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Deconstructing Obama's Excuses

In trying to explain his startling decision to oppose the public release of more photos depicting detainee abuse, President Obama and his aides yesterday put forth six excuses for his about-face, one more flawed than the next.

First, there was the nothing-to-see-here excuse. In his remarks yesterday afternoon, Obama said the "photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib."

But as the Washington Post reports: "[O]ne congressional staff member, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the photos, said the pictures are more graphic than those that have been made public from Abu Ghraib. 'When they are released, there will be a major outcry for an investigation by a commission or some other vehicle,' the staff member said."

The New York Times reports: "Many of the photos may recall those taken at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which showed prisoners naked or in degrading positions, sometimes with Americans posing smugly nearby, and caused an uproar in the Arab world and elsewhere when they came to light in 2004."

And if they really aren't that sensational, then what's the big deal?

Then there was the the-bad-apples-have-been-dealt-with excuse. This one, to me, is the most troubling.

Obama said the incidents pictured in the photographs "were investigated -- and, I might add, investigated long before I took office -- and, where appropriate, sanctions have been applied....[T]his is not a situation in which the Pentagon has concealed or sought to justify inappropriate action. Rather, it has gone through the appropriate and regular processes. And the individuals who were involved have been identified, and appropriate actions have been taken."

But this suggests that Obama has bought into the false Bush-administration narrative that the abuses of detainees were isolated acts, rather than part of an endemic system of abuse implicitly sanctioned at the highest levels of government. The Bushian view has been widely discredited -- and for Obama to endorse it suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of the past.

The notion that responsibility for the sorts of actions depicted in those photos lies at the highest -- not lowest -- levels of government is not exactly a radical view. No less an authority than the Senate Armed Services Committee concluded in a bipartisan report: "The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own....The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees."

But as The Washington Post notes: "[N]o commanding officers or Defense Department officials were jailed or fired in connection with the abuse, which the Bush administration dismissed as the misbehavior of low-ranking soldiers." And the "appropriate actions," as Obama put it, have certainly not yet been taken. The architects of the system in which the abuse took place have yet to be held to account.

Then there was the no-good-would-come-of-this excuse.

Obama said it was his "belief that the publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals."

But the photos would add a lot. It was, after all, the photographs from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq that forced the nation to acknowledge what had happened there. There is something visceral and undeniable about photographic evidence which makes it almost uniquely capable of cutting through the disinformation and denial that surrounds the issue of detainee abuse.

These photos are said to show that the kind of treatment chronicled in Abu Ghraib was in fact not limited to that one prison or one country. They would, as I wrote yesterday, serve as a powerful refutation to former vice president Cheney's so far mostly successful attempt to cast the public debate about government-sanctioned torture as a narrow one limited to the CIA's secret prisons.

Then there was the "protect-the-troops" excuse.

Said Obama: "In fact, the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger."

But the concern about the consequences of the release, while laudable on one level, is no excuse for a cover-up.

Glenn Greewald blogs for Salon: "Think about what Obama's rationale would justify. Obama's claim...means we should conceal or even outright lie about all the bad things we do that might reflect poorly on us. For instance, if an Obama bombing raid slaughters civilians in Afghanistan..., then, by this reasoning, we ought to lie about what happened and conceal the evidence depicting what was done -- as the Bush administration did -- because release of such evidence would 'would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.' Indeed, evidence of our killing civilians in Afghanistan inflames anti-American sentiment far more than these photographs would. Isn't it better to hide the evidence showing the bad things we do?...

"How can anyone who supports what Obama is doing here complain about the CIA's destruction of their torture videos? The torture videos, like the torture photos, would, if released, generate anti-American sentiment and make us look bad. By Obama's reasoning, didn't the CIA do exactly the right thing by destroying them?"

Then there was the chilling-effect excuse.

Said Obama: "Moreover, I fear the publication of these photos may only have a chilling effect on future investigations of detainee abuse."

But how so? Under questioning, press secretary Robert Gibbs failed miserably to explain that particular rationale at yesterday's press briefing.

"[I]f in each of these instances somebody looking into detainee abuse takes evidentiary photos in a case that's eventually concluded, this could provide a tremendous disincentive to take those photos and investigate that abuse," Gibbs said.

Q. "Wait, try that once again. I don't follow you. Where's the disincentive?"

Gibbs: "The disincentive is in the notion that every time one of these photos is taken, that it's going to be released. Nothing is added by the release of the photo, right? The existence of the investigation is not increased because of the release of the photo; it's just to provide, in some ways, a sensationalistic portion of that investigation.

"These are all investigations that were undertaken by the Pentagon and have been concluded. I think if every time somebody took a picture of detainee abuse, if every time that -- if any time any of those pictures were mandatorily going to be necessarily released, despite the fact that they were being investigated, I think that would provide a disincentive to take those pictures and investigate."

Get that? Yeah, me neither.

And finally, there was the new-argument excuse.

Gibbs said "the President isn't going back to remake the argument that has been made. The President is going -- has asked his legal team to go back and make a new argument based on national security."

But as the Los Angeles Times reports, the argument that releasing the photographs could create a backlash "was raised and rejected by a federal district court judge and the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which called the warnings of a backlash 'clearly speculative' and insufficient to warrant blocking disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

"'There's no legal basis for withholding the photographs,' said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's National Security Project, 'so this must be a political decision.'"

Margaret Talev and Jonathan S. Landay write for McClatchy Newspapers: "The request for what's effectively a legal do-over is an unlikely step for a president who is trained as a constitutional lawyer, advocated greater government transparency and ran for election as a critic of his predecessor's secretive approach toward the handling of terrorism detainees.

"Eric Glitzenstein, a lawyer with expertise in Freedom of Information Act requests, said he thought that Obama faced an uphill legal battle. 'They should not be able to go back time and again and concoct new rationales' for withholding what have been deemed public records, he said.

"The timing of the president's decision suggests that a key factor behind his switch of position could have been a desire to prevent the release of the photos before a speech that he's to give June 4 in Egypt aimed at convincing the world's Muslims that the United States isn't at war with them. The pictures' release shortly before the speech could have negated its goal and proved highly embarrassing. Even if courts ultimately reject Obama's new position, the time needed for their consideration could delay the photos' release until long after the speech."

