Correction: Sept. 1
I completely missed this correction the New York Times put out about the Abu Ghraib story just three days after the initial story broke.
An article on Saturday about a federal judge’s order regarding photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal misstated a deadline and the response by Defense Department lawyers. The government was given until Friday to black out some identifying details in the material, not to release it. Defense Department lawyers met that deadline, but asked the court to block the public release of the materials. They did not refuse to cooperate with an order for the materials’ release.
Given this information, I amend my position on the government having a legal obligation to release the photos. However, with groups like the ACLU fighting to have them released, I feel it’s only a matter of time before this stuff does come to light. Ignoring that fact only adds more fuel to the fire of our enemy’s hatred, and I still say better now than later.
I’ve called for this before, and now the ACLU is trying to make sure this gets out in the open, as it already should have nearly a month ago. Basically, the government has violated a court order to release the photos/videos, and the ACLU is calling for them to obey.
Frankly, my reasoning for this is simple. Get it out of the way now, and you won’t have to deal with it down the line. This information will have to come out eventually, and there is really no sense in delaying the inevitable.
Keep in mind, the following is from a press release from the ACLU, so it’s definitely coming from a certain point of view. However, I thought this passage was a particularly pertinent part:
Included in papers unsealed today is General Myers’ argument that the photographs must be withheld because “our democratic idea of public accountability — the airing of misdeeds by government officials and employees in order to hold government to the highest standards of conduct — is an idea that is misunderstood in other parts of the world.”
Well, you said a mouthful there General Myers. The point is well taken, but ultimately futile.
When we torture people and evidence is recorded, people will eventually see exactly what we are doing and judge accordingly. This will hurt our image in the Middle East, but better now than later. To wait is to add more fuel to the fire of those who would have this information released, and if we know this is going to come out it makes little sense to try and stonewall.
All thoughts on this issue are welcome and appreciated.