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Obama's Sister Soulja Moment?

President Obama’s decision this week to reconsider release of inflammatory Pentagon interrogation photos may mark a shift in his administration’s handling of politically charged national security issues -- upsetting his allies on the left but making some new friends among conservatives in the military.

Obama has asked Atty. Gen. Eric Holder to review an earlier plan to release 44 Department of Defense photos showing harsh interrogation of detainees abroad, according to a senior military official who was informed about the decision. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said yesterday that Obama had “great concern” about the danger for U.S. troops in releasing the photos but didn’t explain further.

“Folks are listening,” said the senior military official, who was among those at the Pentagon who warned Obama that public dissemination of the photos could put U.S. troops in the field at greater risk because of indignation, particularly in the Muslim world, at graphic evidence of U.S. brutality. Those making this case to the White House are said to have included Bob Gates, the secretary of defense; Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. David Petraeus, the CENTCOM commander; Gen. Ray Odierno, the U.S. commender in Iraq; and Gen. David McKiernan, the outgoing U.S. commander in Afghanstian.

Obama seems to have concluded that to achieve the right balance on controversial Bush-era issues such as interrogation -- summed up in the president’s frequent admonition that we need to look forward rather than backward -- he will have to disappoint some liberal supporters. Specifically, his second thoughts about releasing the detainee photos upset the American Civil Liberties Union, which thought it had an administration promise to release the pictures by May 28 in response to an ACLU lawsuit.

Obama had tried to strike that forward-not-backward balance earlier, accompanying last month’s release of CIA interrogation memos with a promise not to pursue a witch hunt against CIA officers who were following Justice Department legal advice. But that blew up in his face, triggering precisely the spasm of backward-looking recrimination and CIA angst that Obama had hoped to avoid.

In releasing the torture memos, Obama had rejected counterarguments from CIA Director Leon Panetta. But he seems to have listened to similar warnings from his military commanders who argued that flooding the Internet with a new batch of photos of Americans engaging in shocking practices would put U.S. soldiers in danger without a commensurate public benefit.

Is this a “Sister Soulja” moment on national security, like bill Clinton’s famous criticism of a controversial rap singer during the 1992 presidential campaign -- which upset some liberal supporters but polished his credentials as a centrist? We’ll have to wait and see, but certainly military officers I spoke with this week were pleased -- even as the ACLU was indignant.

By David Ignatius  | May 13, 2009; 12:37 PM ET
Categories:  Ignatius  | Tags:  David Ignatius  
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Comments

Sometimes the ACLU is just plain wrong and this is one of those times.

There is nothing to be gained by anyone, anywhere, in this world, by releasing photos of Americans acting in a depraved manner towards their detainees. It is enough to know it happened, and, to fix it, so it doesn't happen again. Also, it would be so depressing to see these acts.

Yes, I agree our troops would be in grave danger, and these photos would only feed the hate of those who are already heavily invested in the "hate America" stance.

Posted by: rannrann | May 13, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

It's not just this that has progressives up in arms. Between these photos, his refusal to put the torturer in chief on trial, and whole host of other issues including gay rights he has been a lot more cozy with the right wingers than he has been with the left. He was still a better choice than McCain, but he is certainly a big disappointment to a lot of us who supported him.

Posted by: fedssocr | May 13, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Now you see 'em now ya don't. :)
Depends which way the wind is blowing.

Posted by: njtou | May 13, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Privacy of the actual people tortured by Bush and Cheney is also a sensitive item and needed extra consideration.

Document leading proving criminal activities of Cheney and Bush need to be published to shame them in the country and world community. It will scare the hell out of them to step outside this country.

Posted by: SeedofChange | May 13, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm struck by the unconscious shifts of emphasis in Ignatius's discussion, as in most other public commentary. I think this reflects a general reluctance to, or inability to, come to full-face terms with what America at its highest executive level became in the Bush years. In referring to the same body of practices, Ignatius writes variously of "controversial issues such as interrogation" -- as if the mere act of interrogating anyone is of itself controversial; then of "harsh" interrogation (the word harsh would hardly equate to torture in common usage), then "brutality", then "shocking", and then finally "torture memos".

Posted by: Pragmatix | May 13, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

President Obama wants to accomplish his agenda and thinks this will be a distraction.
IMHO protecting the torturers will come back to bite him, as the Bush administration made the Nixon administration look like child's play.

Posted by: kmblue | May 13, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Senator Chuck Schumer, D, said in the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in June, 2004:

And I’d like to interject a note of balance here. There are times when we all get in high dudgeon. We ought to be reasonable about this. I think there are probably very few people in this room or in America who would say that torture should never, ever be used, particularly if thousands of lives are at stake.

Take the hypothetical: If we knew that there was a nuclear bomb hidden in an American city and we believed that some kind of torture, fairly severe maybe, would give us a chance of finding that bomb before it went off, my guess is most Americans and most senators, maybe all, would say, Do what you have to do.

So it’s easy to sit back in the armchair and say that torture can never be used. But when you’re in the foxhole, it’s a very different deal.

Posted by: DL13 | May 13, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

What a dumb analogy from a normally astute writer.

Bill Clinton's staged rejection of Sistah Souljah was a political tactic within the domestic political arena. I am not judging it as good or bad by saying it, but categorizing it. The idea of a Sistah Souljah tactic is to do something that will affront and anger some of your supporters, in order to appeal to other groups of voters. It's like a move in the board game of domestic politics, typically using a symbolic, catchy, but intrinsically trivial issue. Sistah Souljah was not even a major figure within the world of pop entertainment! This was the very reverse of a life or death affair.

By contrast, in this case our commander in chief had to weigh the importance of the rule of law, transparency, and our deepest constitutional values, which we know from his entire career are central to his own beliefs and thinking, against the possibility of additional risk to American troops. I think he made the wrong decision, simply because the photos will leak out in any case and this adds a poor, morally confused position to the fact that they will be out there anyway. But I respect the moral choices he wrestled with.