Peter Wallsten and Janet Hook write in the Los Angeles Times: "President Obama's decision Wednesday to try to block the court-ordered release of photographs depicting alleged abuse of detainees by U.S. soldiers sets him on a confrontational course with his liberal base. But it is a showdown he is willing to risk -- and may even view as politically necessary...

"Obama now can tell critics on the right that he did his best to protect the nation's troops, even if the courts eventually force the disclosure.

"Obama has been facing intense criticism from former Vice President Dick Cheney and other conservatives, who have argued that the new administration's efforts to roll back Bush-era interrogation policies have made the country less safe.

"The praise for Obama that came Wednesday from Republicans such as House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina can only help undercut those arguments."

But, Wallsten and Hook write: "Obama's dilemma is that he risks undermining one of the core principles he claimed for his presidency: transparency."

The Washington political-media establishment seems to approve of Obama's decision.

Rick Klein writes in ABC News's The Note: "In the broader context, it's cast as a sign of political maturation, maybe even classic Obama pragmatism. This is what it's like to be commander-in-chief -- one of those tough choices where there's no easy answer, and no shame in reversing yourself."

Ben Smith and Josh Gerstein write in Politico that Obama's reversal "marks the next phase in the education of the new president on the complicated, combustible issue of torture."

Washington Post opinion columnist David Ignatius blogs: "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?"

But anti-torture bloggers reject the comparison.

Andrew Sullivan blogs: "The MSM cannot see the question of torture and violation of the Geneva Conventions as a matter of right and wrong, of law and lawlessness. They see it as a matter of right and left. And so an attempt to hold Bush administration officials accountable for the war crimes they proudly admit to committing is 'left-wing.' And those of us who actually want to uphold the rule of law ... are now the equivalent of rappers urging the murder of white people."

In a separate post, Sullivan writes: "Slowly but surely, Obama is owning the cover-up of his predcessors' war crimes. But covering up war crimes, refusing to proscute them, promoting those associated with them, and suppressing evidence of them are themselves violations of Geneva and the UN Convention. So Cheney begins to successfully coopt his successor."

By Dan Froomkin  |  May 14, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Torture  
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Next: Obama's Great 'Honor'

Comments

There is one simple explanation for Obama's reversal - he got Cheneyed. Remember right after the election Cheney made his invitation to the Dark Side, that White House Watch reported on, to look kinder at the past atrocities of the Bush administration. At the time Obama coolly dismissed it. Now he is drinking their Kool-Aid because Cheney continues to browbeat him. What Obama doesn't seem to understand is that by giving in to the Bush apologists and alarmists, he is not gaining anything from them. They will continue to attack him until he is no longer President because they don't like him. He should just stay on the high ground that we voted him into office to do. I also believe like many others that the prisoner abuse WAS systematic, not isolated to lower ranking soldiers. And if Obama continues to block release of evidence pointing to higher ups directing this, he is complicit in the abuse by protecting those who directed the abuse. And that is unacceptable to this veteran.

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

Nice summary, Dan. Illuminating as always.

This is a very big disappointment, and the proferred rationales make it more so. The only way to react to this is to speculate just how bad the photos are.

Obama seems to have missed the point in his zeal to "move on"; we cannot do so until we have reconciled who we are with what we did. Americans know that our government committed war crimes and that the decision to do so came out of the White House. Obama would like to avoid the mess of public trials of the former administration and move on to his ambitious agenda, but we can't do that. We're a nation of laws. The guilty must be punished and the rest of the world has to see that we are an honest people.

Release the photos. Prosecute the war criminals. Then we can move on.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 14, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I agree, that every argument Obama's made for withholding the photos is flawed. He's smart enough to know that, which means it's a political decision he's making: the backlash, from whatever quarter, will be too great for him right now. That backlash might be from the Cheney/Bush supporters, though I doubt it, since they're merely an hysterical faction. I think he's playing toward the world, trying to mitigate, for the time being, the anti-US sentiment. This issue is simply another hand grenade the Cheney regime left to Obama, and there's no way to deal with it that doesn't involve damage. (Closing Guantanamo and dealing with illegally detained, but highly dangerous, prisoners is another.) Any who criticize Obama for even trying to resolve this untenable situation have their priorities backwards.

One argument, specifically, offends me more than the rest: the save-the-troops rationale, that foreigners will take out their fresh rage on our troops deployed overseas, should the photos be released. Yes, that's a real possibility. It's also a perfect illustration of how those pathetic chickenhawks Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld held the army hostage for years, appropriating only emergency spending for their war of choice and crying that not authorizing payment was the same as denying the troops. Those felons hung the army out to dry for nearly a decade, and it's their same defense now.

There's a word for that, and it's treason.

Posted by: whizbang9a | May 14, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Once you get your head out of the bubble, so to speak, Cheney looks like a stinking nut.

And it's my impression those in the White House aren't really aware of this, and god knows this aspect of the Pentagon, advising them, is DOA DUMB, always was DOA DUMB.

And that's too bad for Obama, because I do think he's more intelligent than Bush.

But he will lose, because the Petangon advising him can't win. This is a "war plan" sprung from CYA, and it's rather obvious, and easy to game, the stupid kooks just don't get it.

And when it fails, which it will, because they are doing nothing different here AT ALL, they will blame him.

For Afghanistan, for the economy -- just like Bush. Obama is following the same advice, what does he expect to be different here?

Too bad.

Give it about 6 months.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | May 14, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I agree.

Release the photos, you're fighting a terrorist war in uncharted territory, Obama HAS to make himself known as different from his predecessor he HAS to gain the trust of the people, here, and in Afghanistan.

How he intends to this by embracing Cheney's nuttiness is beyond me.

There is no guarantee here, they're looking for a business formula, those scared, s stupid mediocre Brennan and Jones types of the Pentagon, and it doesn't exist, you have to lead.

But give the people are real reason to trust you, like they did our fathers and grandfathers.

Rumsfeld, and his ilk are too stinking stupid to get it, Obama isn't.

I hope he has the courage to do the right thing.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | May 14, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Sign the petition to Attorney General Holder: http://tinyurl.com/rafum8

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 14, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Who really expected more from President "Pragmatic?"

Posted by: tina5 | May 14, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I think that releasing the photos will shut Cheney up.

Posted by: johannesrolf | May 14, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

There is somthing more than the speech in egypt, behind mr.o's change of heart about the release of the photos. There might be somthing more important than the safty of our troops and our citicens, like his islamic agenda. He can't come right out to the rest of the nation of islam with out blowing his cover.

