Secretary of Defense Says Americans Should Not See Torture Photos

November 18th, 2009 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')

Move along, folks. Nothing to see here

In a brief filed late Friday night, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates invoked his authority to block the release of photos depicting the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody overseas.


“We are disappointed that Secretary Gates has invoked new legislation to keep the torture photos secret,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. “These photos are an important part of the historical record and they are crucial to the ongoing debate about accountability. In withholding the photos, Secretary Gates has cited national security concerns, but no democracy has ever been made stronger by suppressing information about its own misconduct.” [emphasis added]

An amendment to a Homeland Security appropriations bill passed at the end of last month grants the Department of Defense the authority to suppress certain photographs deemed harmful to national security.

Suppressing exposure of potentially criminal actions because they have been “deemed harmful to national security.” That sounds like something right out of a third world banana republic. What it more likely endangers is the ongoing maintenance of national insecurity.

“The government’s argument for suppression of the photos sets a dangerous precedent “that the government can conceal evidence of its own misconduct precisely because the evidence powerfully documents gross abuses of power and of detainees,” said Alex Abdo, a legal fellow with the ACLU National Security Project. “This principal is fundamentally anti-democratic. The American public has a right to see the evidence of crimes committed in their name.”

Accountability? Responsibility? Do people really want to know? Maybe if it was packaged into some kind of “reality TV” show (literally, in this instance), perhaps it could be made marketable (since everything in our consumer society is about ‘marketability’) and amenable to distribution. “Interrogators Gone Wild” or “Troops Gone Band” or some such might be the hit the infotainment “news” networks are looking for.

Read The Complete Report

More information about the ACLU’s FOIA litigation is at:

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