To suggest that President Obama made this decision purely on a political basis, to score some quick points with one group of voters versus another, and with no moral compass, without any evidence to support such a smear, is unbelievably insulting and unfair, not only to President Obama but to all who support him.

Shame on you, David Ignatius.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | May 13, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

There is no difference between the USAs treatment of the Iraqi and other detainees that have been tortured and other historic periods of torture of concentration camp detainees during WWII.
Bush and his entire administration and military/intelligence agency heads should be held for war crimes.
How long is the world going to wait until they see the USA truly leads by example and not by "do as I say and not as I do" USA mentality.
War Crimes are just that CRIMES. Heads of the USA who committed killing the head of a foreign country (Iraq), murdering many mens and sons, creating a state of widows, orphans, and displaced families so huge profits could be made by USA oil and military manufacturing companies; eg: Hunt Oil and the former VP's company!
Hang our USA WAR CRIMINALS at the Haigue like all the other in the past.

Posted by: deborahzaki | May 13, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Would we not scream bloody murder if such photos of American servicemembers were shown publicly? Actually, if memory serves, they were--during the Vietnam War--and we did. I'm a liberal and one of those damn card-carrying members of the ACLU, but President Obama has made the right decision on this one.

Posted by: jlhare1 | May 13, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Although we wouldn't want innocent American service personnel harmed - yet one wonders how much of this abuse came about because US soldiers were lied to concerning Iraqi ties to Al Q'aeda or were or are unable to discern which Afghan fighters were associated with Al 'Q'aeda.

More than a few US soldiers in the 2003 Iraq invasion force carried pictures of the Twin Towers thinking they were avenging the attack on the WTC. As we have learned of the war in Vietnam, many of those who opposed US forces, and the French before them, were simple people who wanted nothing more than foreign invader out of their land.

Posted by: bjkalmba | May 13, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Shorter Ignatius: "I don't want to know what we did! LALALALALALALALALALA!"

Hear no evil, see no evil. Just close your eyes, cover your ears and walk on. There's journalism for you...

What a disgrace.

Posted by: SteinslandRune | May 13, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

NOT a "Sister Souljah" moment; perhaps Mr. Ignatius is taking cues in completely inappropriate analogies from Dana Milbank.

I understand and applaud the ACLU for wanting the government -- OUR government -- to come clean. But in this case, public release of pornography (and that's really what you have to call what these pictures probably represent) would serve only prurient interests.

But a better rationale for withholding them would be that they are needed as evidence for war crimes trials of the administration instigators of the abuse. Since Dick Cheney has not simply confessed but also bragged about his role, his trial at least shouldn't take very long. And John Yoo's shouldn't take very long, either.

Posted by: ProbablyNot | May 13, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Well, well, well, ACORNS...what do you think of the Messiah now?

He really shrank down to Barry Soreto ,an NPD sociopath con man, didn't he?

Posted by: dottydo | May 13, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

No, this was not a "Sister SOULJAH" (spell it right, for one thing) moment; one has nothing to do with the other, and once again, it's attempt to lump all things Black with all things Black. It's not just about these pictures, but something else that unnerves me: we do more damage broadcasting about what the military plans to do -where they plan to be, how many troops will be sent, what equipment is/isn't available. This pseudo self-gratification of a "need to know NOW" has become the worse kind of disclosure. Do we know where the Taliban are? No. Anyone want to hazard a guess? I sense the fear about releasing the photos is not because it will make the U.S. appear to becoming 'soft' (putting the human condition before terroristic tactics). Did we all forget that the 9/11 hijackers were ALREADY IN THE U.S., some of them IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM before that day? If we're too busy looking to the skies for more planes, we're missing the person standing right in front of us.

Posted by: mukazzi | May 13, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

"Obama has asked Atty. Gen. Eric Holder to review an earlier plan to release 44 Department of Defense photos.."

A coward's way out of a dilemma. Letting someone else take the heat. Typical Bush.

Is that why Obama wanted to be president? To channel the idiot he succeeded?

Then he succeeded.

Another sad and stupid day for our American democracy.

Thanks much. HLB

Posted by: HLBeckPE | May 13, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

rannrann,

There were 5 beheaded bodies left strewn about by the Taliban this week, so exposing inert torture photo's is not a problem for the World.

They are a problem for Pelosi and 1/2 of the Dem Congress who approved the methods.

Bush and Cheney were smart and put Congress on the hook. The culpable and criminal prosecution would be on them.
Bush and Cheney prosecuted torture which removes their culpability.

Obama, (not so smart) developed his own loophole torture doctrines without Congressional approval which allows worse than they did.


Who came to that conclusion about the Obama loopholes and published it?
The ACLU

Posted by: dottydo | May 13, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

People who think that these photos should come out are plain wrong. Whose interest does this serve? The terrorist and the "told you so" people.

Posted by: TheDiplomat | May 13, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

There is a cost to withholding the photographs. The world will now discount all arguments about how we are not as bad as the Nazis or the KGB or the Khmer Rouge, or that only a handful of high-value suspects were tortured. Logic will dictate that what ever is in those photographs must show war crimes and atrocities on such a horrifying and wide spread basis that it will serve to indict every serving member of the military. By backtracking in this manner, Mr. Obama will pin the “baby killer” label on all of our troops.

If we cannot summon the political will to prosecute torturers and disclose evidence of their crimes, then we are all complicit and no one should have pride in their country, their military or their own personal service.

Posted by: codexjust1 | May 13, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

It is, in fact, far far worse than a "Sister Soulja moment": it reveals a President Obama lacking in the self-confidence that he needs to restore lost American moral stature.

Posted by: FUZZYTRUTHSEEKER | May 13, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Looks like we will have to wait for the truth about 911 to come out before the criminals who looted our country for eight years can be held accountable.

Posted by: shaman7214 | May 13, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

First, can the phrase "Sister Souljah moment" be retired? Second, that was an instance where Clinton made pointed comments toward critics within one constituency; in this instance, the Obama administration is ignoring rather than reprimanding the ACLU.