Posted by: sinnersunited | May 14, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I am just amazed that all those who voted for President Obama are so off of the issue that they believed Obama was not going to change his mind once he had access to all the reports that are only for the President's eyes.

Many Americans just don't understand what terrorism is about. They don't even understand that the bad image the country has abroad doesn't come just from the Bush Administration but from previos Administrations' foreign policies, democrats and republicans alike. Americans thought they were loved all over the world. They just realized they weren't when 9/11 happened. There are many reasons why America is not liked and why terrorists use that to advance their cause. President Bush is not one of them.

I think President Obama, for once, is doing the right thing regarding terrorism. I hope he keeps on defending the values of freedom and democracy and not those of the terrorists.

Posted by: cristina1999us | May 14, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

For a president with much of evidence of being in possession of considerable foresight, Barack Obama seems to follow his nose far too often.

He'd taken the decision, initially, to release the photo evidence at his disposal, then changed his mind, with equal force.

Perhaps it's early onset of brain bloat or mental overload, but whatever may be the personal issue, it's not helping the country one bit, at the moment.

Posted by: nevereven | May 14, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Let's get to the point. NONE OF YOU care about the so called poor terrorist who was tortured. You simple want to see the photos. Well guess what. No one cares what you want, have you not figured that out yet. Second of all, there will NEVER be A SINGLE TRIAL so get over it. No one but the Lib POS in the US care. The rest of the world still operates using common sense and realize the one's you try so vehemently to support are the one's KILLING IONNOCENT PEOPLE. If there we're to be trials they would NOT BE HELD IN THE US you simpletons they would be held in The Hague and you're messiah would end up on trial as well. The stupidity of the average American in the US is quite scary.

On a side not I read an article regarding the new General assuming command in Iraq. He has submitted a new battle plan to Obama. It’s named operation Liberty Shield. But wait, it gets better. It’s called Liberty shield because their going to pair up each solider with a Lib. And use them as human shields. It has 2 purposes. 1. It saves soldiers lives and 2. It makes America a better, stronger place removing the sissies from the country. Look for your assignment papers to arrive VIA the US Postal Service this week. LOL


Right now there’s a hand full of nit wits on Google looking to see if it’s true. PATHETIC. LOL

Posted by: askgees | May 14, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"...I think President Obama, for once, is doing the right thing regarding terrorism. I hope he keeps on defending the values of freedom and democracy and not those of the terrorists."

Posted by: cristina1999us
********************************************************************
The "values of freedom and democracy" DO NOT, and NEVER WILL include the use of torture.

Posted by: lgaide | May 14, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Obama is eager to join his big heroes -Cheney & Bush - on the torture & cover-up bandwagon. I guess he thinks it makes him seem more "politically mature", but in this country "politically mature" means "absolutely corrupt". His lies and daily betrayals do indeed make him look absolutely corrupt.

The United States was in deperate need of leadership last election, and we thought we had managed to achieve that. What a total slap in the face to realize that our great "leader" is ready at a moment's notice to abandon his constituents in order to join up with the war-mongers, torturers, and Constitution shredders. Evidently, the pay is better. Truth and Justice don't matter to him, only the great Obama's personal wealth and political power are worthy of consideration.

See? It doesn't matter who we vote for, because we STILL only get crooks, liars, and would-be dictators.

Posted by: mgloraine | May 14, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Let's get to the point. NONE OF YOU care about the so called poor terrorist who was tortured. You simple want to see the photos.
--------
Lets get another straight: With all due respect, I think people who think like you are MORONS.

We're losing -- why?

You can't BEGIN to understand concepts. It's so far over your head as to be laughable.

What IS asymmetric war?

And you can't answer that question. .

You think people can't tell?

Do you think the US is so unsophisticated it's no smarter than Dick Cheney, and you?

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | May 14, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

A few things to remember.

(1) John Yoo wrote that it would be legal to crush a child's testicles in front of his father to get the father to talk

(2) KSM's 7- and 9-year-old sons were captured before he was, and are now nowhere to be found

(3) Seymour Hersch wrote that there have been case of children being tortured by US agents, and even children being sodomized

I think the photos would destroy the US' reputation beyond reclamation.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 14, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

President Obama, I understand you want to look to the future. You are worried about getting bogged down in the partisan battle that will necessarily come with investigating the crimes of the last administration. But we have violated domestic law, international law and basic human dignity in the most extreme ways.

This will not go away, it will not be swept under the rug. If you do not deal with it, and soon, it will undermine your domestic agenda. We will not forget, we will not stop demanding answers, we will not stop demanding transparency. From illegal wiretapping to torture to the writ of habeus corpus we will continue to demand a return to the rule of law and a restoration of checks and balances on executive power. The longer you ignore this in order to "leave the past behind," the more you will find that leaving this sore to fester is your biggest impediment to moving forward.

Sincerely,
A Grunt From Your Campaign Army

Posted by: siniod | May 14, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"On a side not I read an article regarding the new General assuming command in Iraq. He has submitted a new battle plan to Obama. It’s named operation Liberty Shield. But wait, it gets better. It’s called Liberty shield because their going to pair up each solider with a Lib. And use them as human shields. It has 2 purposes. 1. It saves soldiers lives and 2. It makes America a better, stronger place removing the sissies from the country. Look for your assignment papers to arrive VIA the US Postal Service this week. LOL"

==

OK, whoever let the moron in is responsible for catching it and putting it back outside

Posted by: chrisfox8 | May 14, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse


The Bush Administration broke the law and has left a legacy of temporarily lawless criminal savagery.

The Obama Administration is ignoring the law and will leave a legacy of the permanent abolition of the rule of law.

Obama may behave more civilized than our Republican thugs, but Obama is doing far more damage to our democracy.

The sad reality is that Obama is joining the "bad guys."


