The photographs include but are not limited to the 44 photographs” in the suit, Gates wrote in his certification.


Now it appears that Gates has blocked the release of a large number-perhaps all-of the extant photos depicting abuse during the period from September 11th until the end of the Bush administration.

But anyway, he’s Obama, and this is change you can believe in. Is our children learning yet? And he’s got three more years to go. Sigh. Were you surprised?


This is an open thread. Yell or rant about this or about anything else you have on your mind. Here’s some better music.


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    • Edger on November 15, 2009 at 15:10


    • justCal on November 15, 2009 at 16:42


  1. volunteer army…keep the images of war from the TV and press…brainwash the sheeple with the boob tube…total information control (except the innerwebz, but they’re working on that).

    But anyway, he’s Obama, and this is change you can believe in. Is our children learning yet? And he’s got three more years to go. Sigh. Were you surprised?

    I believe the youth are the key, they are currently controlled by our educational system and video games, they need to become activist and get involved like the 60’s and early 70’s. They need to listen and learn from this song.

    • Edger on November 15, 2009 at 21:51

    According to the bill, the phrase “protected documents” refers to photographs taken between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009, and involves “the treatment of individuals engaged, captured or detained” in the so-called “war on terror.” Photographs that Gates determines would endanger troops and government employees could be withheld for three years.

    The ACLU said Gates’ certification “is categorical with respect to all of the photos and fails to provide the individualized assessment that the amendment’s language requires and also fails to provide any basis for the claim that disclosure of the photos would harm national security.”

    The group intends to file a response to the administration’s brief next week.

    In an oped column published in the Los Angeles Times last month, Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said although the powers Congress granted Gates is meant to cover the abuse photos, it “could also cover, for example, video footage of aerial attacks that resulted in civilian casualties or photos showing the conditions of confinement at the Bagram detention center in Afghanistan.”

    “The legislation establishes a regime of censorship that would extend to many images of the military’s activities abroad.” Jaffer wrote.

    Obama’s decision to sign legislation into law that allows his administration to circumvent FOIA marks an about-face on the open-government policies that he proclaimed during his first days in office.

    Gates Invokes New Authority to Block Release of Detainee Abuse Photos,

    Jason Leopold, today

  2. I’m an Obama-rot. I hoped and hoped. no more. I’ve never been represented by a single one of my elected ‘representatives’ at the Federal or the state level, and that is still the case. there is no justice. there will be no change of any kind, just more of the same. confirms my life-long small “i” independent voter status once again.

    the fact that I ever allowed a single iota of hope to enter into my thoughts just proves that I am too dumb to be trusted by the really important people and that I need to be herded along with the rest of the cattle-class, i spose.

    • robodd on November 16, 2009 at 01:26

    between Dylan’s Tambourine Man and Traffic’s Dear Mr. Fantasy?

  3. Then how he inched to the Right as the General began.

    And how he inched to the right after he won the General.

    While inching to the right ever since.

    Everybody completely forgets that Obama is here only because he did not support the intervention in Iraq. That issue dominated his early surge in the primaries, and it gave him the impetus to hold on, barely. He knew that to win the General he needed some Hawk credibility, so he always kept Afghanistan as a convenient counter to Iraq.

    The major test for me, with respect to foreign policy, will be his decision (to be announced soon) to either get out of Afghanistan as promptly as possible, or to have capitulated to his own “campaign strategy”. Certainly, a blind man knows Afghanistan is a farce.

    Carving up the FOIA is abominable, but at least people aren’t dying and resources being squandered. Getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan (asap) will, at least, have erased the “original sin” that caused these horrible photos to have arisen in the first place.

    To hide the photos AND to remain in Afghanistan/Iraq indefinitely would be ominous, and certainly would show who’s really got his ear.

  4. He got started with General Dynamics money.

    Like others have said above, not surprised, but I still hoped he would be better than this, and I too voted for him. I won’t ever vote for any Democrat again, well except Kucinich, if I could.

    I think that the ascension of HRC and O is a lesson in how well the powers have learned to play the identity politics card–see the recent essay here, where the writer is more concerned with how many black CEOs there are than with the whole concept of how much power those CEOs actually have or what they do with it.  This bunch has been played, will continue to be played, just as the Repugs play the bible thumpers over abortion every 4 years.   The rancor between the two groups in the primaries had nothing to do with issues, it had to do with the identity identifiers identifying.  

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