Posted by: johnc_80 | May 13, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Is he going to release current photos of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Prison which is still open? In his first hundred days victory speech Obama took credit for closing it, but last time I looked, it was still open with the same policies of the Bush era. The proposal to close Guantanamo Bay has been tabled until 2010.

Posted by: XLiberalJack | May 13, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Who cares as long as Cheney is brought up on war crimes.

Posted by: kinoworks | May 13, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Like Bush or not, his administration kept the U.S. safe after 911. This horrible American disaster probably wouldn't have happened if the previous 8 years of Democrat President Clinton had taken the Islam terrorist threat more seriously. Clinton's administration dramatically reduced America's intelligence-gathering capability. True torture does not occur until physical mutilation takes place. If we cannot make life the least bit unpleasant for people who want to kill us, we might as well just hand them a knife and present our bare throat to them.

Posted by: whatthef | May 13, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

AG Holder has a functionary obligation to order the president to comply with a court order to release all the photos.

To not do so, would put the highest legal officer and the commander in chief in contempt of a court order, in addition to the president himself.

Posted by: lockmallup | May 13, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Almost ANY decision by anyone that leaves the ACLU "indignant" is to be celebrated.

Under the FOIA, Obama can overrule a court decision on certain grounds. He's wise to do it here.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | May 13, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Furthermore, how could any true American, have a bleeding heart for these folks at Guantanamo. These are a bunch of cowardly murderers who were not even wearing the millitary uniform of a sovereign nation that has formally declared war on the U.S. These scum hide behind women and children waiting for the opportunity to murder U.S. servicemen. You also know in your heart that we treat these murderers better than other countries treat our captured soldiers. People who think that Bush and Cheney should be prosecuted for war crimes are completely ignorant of the implications this would have on attempts to gather intelligence by all future administrations.

Posted by: whatthef | May 13, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

It's time to try and forget the last 8 years of the Bush / Cheney reign of terror. We need to move on. I'm sick of looking at that piece of crap that used to be called our Vice President ("Big Dick" Cheney) Maybe God will judge them ?

Posted by: wasaUFO | May 13, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Cheney is an incorrigible non-humane


piece of flesh and apparently has brought his daughter up to be the same!

Why the media keeps this dirtbag in the news is beyond comprehension. He is garbage and a cannibale

Posted by: LOONYBIN2000 | May 13, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone notice that today Obama came out to lament the human catastrophe in Sri Lanka to preface his rationale for opposing the release of torture photos? This guy must be the charlatan of the century. Every move he makes, every word he speaks is choreographed to fool most of the people most of the time. And most of the time it works. But what does that say about we, the people, if not that we cannot, or will not, distinguish between authenticity and facade?

Posted by: Fineline | May 13, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Ignatius tells us why some want the photos withheld, but not why the ACLU wants them released. Are they unique evidence, or a fairly insignificant addition to the exist corpus?

I've sent money to the ACLU. They play a vital role in protecting civil rights and maintaining the civil society that is necessary for a successful democracy.

The ACLU does not have the responsibilites of the commander-in-chief in the midst of two wars who needs the loyalty and active, enthusiastic support of the military. I'd listen respectfully to their arguments, but hold them to a high bar.

What about the memos and the CIA? Doesn't Obama need the loyalty and active support of the CIA?

The memos are unique evidence, and not of a specific incident but of policies executed in the name of the People of the United States. We are all responsible for them to some degree. (But let's not be misled into a silly argument that we are all EQUALLY responsible and therefore no one should be held responsible.)

Too many in the CIA's operational branches like the idea of acting outside of the law - there's an excess of enthusiasm that needs to be curbed. Obama kept it as non-political as possible while not ignoring it so far as to condone it. Of course, the right wing inside the CIA will be trying to politicize the release just as their brethren on the outside. One can hope that more objective members of the CIA and its leadership can make the case for the memo release.

Posted by: j2hess | May 13, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm so tired of hearing "Bush\Cheney kept us safe after 9/11".

They didn't keep us safe after 9/10.

Who's job was it to keep us safe on 9/11?

Bush\Cheney.

They failed.

Posted by: newsflash1 | May 13, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm in favor of prosecuting those who ignored U.S. law and put in place policies that led to the torture of prisoners. But I'm not sure why we need to publish additional photos. Prosecuting those responsible is what will help to restore America's moral credibility. I don't really see where splashing the photos across the internet accomplishes that.

Posted by: sonny2 | May 13, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

fairfaxvoter

Excellent post! A direct hit.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 13, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

No, his Sister Souljah moment came 2 days ago when so-called comic Wanda Sykes delivered her downright revolting and decidedly unfunny tirade at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Obama sat through it smiling approvingly. Unlike Clinton, he blew it.

Posted by: MichaelNJ | May 13, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

First, can the phrase "Sister Souljah moment" be retired? Second, that was an instance where Clinton made pointed comments toward critics within one constituency; in this instance, the Obama administration is ignoring rather than reprimanding the ACLU.

Posted by: johnc_80 |

I so agree with johnc_80 and others who've said this is a sloppy, lazy and inaccurate headline and analogy.

Posted by: ArlingtonSnowGal | May 13, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who can actually say "Sistah Soulja moment" with a straight face is spending too much time talking to other Washington journalists. No one else considered "Sistah Soulja" worth talking about at the time, much less now.

Posted by: wlc8 | May 13, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

David Ignatius needs to be serously fvcked in the ass with a baseball bat until all tha's left of his rectum is a bloody pulp. Just saying.

Posted by: burosh | May 13, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Since when has opposition to torture and concern that we have a public airing of what actually went on considered a "liberal" position? There are thousands of Republicans, not to mention military members and families, who are mortified that the previous administration abandonded our principles, which ultimately places more Americans at risk. For Ignatius to equate Obama's position as a slap at the left is embarrassing, and typical of media members incapable of digesting a more complex ideological landscape than a simple left vs. right.