Posted by: FoolontheHill1 | May 14, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

To Mr. Obama,
I am greatly disturbed by your recent decision to attempt to withhold photographs documenting numerous abuses perpetrated against alleged terrorist suspects. This complete reversal from the principle of transparency in government has filled me with immense despair. My sincere hope was that your administration would be characterized by a return to the rule of law and an appropriate respect for checks and balances. Instead, the Executive Branch is attempting to assert some sort of paternal privilege to decide what the American people can and cannot know. Our government should not be engaged in behavior that it believes the people should not know about, i.e. torture, killing of civilians in Afghanistan, etc. This is the essence of a tyrannical regime. The government could in essence do anything inimical to freedom and democracy and could simply assert the privilege of secrecy. This would destroy the very basis of the American system of government.
The central irony with this entire affair, is that George W. Bush utilized the rhetoric of spreading American democracy to describe his efforts following 9-11. What we have accomplished since is the destruction of our democracy. Our political leaders are not being held accountable and our government is operating under a veil of secrecy. Do not desecrate what many of us hold so dearly. Do not rob our nation of the ideals that move us to become a city on a hill. Do not utilize completely inane utilitarian arguments to advocate for more government secrecy.
Make the right decision and restore honor and integrity to our society. Our honor is crucial to our standing in the world and to the esteem we hold for our country.

Posted by: CypressTree | May 14, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I think the photos would destroy the US' reputation beyond reclamation.

* * * * * *

@Chrisfox8: It never occurred to me that they could be that bad. That's terrifying. I don't know the chronology here, though. Wouldn't Pres Obama have seen the photos before he agreed to their release? If they ARE that bad, why wouldn't he have stopped them then?

Posted by: ccwinslow | May 14, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Obama won't get away with this. He settled with ACLU. They have a contract to release these photos. What he is accomplishing is the destruction of his presidency. I am seriously looking for a new Dem candidate to vote for in 2012. This man has been a huge dissappointment.

Posted by: davidbn27 | May 14, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I like many others was alarmed by Obama breaking his promise to the ALCU in order to appeal the 2nd Circuit decision. This is bordering on a blatant attempt by Obama to obstruct Justice of war crimes. I have been following many cases similar to this one where Obama has been upholding Bush abuses of states secrets arguments to dismiss cases or prevent the release of documents and we know they are appealing the decision made on the rights of some prisoners being held at Bagram. As for torture, this isn't the first time Obama has sided with the torture appeasers nor should we expect it to be the last.

That said I think it would be best to reject all attempts to try and explain this behavior away because all explanations and excuses are lame at best. As with all of these other cases where he defended bad Bush positions, if Obama wasn't ready to proceed on these cases he could have requested a continuance. So even if he didn't want these photos coming out before his trip to Egypt, you don't think he if asked the ACLU to give him more time they wouldn't have done so? I hope they would know better than to trust Obama now.

If anything everyone should take his explanations as an insult to your intelligence. It is Obama who should be embarrassed by his actions and not any of us or our enemies by the release of these photos.

RJ Crane, topplebush.com

Posted by: rjcrane42 | May 14, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

This now-you'll-see-them-now-you-won't scenario would be funny if it didn't involve classified data. Is Axelrod on vacation? He managed the messages during the campaign so well; perhaps governing isn't among Axelrod's talents. And of course, Obama has no governing, much less management, experience. So the presidential sitcom continues. . . .

Posted by: judithod | May 14, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

"People, you've been sold a pup by the American Tony Blair... We were told to Hope (tm), but instead we've got a neo-interventionist Imperial presidency just as nasty as Bush's, but with a smiley-face mask." -- Steve Hynd, Newhoggers.com

Given that the current "masterminds" of the bank bailout are some of the very people who created the current economic disaster in the first place (Geithner, Summers, et al.), the same words, with only very minor modifications as to subject, could be used to describe the administration's approach to the world-wide economic collapse.

"Change we can believe in" appears to consist of no more than a shiny new coat of paint and a different slogan. The rotting core has not even been examined, much less "changed".

Before anyone makes assumptions about my political leanings, let me point out that I was (and am) virulently anti-Bush/Cheney, supported Obama and voted for him. Silly me, I guess -- except any of the available alternatives would have been no better, and probably much worse.

It's time to scrap our current political and economic schemes (I use that word purposefully) and start all over from scratch. There will be no meaninful change from any of the current players.

Posted by: wavydavy69 | May 14, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Do I think he should release the photos? Yes.

Do I think it would be good for him to do so?

No!

It's a distraction he doesn't need.

Will these photos come out anyway?

You betcha.

Posted by: ORNOT | May 14, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Pathetic.

Obama is truly pathetic because he is caving in to the Right and neglecting the Left.

This approach is truly arrogant and demeaning to those who voted for him last November. Obama knows the Left will never go against him because what is the alternative? So, Obama continues to try and placate the Right by reversing himself on the myriad abuse of the Constitution committed by the Bush Regime:

1) Torture: despite being obligated by international treaties to which our Government ratified, Obama has not instructed his Administration to conduct a formal investigation. Further, Obama is now defying a court order to release photographs depicting torture.

2) Extraordinary Rendition: despite his lofty rhetoric, Obama refuses to end the practice of kidnapping innocent people and shuttling them away to secret prisons around the world.

3) Denying Habeas Corpus: Obama's DOJ has filed briefs arguing that detainees in Afghanistan have no habeas corpus rights. As a former Constitutional law professor, many must be surprised at this move from Obama.

4) Warrantless wiretapping: Obama's DOJ has stooped so low as to use the same un-Constitutional "state secrets privilege" to attempt to have lawsuit dismissed that deal with our Government spying on U.S. citizens without warrants.

5) GITMO: despite the Executive Orders, Obama is now tossing around the distasteful ideas of resurrecting the oft Supreme Court defeated notions of Military Tribunals and indefinite detentions.

Turning to other areas of Obama's lawlessness: his interference with the contracts of Chrysler debtors (see Geo Will); threatening CA with denial of stimulus funds; complete lack of transparency about who is receiving bailout funds; letting the Federal Reserve essentially print money and lend it out by the TRILLIONS without a shred of oversight; etc.

However, despite all this abhorrent behavior, there will no doubt by those on the Left who cannot see this vicious slap in the face. They will continue to believe in Obama even as he kow tows to the Right and continues to cover up the crimes of the Bush Regime -- and adding his own crimes to the running tally of those in Washington.

Posted by: winoohno | May 14, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for holding Obushma's feet to the fire, Dan.

The only thing more disgusting than Obama turning into Bush is the spectable of so many Obama worshippers providing lame excuses for him doing it!

Posted by: solsticebelle | May 14, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Nicely done, Dan.

Obama's public reasons don't stand up to scrutiny.