Posted by: CRPren | May 13, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

If Ignatius and the liberals were paying attention, they would know the pictures were made public when the torture was found out. The torturers were tried and punished. There is no reason now to show the pictures again. We are not fighting a way that comes under the Geneva Convention or any treatie. We are fighting TERRORISTS!! They and pireates have no conventions or treaties. They are the scum of the earth!!

Posted by: annnort | May 13, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I meant to say - fighting a war

Posted by: annnort | May 13, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

So, the photos of the torture and abuse are so bad that showing them would endanger American soldiers. What more needs to be said. This could be Obama's Sistah Souljah moment, or, it could be the moment when David Ignatius has fully lost sight of just how brutal and malicious and illegal the Bush-Cheney torture regime was. Too bad he publishes spin from military officers who most certainly have an agenda to sweep the whole damn thing under the rug.

Posted by: sadsadsad | May 13, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Sister Souljah Moment? SISTER SOULJAH?? HOW DARE YOU! Absolute despicable trash.

Comparing people who want to expose US crimes with a racist rapper? How low has this man Ignatius sunk? It shows the kind of bitter and twisted mentality that is so thoroughly entrenched among the beltway neocons who want to rule the world, and they have contempt for silly people worrying about America's morality and ethics.

Somehow WE'RE bad for wanting to expose the truth of brutal American actions that were illegal. A great measure of the kind of twisted morality that seems to take hold of some professional security wonks in DC.

Exposing the Abu Ghraib pictures sent a jolt of electricity through the entire military and lead to strong reforms. It also ripped the facade off the Bush Administration's nefarious actions. (no it wasn't just a few individuals)

Given Ignatius's atrocious past track record, this piece of slander is no surprise. Ignatius is a Neocon to the core. This guy was a hard backer of the iraq disaster, and as we watch Pakistan fight for survival in the Swat Valley, we can thank strategic dunces like him for it with their imperial fantasies of remaking the mideast by sword and bullet.

The Necons flopped once, and they are desperate to own Obama. We can't let it happen. We need to yell loud, long and hard and wake Obama up. These leeches will suck the life out him if he lets them. But at the same time, he has made an awful decision. He does reverse, we need to get on this case 100%. CALL. WRITE. PROTEST!

This will not stand.

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 13, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

All of the great Presidents have governed from the center, and by that I mean that place where the majority of Americans can find more reasons to agree than disagree. Roosevelt may be seen as a progressive liberal now, but in his day he was very much in the political center- that is he had the majority of Americans agreeing with him. The only exception is Lincoln, who was very polarizing but did the correct and necessary thing, even though it eneded up costing many people their lives. Obama is a centrist, and he hopes to achieve many things, and it angers the liberals that his strategy is to shift to the middle to get things done. They wrongly believe that there is a majority of progressive liberals in this country. They are just as wrong as all of those Republicans who keep repeating the mantra that America is basically a conservative country. This country has a large number of conservatives, a large number of progressive liberals, and a large number of pragmatic centrists who swing from center-right to center-left depending on what they think will work. To govern effectively, a Republican president tries to build coalitions around center-right positions that will entice the middle and won't offend the right, but won't necessarily please them either. A democratic president, like Obama, is building his coalition around basic center-left Democratic planks, with an eye on those centrists from both parties. The left won't be thrilled, but most realize that the alternative - a failed presidency that cedes control back to Republicans is far worst. Our founders created a system that is flexible, but it requires grand coalitions and compromises. This has served us well, and it seems to me that Presidebt Obama is on his way to being one of the most effective President's in generations.

Posted by: wbpjr | May 13, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Sister Souljah moment?
Did President Obama tell off some white person?

Posted by: edlharris | May 13, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

AND DAVID JUST HAD HIS "KLU KLUX KLAN MOMENT"

Posted by: danson1 | May 13, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Can David Ignatius be any more vacuous?

Posted by: pmorlan1 | May 13, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

At the same time that Cheney is leading the right wing chorus in howling that "we never tortured"...it was all "the equivalent of a fraternity prank" - Ignatius wants to hide the evidence. One video of CIA waterboarding (since destroyed) - one cache of pictures - would forever destroy the ability of the Bush Administration to lie about what they did.

Because these pictures stay hidden, Ignatius still gets to dance around with euphemisms like "harsh interrogation" and "controversial Bush-era issues". Have the guts to call it what it is, Ignatius - it is torture. Torture too brutal to show. And Cheney gets to continue the lies and the spin, too.

You are not protecting our troops here. Ignatius and the media elite are protecting their own culpability in sweeping this 'little episode' under the rug. Simply shameful.

Posted by: HankNTennessee | May 13, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse


To those clamoring for release of the photos: Do you have a son or daughter, a brother or sister or friend currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Posted by: WylieD | May 13, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

What an odd town Washington must be. Everything seems to be reducible to left or right and pictures of torture can become the moral equivalent to the act it depicts.
Mr. Ignatius' Sister Soulja stretch could only be comfortable in a newspaper that has recently decided that John McCain was subjected to "harsh interrogation" techniques that critics, have likened to torture.
"...We think for the military, in particular that camp, that’s a line [torture] that can’t be crossed...It is hugely significant to us to live the values that we hold so dear and that we have fought so hard to protect over the years."
General David Petraeus

You will let us know when the General has his Sister Soulja moment, won't you Mr. Ignatius?

Posted by: klcscott | May 13, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Amen, klscott and Hank from Tennessee.

Ignatius is one of the beltway creatures who finds idealism and ethics curiously naive or amateur and which stand in the way of effective leadership. Read: listening to all of us National Security hands who have no time for worrying about rights and wrongs, or who lied or how "we the neocons" lied.

It is always couched in the soothing tones of, "we have to deal with things as they are," "What has happened can't be redone," "or we have to go forward." And euphemisms abound that lose force like "harsh interrogation techniques" instead of
"torture."

Imagine the Gulags we would be running today if the Abu Ghraib pictures had never been released? Imagine how unreformed the military would be, and how much worse might have been done.

Imagine if we had not listened to the "realists" and never gone into Iraq and instead hunted down Bin Laden and Zawahiry and stabilized Afghanistan with that trillion dollars and all those troops.

These people are leeches who are trying desperately to get Obama in their camp and "educate him."

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 13, 2009 9:28 PM | Report abuse

And so the O does the right thing. Because he wanted to? If you have a compulsive liar who out of necessity tells the truth for once, are you going to bet the farm on the next ten things he says? If you have a committed leftist who out of necessity puts America first for the first and only time, do you henceforth let him define patriotism? Don't think so.

Posted by: chatard | May 13, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Pathetic. This isn't a Sister Soulja moment. That was an example of political courage in facing down an extremist wing of the Democratic party. This is an example of moral cowardice. Only a complete idiot like this writer would consider prosecuting war crime an "extremist" view.

Mr. Ignatius:
I emailed you once before about your absurd stance on torture. How a hack like you continues to have a paid space to print your **** is beyond me.

Posted by: jcrozier1 | May 13, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I am afraid that this backpedaling may follow directly from the administration's earlier decision not to prosecute those guilty of authorizing torture in the first place.

Let's face it: the pictures by themselves surely would inflame passions against our troops in particular and all Americans abroad generally—unless they were accompanied by the clear message that this was wrong and that those responsible were being brought to justice. That last bit is precisely what prosecutions of the officials responsible for instigating and promoting this appalling policy would have accomplished. By deciding not to pursue the latter; by deciding instead to "look forward, not backward" in a situation where that was never really a realistic option to begin with, it has become necessary for the current administration to become complicit in the continuing cover-up of the Bush administration's most infamous lapse of moral judgment. Thus, the administration has dug themselves into a hole. Baring our national shame to the world while simultaneously doing nothing about it certainly will only make things worse.

There is a solution to this dilemma, however: release the photos, along with the rest of the evidence, at the trials of those responsible for putting our nation in this situation in the first place. The ACLU is not wrong to want to see justice served. Candidate Obama was not wrong to promise that it would be. But, President Obama will be making a terrible mistake if he continues to pretend he can avoid this issue.

Posted by: ned_farrar | May 13, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Crozier, you are so right that this "Sister Souljah" simile is a despicable canard. And it shows what the nicely reasonable Mr. Ignatius really thinks of people who demand ethics and morality to U.S. Actions abroad and in war in general. We are irritants, spoiled children and a blot on the party that the real men need to brush aside.

It is a loathsome and revealing slander on the decent people demanding decency from their government and is, in fact, the best of us. To compare that to street racism shows more about Mr. Ignatius than anything about this issue or the ACLU. It is up to us to save this nation from neocons like Ignatius, whose realistic and well-read brilliance wasn't worth a warm bucket of spit in thinking through the decision to invade Iraq.

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 13, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Great comment, Ned. The refusal to engage in a thorough investigation did set us on the path to avoidng these issues.

I do understand Obama's desire, with the enormous challenges he has to face (the greatest since FDR without doubt) to not want to go back and dig up this cesspool, thereby inflaming and polarizing the nation. He has too much big stuff hanging by a thread.

I understand the impulse. But what I don't understand is the failure to realize that until we deal with this issue once and for all, expose the whole sorry show and pass binding laws to insure it does not happen again, this will be a cancer on him and us as he goes forward. A clean break would be exactly the liberating force he needs to go forth in the world as a new American.

We can pardon the torturers at the end, after they have been exposed and found guilty. And todl never to darken the nation's door again.

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 13, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Breaking.

Looks like some of the pictures have already been released:

http://www.smh.com.au/photogallery/2006/02/15/1139890768970.html?page=3


Posted by: TartanMcc | May 13, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

So it’s easy to sit back in the armchair and say that torture can never be used. But when you’re in the foxhole, it’s a very different deal.

Posted by: DL13 | May 13, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

a) that's not _why_ torture was used
b) that's not _when_ torture was used
c) that's not _how_ torture was used

Torture was used, at the instigation of Dick Cheney, to get somebody - anybody - to "confess" to a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. As a result of this policy, the US launched an invasion of a non-threatening country under false pretenses. This war has led to the deaths of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

BTW, torture is illegal.

Stop wasting our time with your sophomoric exercises in ethics. They have absolutely nothing to do with the reality of the situation. The question "whether to torture or not" really is not a test of your machismo. So stop acting like it is.

Posted by: rick_desper | May 13, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Sorry that link above seems not to be working. Let me try again. There is a website in Australia which claims to have at least 15 of the 60 photos and are now posting them. They look suspicious to me, especially the dead man who looks like he may have been beaten.

http://www.smh.com.au/photogallery/2006/02/15/1139890768970.html?page=3

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 13, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

There's no doubt that the Bush admin tortured and committed warcrimes. Worse yet, the torture was to elicit false information, in part to help the rationale for the Iraq war. What more despicable acts could our government have possibly done?

These are the facts, yet large numbers of people simply want to look the other way.

If we are to have any sense of honor or morality or decency or basic justice, those responsible for torture should be prosecuted.

Coming clean about torture also means we release the photos.

Not releasing the photos only shows we're not serious about justice or international obligations and we're basically a pretty sick people who rationalize completely depraved use of torture by their leaders.

If the govt wants to cover up these crimes, it is also clear that there are many just as bad things they are also covering up, such as the truth about 9/11.

Posted by: adent2 | May 13, 2009 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Nonsense! This is merely the second unforced error Obama has made in the past month. He chose to announce the release of the photos when he could have continued to proceed in the judicial system. Then, he had to be talked down from the cliff by the military generals before he came to his senses.

The first unforced error was releasing the interrogation memos only to inadvertently incriminate Madam Speaker.

Posted by: Captain_Universe | May 13, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

I agree that torturing security detainees, and photographing this torture obsessively, in an attempt to humiliate them and/or blackmail them later, has led to the deaths of at least some of our troops. Sounds like a pretty good argument for holding whoever came up with the idea responsible.