Perhaps his private reasons might be more convincing. But what happened to transparency?

I am disappointed.

Posted by: jpk1 | May 14, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

One interesting point Dan makes is the extent to which torture-derived "information" underpinned the conclusions of the 9/11 report.

If we reasonably conclude that this "information" is worthless, how much of the report's conclusions still stand up to scrutiny? In particular, how much of a direct role did al Queida's and the Taliban's leadership really play in planning the attack? Perhaps not much at all. This would mean that, a year before manufactured evidence was used to justify an Iraq invasion, the White House discovered to its horror that the case for its first invasion, Afghanistan, was very weak.

This frenzy to torture the few suspects we had in custody in 2002 may have been a desperate attempt to find any information showing that the 9/11 plot was more than the work of a small group, working with no direct outside leadership.

Posted by: lguy1 | May 14, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

The only thing I disagree with is the order. I vote for the "protect the troops" excuse as the most flawed.

Posted by: wstander | May 14, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Dan, you and Glenn could be right. But if so, why did Obama release all those memos in the first place?

We might consider that Obama is playing chess not checkers and that those photos will come out anyway, less directly.

In the meantime Congress is continuing investigations as is the DOJ, as they should, and as was made MORE likely, not less, by the release of the memos.

Posted by: planedon04 | May 14, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

DAN I'M CONFUSED.

For years Pro Bush commentators here have called you a Bush hater and an apologist for democrats.

If you keep being honest and critical of democrats and republicans alike they will lose whats left of their minds.

keep up the good work.

FROOMKIN FOR EDITOR!

Posted by: feckless | May 14, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Lately Obama has not only reversed his position on Bush-era Interrogation policies, photos and torture but many others following the critics of Cheney, Rush Limbo and hard core Republicans and Zionists goons. 100 days ago, Obama was humane, truthful, compassionate and above all just and fair but now he looks like, talk like and act like another Bush.
As far as Muslims are concerned, he has fooled them like Bush and they are waiting for another round of Muslim bashing and killings, not in Iraq but in Afghanistan and Iran too. He has no soft or humane heart or if he has, he has no guts to stand up for the truth and justice.
If he wants to keep his words, he must (i) release all photos, reports and names of all culprits who have acted wrongly without any fear or shame and ask the justice dept. to take criminal action as per the laws or he has no guts to do that, at least set-up a commission to investigate Bush-Cheney and his goons for wrong doings in the 8-years. If he cannot do that than apologize to the Americans and Muslims around the Globe and tell them that his Nation has done many wrongs for many years and pay for their sufferings like Holocaust victims are getting. Or if he thinks it is too much, than keep his mouth shut and follow the orders of his Masters and do not think that by his sweet talks any Muslim will be convinced. Muslims have been suffering for the last several decades of America's double standards and they will continue to do so for much longer period waiting for the judgment from the Almighty.

Posted by: citysoilverizonnet | May 14, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I was so worry that you would release those photos and you changed your decision. Wow, was I relieved. This is not a sign of weakness to me. Also, you did not fall for Cheney’s trap. . If you released the photos he would had said “see, you are making our country less safe by releasing these photos”. Moreover, you did not cave in to the liberal left who are sometimes like a mob who care noting but to get justice and punish Bush and Co. at the expense of the troops. Never mind the fact that you are going over to Egypt soon. Who needs this at this time? No, you were pragmatic and instead of worrying about the public opinion of your so called base, you listen to yourself and the generals like you said you would. (Remember Folks)

You’ve seen one photo you’ve seen them all. What good would this do being broadcast by the cable news media Jackals over and over again 24 hours a day for rating purposes?

No, you saw that trap and swiftly did a pivot and reversed this decision. That was a brilliant move.

I can imagine how disappointed Cheney must be. He’s running scare. How will he prove that his waterboarding was justified and take the heat off of himself?

Oh, they will call you a flip flopper like they did to Kerry, but who cares?

So Cheney will try something else, so be careful! Now that he has joined forces with Limbaugh, you must really be vigilant.

P.S. I loved your speech at Arizona State last night. The way you handled the diploma matter was great.

So this is my thought. I don’t need to waste any more time reading the other opinions. I got work to do.

President Obama,

You rock !!!

Remember
Enhanced Interrogation techniques

Is like

Rape is an enhanced seduction technique.

Posted by: sherardg | May 14, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

The photos were released in large part in response to an ACLU lawsuit demanding their release. Cannot that lawsuit be prosecuted further, now that Obama has reneged on the settlement?

Posted by: thrh | May 14, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh by the way. The photos probably will be seen and used as evidence in a trial. I want justice too. I just don't want to see these photos thrown out over the air waives, on the internet and around the world. It does no good. Don't worry. You will get your justice. Just not in the form of a lynch mob. Really, chill out. Be cool like our President.

Posted by: sherardg | May 14, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

But what about the ones of us that actually want to see transparency and upholding the rule of law? I am fuming! Unfortunately I must agree with a friend of mine that said that any president is not different from any other president. If somebody would have told on inaguration day that I would have been so cynic just less than 4 months later I would have never believed him.

Posted by: icefranco1 | May 14, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

If this decision stands, even after his trip, and health care is changed, then this clearly shows that President Obama is a POLITICIAN.

Many expected him to be more, to do the right thing and reverse the calamities of the Bush years. But this is only the latest front in protecting the bushies. He doesn't want to upset the bureaucrats...he has big plans that can't wait...he's looking forward...he knows more than we do now, so "trust" his decision....take your pick....whatever.

Sorry folks, we wanted so much but we elected a politician. He may be better than the last, but he's a mere mortal. A politician who acts in is own self interest and puts his pants on one leg at a time. He may want to be one of us, but he's one of them now. Keep his feet to the fire and don't give up on pressuring him to do right by us.

The sorriest part is, he doesn't want to suck the air out of the capital looking backward, but as these releases continue, the air is getting thinner everyday by a thousand cuts.

Posted by: walterzz | May 14, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

The Sidney Morning Herald in Australia published 15 additional Abu Ghraib.
The Australian equivalent of our Dateline is scheduled to do a show on the additional photographs and will broadcast 60 additional photos of abuse.

The Photos America Doesn't Want Seen
http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/photos-us-doesnt-want-seen/2006/02/14/1139890737099.html

Click on bottom left hand corner of article for More Snaps of Abu Ghraib- Related coverage for slideview photo gallery

The world will see these additional photos tonight on TV in Australia.