Posted by: William_in_DC | May 13, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

The only path that could justify not releasing the photos would be instead to begin prosecution immediately.

IMHO, no matter how plaintively Obama may cry “Out, damn’d spot!” —- he will not be able to walk off of this tragic ‘war crimes’ stage until this most odious crime is expunged.

So for Obama, the superficially adored hero, the role of a modern Hamlet tentatively deciding whether “to be or not to be” for the war-crimes-Empire could be the last drama on this mortal coil.

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

Posted by: macturna1 | May 13, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Captain Universe. Pelosi was hardly "implicated" and even Bob Graham says he was not told of waterboarding, so that is just wishful thinking on the right and inside the CIA. Dems are unafraid of any of that, believe me. I barely cracked a yawn on it.

The reality is the Dems are in no mood to backpedal on any of this and the testimony today of Soufan and Zelikow nailed it down. The reality is that Obama made the calculation -- against his better instincts -- to appease the military, and that is a major mistake here. They would have suppressed the original Abu Ghraib photos if they could have on the same lame grounds.

Fortunately they could not. And it forced a refrom on the whole military and CIA detention system. Which went a long way towards winning the surge which was tiny in terms of troop numbers.

What your side always claims as realism is what ends up sinking us in the muck of things like this. Releasing the truth of our crimes is an example the world would not forget, and will save lives and benefit America in the long run.

Obama blew this one, big time.

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 13, 2009 11:56 PM | Report abuse

What I haven't seen is an explanation from the torture apologists as to how our troops could possibly be more in harms way than they already are. The evil terrorists hate us because we are free, right? Will they hate us more, try harder to kill us all? Aren't they smart enough to "get" that there must be some pretty rank images if we are that afraid of the consequences of showing them around? What else do ya'll think they might have up their sleeves at this point? Other than bogging down the world's only "superpower" in an unwinnable occupation (or two or three) and waiting for the money to run completely out they got nothing and the pictures aren't going to change that. imo

Posted by: average_joe | May 14, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

The Taliban and Al Qaeda are the scum of the earth. Six months before the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, the Taliban destroyed two ancient statues of the Buddha called Bamiyan in an attempt to cleanse Afghanistan of Indian heresy.

Some of the restrictions the Taliban placed on Women:

Complete ban on women working outside their homes, including teachers, doctors and engineers.

Complete restriction on women's movement outside of their houses without a mahram (father, brother or husband).

Ban on dealing with male shopkeepers.

Ban on being treated by a male doctor.

Ban on studying at school, university or any other educational institution.

Compulsory wearing of a long veil (Burqa) which covers women from head to toe.

Whipping, beating and verbal abuse of women whose Burqa is not worn in accordance to Taliban rules. The same applies to women found in public without a mahram.

Whipping of women in public for having non-covered ankles.

Public stoning of women for having sex outside marriage (a number of lovers are stoned to death under this rule.)

Ban on all use of make-up (a number of women's fingers have been amputated for having painted nails).

A ban on women from talking or shaking hands with non-mahram males.

A ban on women for laughing loudly (no stranger should hear the voice of a women).

A ban on wearing high heeled shoes which would produce sound while walking as hearing the sound of a women's step is forbidden.

A ban on women using a taxi without a mahram.

Banning women's presence in radio, television and gatherings of any kind.

Banning women from playing any sport or entering a sports centre or club.

A ban on women riding a bicycle or a motorcycle even with their mahrams.

A ban on women wearing brightly coloured clothing (in their terms "sexually attracting colours").

Banning women's gatherings on festive occasions such as the Eids or for a recreational purpose.

Banning women from washing clothes next to rivers or at public places.

All place names with the word 'women' in it have been changed. For example "women's garden" has been renamed "spring garden".

Banning women from appearing on the balcony of their apartments or houses.

Compulsory painting of all windows so women can not be seen from the outside.

Banning male tailors from taking measurements or sewing women's clothes.

Banned from using female public baths.

Public buses have been separated into male and female buses.

A Ban on being photographed or filmed.

A Ban on women's pictures being printed on newspapers and books or even hung their own houses.

Ban on listening to music not for women but for men as well.

Total ban on watching movies, television and video for everyone.

Talk about torture!

Posted by: alance | May 14, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Who exactly does Gen. Odeierno commend? Which is to say, does the Post hire proofreaders anymore?

Posted by: Travis5 | May 14, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Gen. Odierno, I mean. My comment above was an irony, huh? Still, I'm not a newspaper....

Posted by: Travis5 | May 14, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Average_Joe. You are 100% dead right, the entire argument that this would endanger the troops is one of the most fatuous and bogus red herrings since Bill Maher got upbraided by Ari Fleischer. As if the fanatics need additonal reasons to go after us, after the minor matter of invading a country illegally, helping get 150,000 Iraqis killed, nearly a million wounded. And torturing and murdering people at Abu Ghraib and Bagram.

It is absolutely laughable that these additonal 60 photos would tip the scale. Many are already on the internet. This is 100% about the Generals covering their butts. The Bush administration was built on these straw arguments. And Obama is smart enough to know that.

Here are some of the photos now:

http://ww.smh.com.au/photogallery/2006/02/15/1139890768970.html?page=3

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 14, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

The truth will set you free. Hiding the truth is certainly not the answer.

Posted by: alzach | May 14, 2009 12:33 AM | Report abuse

One thing Mr. Obama does not seem to understand is that there will be *no* moving forward without looking back. As much as he would just love to pretend it didn't happen and can everybody please just get over it so we can do other things, it won't work. And the MSM (the worst offender being the WaPO) insisting on covering the story as a right/left divide doesn't help. It's a right/wrong, legal vs illegal divide. Until our president faces that fact and deals with it, he's going to be stuck in this quicksand for his entire presidency.

Posted by: hillary12 | May 14, 2009 7:22 AM | Report abuse

The notion that our country is capable of irradicable sin fuels the ACLU's demand to release these photos. It is a conviction held in the same realm as any other religious belief that the US must pay for its sins through acts of expiation.

Posted by: falasifa | May 14, 2009 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Well, it appears to have given comfort to beltway journalists facing an incoming Democratic administration who want desperately to rationalize the obscenities they supported from the previous, distastrous, Republican administration(s). I guess they have that in common with a Sister Soulja moment.

Was that what you meant?

Posted by: nullvoid | May 14, 2009 7:54 AM | Report abuse

I love the "nothing to be gained" argument. Except the rule of law, of course -- torture is illegal under the Geneva Convention, which, as a treaty, is the law of the land. The Bush regime has admitted to it, and in any case, could be convicted of it, with the documentary evidence and witnesses that we all know.

And I love the way conservatives, without irony, are willing to sacrifice the rule of law on the principal that there is "nothing to be gained."

But that's not the real point. The real point is that the United States is divided into two classes of people: The peasants, who must obey the law, and the Lords, like David Igatius, who break the law with impunity.

The term of art is "Banana Republic." And both parties, along with the entire Beltway establishment, have brought us to that point.

Posted by: lambert_strether | May 14, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Tough issue: but we can always rely on the Villagers to take the "high" road given their need for access to State, Defense, etc. We have the largest prison population in the world. Funny: the muckety mucks in Washington get to play by their own self-exculpatory rules. Nice work, if you can get it.

Posted by: bitterpill8 | May 14, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

The horse race never ends for you idiots in the beltway press. This is about rule of law, not about Democrat vs. Republican. Making this a partisan thing is a smokescreen.

Posted by: Gutavo | May 14, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

AH THANK GOD THE WAPO GIVES SPACE TO YET ANOTHER TORTURE APOLOGIST.

They prosecuted the Media in Rwanda for crimes against humanity, I hope they put Ignatius and Hiatt in the dock at The Hague as accomplices after the fact.

Hey Ignatius, Did Rove get a Jane Harman wiretap on you too?

Posted by: feckless | May 14, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"Sister Soulja", /really/?

Do you write this crap in crayon and have a monkey type it up?

Posted by: KilgoreTrout_XL | May 14, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I think holding the photos back is a good thing to do. For our troops. I say do a thorough investigation and use the photos as evidence at trial. We know torture was going on. I don't need to see the photos to believe it happened. Keep Chaney talking, implicating himself and Bush on national television. Then when you've got the whole timeline down and who knew what when, sock it to them!

Posted by: baltimoremom | May 14, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Obama owns these photos now. And so does Ignatius, and the other moral monsters of the DC establishment.

Not releasing them just allows those who saw the original batch of Abu Ghraib photos to use their imaginations for their content.

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | May 14, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

If the photos are not going to be released, then President Obama needs to go back on his word about who won't be prosecuted for their involvement in the torture. Bush, Cheney, et al need to be meaningfully and publicly punished for torture, lying about it, and endangering our troops then and now (the same soldiers still in harms way). Our adversaries who Obama and his generals are so worried about already know that we tortured, and that most of the people tortured were innocent to begin with. But now, the indignation and rage are well established. What will inflame it more is not just more pictures, but the unwillingness of Obama do the right thing and right the egregious wrong. It's fascinating how all this concern for the well-being of our troops now has resulted in inertia, but Bush & Co. got a "surge" despite the revelations at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and our broken promise to leave after Iraqi elections!

Posted by: iphoenix | May 14, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Yes, David Ignatius is so right: being in favor of raping small boys and crushing their testicles in order to extract false confessions from their parents is so totally a "centrist" position in the U.S. Why, the Washington Post has played a key role in helping make this so, by publishing columns like this one from Ignatius.

I've given up on the false hope of accountability for the monsters like Ignatius who seem to have a stranglehold on DC, but I'm fully confident that every last one of them lives in a private hell of some kind - and that the associated suffering will stick with them for eternity. Karma is real, Ignatius. You defend the intentional infliction of searing pain on small children.

Whether you're religious or not, God has a place for you.

My only solace is the knowledge that most Americans feel the way I do about this, and that Ignatius would be summarily flogged were he to try to take this argument outside the Beltway.

Posted by: mateosf | May 14, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Will you people, independents and liberals, attacking Obama stop and catch your breath. I suppose you'll sit out the next election and let Mitt be the President if he's the Republican candidate if not actually vote for him.

Wanting more pictures released seems to be a desire to slow down and rubber neck at a serious accident. If the ACLU wins then you'll get to see the gory details. This should not keep you from keeping pressure on the Congress and Administration from conducting investigations. Obama has to take seriouly the opinions of his military on this one.It's a tough decision for the Commander-in-Chief who is no longer a candidate but the President

Obama had said much earlier that he would close Gitmo within a year. Has a year past? Is it wrong for him to have his staff consider the best way to do that. Is his military commisions one that will observe the rule of law unlike the Bush military commisions. Let's see how they are set up before criticizing. Some of these guys are terrorists.

As for gays in the military, Obama is a politician. This is low priority for him now. This has been made clear. With two wars, he doesn't want to address it now.

Gail Collins-I would rather have Sikorsky design, engineer and build the helicopters not some European led consortium with Lockheed (based in Texas by the way) using semi-skilled low wages to assemble them there and other places. Think of it-Air Force One an Airbus!!

Posted by: frederickboyd | May 14, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

dottydo: Well, well, well, ACORNS...what do you think of the Messiah now? He really shrank down to Barry Soreto ,an NPD sociopath con man, didn't he?

I think President Obama is unfortunately hamstrung by unhinged lunatics like yourself, and that makes his job of rescuing this country from 8 years of unmitigated Republican disaster an even tougher challenge.

What do you think? Take your lithium before you answer, please.

Posted by: jvill1 | May 14, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

So amazed at the number of people who do not know the difference between torture and interregation techniques. Some of you really need to read the memos. They do not allow torture they allow "harsh" interegation techniques designed to gain information form a reluctant trained militant. If you read the memo they address the physical as well as the psychological impact that could be expected. And where did they get the information? From our military who used the same techniques to train our forces to be prepared to escape or evade an enemy. Furthermore, torture does not require medical staff monitoring the process to assure that no permanent damage is done to the "victim."