Obama reversed himself and went against the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals for no good reason and gained nothing. Nothing!

Posted by: Gracefulboomer | May 14, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Terrorism is not based on hatred for America. That's a rationalization, not a root cause. It's actually based on a little something called the Koran. The excuse has varied over the centuries (the Crusades, Spain, America) but the origin is a religious text. And don't take my word for it; reformed Islamists admit as much:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=465570&in_page_id=1770

For some reason, liberals love to imagine this mystical scorecard where as long as America "does good" and keeps in the win column all the world will love us and everything will be perfect. In actuality, many of our enemies hate us simply for existing, and love to use that naivete against us. Releasing pictures of U.S. troops "abusing" captured terrorists by not feeding them bon bons on request is just going to be a propaganda coup for our enemies and you all know it. You'd rather feel good about yourselves than actually deal with the threat and its consequences. Thankfully Obama, despite his MANY other faults, is starting to realize that as Commander in Chief he is dealing with serious threats that cannot be done away with by hugs and drum circles. It's called responsibility, and if more liberals took it this country might not be in such dire straits.

Posted by: zippyspeed | May 14, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

People want the image that United States is good and not rotten just like the people in Nazi Germany believed in their good country. Why release picturers that could change that image? Besides we didn't lose any war.

I am not sure you want to see that we have little rats and big rats that make up our society in a rat race. Our motto is: "Greed is good" may help us look at ourselfs for what we are. Understand that the people of Nazi Germany were just good people, but maybe not too good.

Posted by: artg | May 14, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Disgusting. I'll keep writing my senator and the WH about this. If Obama keeps covering up for torturers he's no better than Nixon.

Posted by: marcedward1 | May 14, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Meet the new boss.

Same as the old boss.

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | May 14, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

A coverup always comes out unraveled at some point. Political manipulation of facts leads to what Al Gore might call, An Inconvenient Truth. In my OP, Americans are owed the truth, a coverup makes us all look quilty by association -- complicit in high crimes and misdemeanors, if you will.

Posted by: rmorris391 | May 14, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Does one improve America's image by hiding America's reality or by improving America's reality.

Posted by: LHO39 | May 14, 2009 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Why is the press letting Cheney flaunt them, the people of the U.S. and the U.S. Government? He has, in public, admitted acts that violate U.S. and International laws prohibiting torture and inhuman treatment of people. He is essentially shoving it down the throat of the DOJ. Also, why is the press not identifying the contractor(s) who actually carried out torture for the CIA? Are they immune from prosecution for violating human rights?

Posted by: PaulofAnnapolis | May 14, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

Why is the press letting Cheney flaunt them, the people of the U.S. and the U.S. Government? He has, in public, admitted acts that violate U.S. and International laws prohibiting torture and inhuman treatment of people. He is essentially shoving it down the throat of the DOJ. Also, why is the press not identifying the contractor(s) who actually carried out torture for the CIA? Are they immune from prosecution for violating human rights?

Posted by: PaulofAnnapolis | May 14, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

For those of us who want to expose the Bush era wrong-doing, and prevent future unconstitutional actions the best possible outcome would be to take every case to court, let the Bush era arguments be made and be smacked down by a judge. Obama is setting us up for definitive rulings on lots of issues that the Bush people worked strenuously to keep out of the courts. We'll be seeing those pictures eventually.

Posted by: awmarch1 | May 14, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Politics is politics, but torture is an issue which trumps all politics. Regardless of any potential chess game Obama may or may not be playing here, his words and actions are sending a clear message to Americans and to the world -- that torture and illegal detention are now tools in the United States' arsenal, and that these tools will be brought out again any time we feel threatened. Every time Obama blinks, the corrupt alliance of war criminals and apologists for torture becomes more emboldened. Torture apologists already own the editorial page of the Washington Post, aside from a few brave holdouts such as our own Mr. Froomkin.

By his complicity in covering up our nation's disgraceful recent history of torture, President Obama is compromising his own moral foundation. If he violates the most important promise he made to voters -- that he would restore our standing as a nation of laws and moral authority -- this once-proud Obama supporter will NEVER forget...

Posted by: jerkhoff | May 14, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Dan - I'm very grateful that you put this in print. Many thanks!!!!!

Posted by: mdsinc | May 14, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I buy the "it's gonna come out anyway, and now Obama can say he tried to keep it under wraps when the GOP tries to paint him as soft on terrorism" excuse.

Naive? Maybe, but I'm having a rough week.... =^(

Posted by: mobedda | May 14, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

To say the least, this decision is profoundly disappointing, and President Obama's feet should be held to the fire. At the same time, I have a lot of respect for the man, and cannot but help suspecting that he is playing the long game, as usual. Not releasing the photos now, in the midst of two wars with crucial legislative battles on other fronts looming, is not the same as keeping the lid on them forever.

Could the President be playing the left -- using us to keep the heat on while appearing moderate, then finally "giving in" to FOIA requests and the like? I don't have to like it for it to be good politics.

Posted by: pythonS | May 14, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Dear America:

Do I think the "Chicago Community Organizer", Speaker of the House, Pelosi, and the entire Democratic Bunch are going to lie through their teeth, time and again? You bet! That's their nature... If you don't believe in their 100 year old MO, keep listening and watching them!

Socialists' "road map" specifies that its members must say and do, anything that honorable, moral, and decent folks may want to hear, to help them reach their wicked socialist goals i.e. power grabing, control of sociaty, its financial and corporate institutions.

Remember Democrats in Congress have no boundries, laying the groundwork to be in power till the end of times...

Sadly, the American Nation does not know what they have gotten into by electing "Mr Candy Man".

Posted by: vtr123 | May 14, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

If the photos are necessary to prosecute a crime, fine. If they are just more evidence of what we already know, and represent actions that Obama has already ordered stopped, what is the value? We have adequate evidence connection torture to the highest levels of the Bush administration, another photo of torture by a low-level service member they never heard of won't add anything.

There was a different set of imperatives when we had an administration that ordered torture and covered it up or denied it was torture. Obama took care of that on his 2nd day in office.

Is it bad that Obama is taking into consideration the effects on his international diplomacy and the campaigns in the Middle East? I think not. Let him make his case and let the judge have his say. It's the American way to do things - by law.

Posted by: j2hess | May 14, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

what a bunch of cry babies. this is war for god sake. been going on for thousands of yrs. just surrender and get it over with.

Posted by: um1967 | May 14, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

law in the US? Amrican way? you have to be kidding me.

Posted by: um1967 | May 14, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Froomkin makes a number of excellent points. And yet, the Jacobin zeal to right all wrongs before the sun sets may have a downside.

No doubt, the photographs in question will be seen one day. Hopefully it will be a day when they can be put in the perspective of a terrible mistake we made and then corrected. Hopefully, Mr.Obama is heavily engaged in the process of correcting that mistake.

Stirring up a few more domestic and international hornet nests, just to contradict a braying nincompoop like Dick Cheney, seems like a waste of our resources.

Posted by: i_go_pogo | May 14, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I just want to thank you Dan for calling Obama out. Many, MANY right-wingers lamented that with a Democratic President, you wouldn't say a word when Obama does something wrong. You've just proven them wrong and you kept your word. You said that you'd hold Obama responsible when he does something wrong and you've done just that.

My hats off to you.

Posted by: ClandestineBlaze | May 14, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Best thing that can be said for Obama is that he wants the courts to do his clean work (what the dirty would call his dirty work) for him - so that he can keep working to chip off the next least exceptionalist and irrational bloc of GOP supporters.

(these photos are, after all, the subject of court orders to be produced, stayed only by pending government appeals against those court orders which should, and probably will, fail)

If this is the strategy, Obama's political judgment is a chilling indictment of middle America and the US media. If it is not the case, then it's even more chilling.

Posted by: AlanDownunder | May 14, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

"Terrorism is not based on hatred for America. That's a rationalization, not a root cause. It's actually based on a little something called the Koran. The excuse has varied over the centuries (the Crusades, Spain, America) but the origin is a religious text. And don't take my word for it; reformed Islamists admit as much:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=465570&in_page_id=1770

For some reason, liberals love to imagine this mystical scorecard where as long as America "does good" and keeps in the win column all the world will love us and everything will be perfect. In actuality, many of our enemies hate us simply for existing, and love to use that naivete against us. Releasing pictures of U.S. troops "abusing" captured terrorists by not feeding them bon bons on request is just going to be a propaganda coup for our enemies and you all know it. You'd rather feel good about yourselves than actually deal with the threat and its consequences. Thankfully Obama, despite his MANY other faults, is starting to realize that as Commander in Chief he is dealing with serious threats that cannot be done away with by hugs and drum circles. It's called responsibility, and if more liberals took it this country might not be in such dire straits.

Posted by: zippyspeed | May 14, 2009 4:43 PM"
=============================

Yes zippyspeed, the threat is Islam. Oh noes! Gasp, there are Muslims living in the U.S., they might kill us all one day. You're pathetic and your rabid, irrational anti-Muslim hatred is showing.

None of these problems in the Middle East ever occurred until we started propping up dictatorships across the continent. The truth is, the MAJORITY of Muslims are moderate, just like how the majority of Christians, Catholics, and Jews are moderate. They're angry with us only because we're supporting oppressive governments that have continuously imprisoned or killed many of their own citizens.

This has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with U.S. foreign policy in the region for the last 100 years. Please, for your own sake, get your head out of the sand. If the whole issue between the Middle East and Western Civilization was as silly as religious disputes, a religious war would have broken out a long time ago. It's not like the U.S. suddenly appeared on the map 60 years ago.

From supporting ruthless dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, to overthrowing a Prime Minister in Iran to bring in the Shah and his SAVAK, to giving Saddam Hussein the ammo he needed to kill off Kurds, to supporting the Pakistani Military Coupe, we've got a pretty rotten track record. And you wonder why people are angry with us?

Posted by: ClandestineBlaze | May 14, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I am becoming rapidly disillusioned with President Obama. His change is becoming no change at all. The same crooks are still ripping off the US taxpayers, the same operators are still granting favors to their cronies in the corporate boardrooms, the same wealthy elite is still running the country.

I was not happy with any of the Democratic candidates before the election, and was even less happy when Obama won the nomination, mainly because of his lack of experience. I voted for him because the Republican party was and is totally bereft of ideas or compassion for the citizens of this great country, and only interested in retaining power for itself and its corporate sponsors. Now I think that despite all of Obama's best intentions, our corrupt, good for nothing political system will end up overwhelming him and destroying his Presidency. The Republicans will regain the Presidency in 2012, and will turn the government into a right-wing dictatorship by 2014. Watch it happen. It won't take much. The two party system doesn't work anymore, the government has been seized by an oligarchy that wins no matter who loses. If we don't adopt a multiparty parlimentary system we are doomed to civil war and the fragmenting of the union that Lincoln and our forefathers fought so hard to preserve.

Posted by: Chagasman | May 14, 2009 10:05 PM | Report abuse

What this shows is that the war mongers, the neo-con loonies, the whole ugly crowd of Muslim-haters still have enormous sway in the White House and other key agencies--on the fatuous argument that the release would endanger the troops, they protect themselves from a rising tide of demands for an investigation of torture that will envelope many of them.

Posted by: gsroselaw | May 14, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

It will be interesting to see, after the court forces the executive to give up the pictures, whether Faux News, MSNBC, CNBC, and CBS show any of the pictures. I can imagine two scenarios, especially for Faux News. In one scenario they show dozens of the pictures hour after hour along with scathing commentary about how terrible it was for President Obama to release them. In the other scenario, they show hundreds of the pictures hour after hour (after all, their viewers *love* stuff like that) along with commentary that this is what was necessary to protect America. A possible alternative is that they don't show any of the pictures (even though their viewers *love* looking at stuff like that) but spend hour after hour excoriating President Obama for doing something to make America less safe, without actually showing what it was he did. NOTE: The only thing Faux News viewers love more than explicit pictures of violence are pictures of half naked pretty girls whom they can denounce for their loose morals.

Posted by: Acharn | May 14, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

A typically lame Froomkin column that plays to the very few dozen of his dopey followers.
When does the Wapo can this lame writer?
America executes its own prisoners, and sucks the brains out of its babies.
Yelling at a terrorist....the horror!