The release of the photos serves no one and only detracts from our real issues. The release of the memos did nothing but make every terrorist aware of our techniques and now they know they don't have to fear capture. AGAIN read the memo's before you keep spouting off about Bush and Cheny being some sort of monsters.

Here's a link to the NY Times with all 124 pages of information:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/17/us/politics/17detain.html?_r=1&scp=7&sq=CIA%20memos&st=cse

Posted by: lpickard64 | May 14, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Blog the film that will put BUSH BEHIND BARS!!!

Coming Fall 2009

http://thetorturer.com

Posted by: grahamhgreen1 | May 14, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

If consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, David Ignatius is indeed the awesomest hobgoblin. The Washington Post has become another sycophant to the unpopular GOP, apologizing and excusing atrocity at every turn. Pimps up, hoes down, as they say.
What the author and the folks who provide his snuff porn stash to fap to will not mention is the self-evident, obvious, elephant with a swastika in the room: the people of the countries we have chosen to abuse know everything we have done to their people already. Hiding the snuff pr0n is an attempt to avoid reminding Americans that we are in fact exceptionally bad people who let monsters run our nation and pervert, corrode, and abuse our national heritage and creed.

Posted by: sparkplug1 | May 14, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

By David Ignatius | May 13, 2009; 12:37 PM ET
============================================

A pathetic Village insider tries to excuse torture.

I'll be sorry when your paper goes bankrupt and you need to get a real job, David.

Feel my tears!
~

Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya | May 14, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

The latest attempt to block release of pictures may not succeed legally in the lower courts. Is the Obama administration prepared to go all of the way to the Supreme court in order to block release? It would be ironic if the 5 vote conservative block on the supreme court is what finally prevents release.

Posted by: lynch1 | May 15, 2009 5:41 AM | Report abuse

Some great comments making quick work of Ignatius's and other's rationalizations for hiding this, none of which hold up for a moment, including Obama's The President has been trapped into making the exact case the court has already explicitly rejected. Embarrassment of the military is not a reason to withhold facts.

And to everyone saying this is just more of the same type of abuse material we have seen at Abu Ghraib, and thus not useful, you have a problem: you haven't seen them. Repeat: HOW CAN YOU TALK ABOTU THINGS YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN? You don't know what or who is in them. AT ALL.

Publishing the photos might:

1) Show the abuse went far beyond Abu Ghraib and was systematic in the military, meaning higher-ups were involved.

2) Allow Iraqis to identify loved ones who were killed, abused or lost in prisons.

3) Show additional styles of abuse that needs to be banned and investigated.

NOBODY can say these pictures don't add information: YOU HAVEN"T SEEN THEM. This is pure 100% military rear end covering.

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 15, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Some great comments making quick work of Ignatius's and other's rationalizations for hiding this, none of which hold up for a moment, including Obama's The President has been trapped into making the exact case the court has already explicitly rejected. Embarrassment of the military is not a reason to withhold facts.

And to everyone saying this is just more of the same type of abuse material we have seen at Abu Ghraib, and thus not useful, you have a problem: you haven't seen them. Repeat: HOW CAN YOU TALK ABOTU THINGS YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN? You don't know what or who is in them. AT ALL.

Publishing the photos might:

1) Show the abuse went far beyond Abu Ghraib and was systematic in the military, meaning higher-ups were involved.

2) Allow Iraqis to identify loved ones who were killed, abused or lost in prisons.

3) Show additional styles of abuse that needs to be banned and investigated.

NOBODY can say these pictures don't add information: YOU HAVEN"T SEEN THEM. This is pure 100% military rear end covering.

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 15, 2009 1:46 PM
*****************************************
Why is it that whenever people speak of wrongdoing during wartime they always say it is the military's fault. The military takes orders from the executive branch.
The military stops at Chief of Naval Operations, General of the Army, Commandant of Marine Corps, and General of the Air Force.
Anyone higher ranking than these people are politicians. You blame the politicians for allowing these things to happen, not the men and women who sacrifice so much to serve our country. Like it or not when a military member is given an order he follows it. If you are a military member and you are told; 'this is how we will be questionig these prisoners', you follow the order given. If you have an attack of conscience you bring it forward and face the consequences.
This is not a military problem or cover-up it is a political problem or cover-up

Posted by: Kain | May 15, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Kain, I have some sympathy for your view that the military is in no position to resist orders or directives from the civilian leadership, especially given the way we all felt after 9/11 and how we desired to get the job done and see the bad guys dead or in jail.

It seems very clear, the more that is revealed, that the Civilian Leadership took advantage of the post 9/11 atmosphere to push us into places we hadn't gone in a very long time. An important part of the military's job was extracting what was believed to be life-saving information. And the avenues for getting that information were wide-open, newly invested with coercion techniques and results were expected. For a nation and military traumatized by 9/11, worrying about moral niceties seemed unimportant or even treasonous.

However, there were objectors. Military officers who refused to participate. demanded proper rules of engagement and that the UCMJ be clarified and fully applied. They suffered. And it was only the revelations and ESPECIALLY the photos of Abu Ghraib, that broke the hidden world on military and CIA detentions wide open and lead to major reforms inside the military.

This, in the end was the best possible thing for the military and for America, both were shamed and forced to clean up. And today we are far better.

I agree this disgrace came from the Civilian top down, but the military's detention policies were indeed indefensible. And they have shielded the higher ups who allowed this to go on. More photos might mean more scandals and more court martials, but it would also lead directly to the Civilian leadership who created this system and fostered this atmosphere consciously. And I suspect would reveal a far more systematic and command controlled abuse system.

I think this is an embarrassment for the military, the Bush White House, and the nation. But it is an embarrassment all three need to have in order for us to renew. I think the military and America can and will. And this attitude will last for generations.

Posted by: TartanMcc | May 16, 2009 1:37 AM | Report abuse

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