Posted by: merley1 | May 14, 2009 10:45 PM | Report abuse

At first I understood Obama's logic for not releasing the photos and thought it was an acceptable reason as apparently requested by the military (which officers anyway). That just shows how damaging the torture practices were to our military since it was used as a recruitment tool by al-queda. So who was responsible for directing the military, CIA, and FBI to use them as well as private contractors (unknown black operators you might say). Well so who are the directors of each agency? And who was responsible for disseminating the information. Could it be if we just went back to the proper dates and times that it was no secret who was given responsibility to disseminate this information (from the Defense Department). Now we also learn that some if not all of the chain of command can be traced back to Cheney's office.

Posted by: repudar711 | May 14, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse

I never heard Congress approve the use of private contractors to torture people and send them out to bases and secret prisons.

Posted by: repudar711 | May 14, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

The most disturbing aspect of the continued fallout from the "Torture Years" is the inability or unwillingness of both the Obama crowd and many of his supporters (some on the so-called "left", it must be said) to actively confront the issue by getting out in front of this massive snowball careering downhill fast and demand truth and accountability for all the sins of the "dark side", whose massive transgressions are now fervently being defended by Dick Cheney et al. We hear that "this has already been investigated", and that "people have been punished", and "we're looking forward, not backward"...yadda-yadda-blah-blah. But the worst arguments made - principally by Obama apologists - is that full-blown investigations and/or prosecutions would "divide the country" and become a "major distraction for Obama's 'game-changing' domestic agenda"...and like that. Well, for God's sake, what do those people call the huge and extensive expansion of the war in Afpak???? If there is ANYTHING that has the potential to utterly disrupt Obama's 1st-term priorities at home it is the ruinous escalation of military action both in Afghanistan and in the tribal-administered districts of Pakistan. Nearly a quarter-million people have been displaced throughout the Swat Valley as a consequence of the US-promoted Pakistani "offensive against the Taliban", US cruise missiles are raining down all along the Afghan-Pakistan border, and tens of thousands of US military are about to be employed round Helmand and Kandahar provinces, and probably further south into Baluchistan (with the tacit "approval" of the Pakistan government). Compared to what "damage" further revelations of torture would reveal, the wars in Iraq and Afpak are collectively heading the US toward a real national disaster, for which Obama and his generals simply haven't as yet got a cogent strategy, "winning" or otherwise.

Posted by: Gregor_Samsa | May 15, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Is the WAPO going to release the hundreds of photos they have which have never been published???

It would seem to bear directly on this controversy. Should the WAPO solicit for Iraq vets to send them any previously unpublished photos of detainee abuse???

Posted by: ncaofnw | May 15, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

The point's been raised here and elsewhere: it's very possible that this is a calculated move by Obama, who knows that the photos either will or have already leaked. So he can gain some measure of approbation from the military and the right, while the photos come out anyway. In other words, he's crazy like a fox.

I don't object to that, actually. After all, the Presidency is not merely an administrative position. It's also a political position.

Posted by: whizbang9a | May 15, 2009 12:31 AM | Report abuse

zippyspeed. Read the Koran before you go spouting someone else's summaries about it. The Bible has plenty of violent and imperialistic quotes in it too (Apocalypse is nothing but a calculated attempt to terrify its readers). The Koran does indeed talk about righteous war but it also talks about many other things of a more peaceful sort.

And I'm no Muslim. I simply try to understand other people who live alongside me on the planet.

Posted by: whizbang9a | May 15, 2009 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Obama is a coward!

A true leader does what is right regardless. We are no longer a Republic but an empire. With the continuation of Bush's policies, Obama is strangling our nation.

The rule of law must be followed or what's the point of us being called a Republic? He should just drop the pretense and assume his position for his new masters.

I wish I could say I am shocked at the speed of his total capitulation to the Washington establishment, but after his FISA vote last year, he intimated what kind of President he would be. And in case you don't know, it's not one who would stand up for the civil liberties and the rule.

So, I'm of to donate $1000 to the ACLU, as the fight must at least be continued to waged.

Posted by: danielburns | May 15, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

A decent analysis, at least the parts of it that are yours. You break down the explanation into six parts, and proceed to knock them down one by one. so far so good. but when it comes to the only one that matters legally -- the question of whether release of the photo will cause a reasonable expectation of danger to any individual -- you turn the proceedings entirely over to Glenn Greenwald. Well, THAT'S WHERE I CAME HERE FROM! I'd love to hear what you might have to say on that question, but apparently it is not forthcoming.

You should write your own columns, not let others take the wheel for such long stretches.

Posted by: michaeljamesdrew | May 15, 2009 4:23 AM | Report abuse

Obama’s arguments defending the continued suppression of evidence of the systematic abuse of those in the custody and control of the US government, is absurd on it’s face. The courts have already ruled against the exact same arguments. If Obama is trying to placate the GOP in hopes of garnering support from them and center-right independents, it seems to me that he’s losing more support than he hopes to gain. If he’s doing this in an effort to protect our troops and quell anti-American sentiment, I’m afraid that train left the station some time ago. It would be much more logical to release the photos, and reemphasize the fact that the policies of the previous administration are no longer the policy of the US government. Secrecy only fosters suspicion, and strengthens the arguments of those we want defeat in their efforts to win the battle of public opinion and increased recruitment. I really don’t understand his reasoning. I don’t know if he’s playing politics or being played by the political and military establishment. I sincerely hope he not, ala Michael Steele, moving the pieces around the board in some Machiavellian game of political chess.

Mr. President, you lost me. First you bail-out the banks with little to no accountability while holding the auto industry to an entirely different standard. You caved to the Republicans on the stimulus package. Now this. Next I suppose the Health Care Program, and Energy Bill will have to wait because of the existential threat to your re-election. Well, you lost me Mr. President, you lost me.

Posted by: seriouslookingdude | May 15, 2009 5:11 AM | Report abuse

I feel completely and utterly betrayed by President Obama. I knew he would not be what I hoped for when he voted for the telecom immunity bill after promising to oppose it. I had hoped he would undo the imperial presidency but instead he appears to have embraced it.

What's the old saying about power and corruption?

Posted by: datdamwuf2 | May 15, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

the root cause of Obama's reversals I believe stems from his choice to not prosecute any and all involved in and surrounding torture and civil liberties violations. As this slippery slope reveals, obama can't be transparent about Judicial reform, and his various illogical choices since inauguration day are symptomatic of this choice.

Obama wants to move his agenda items forward, and wrongly feels that he can ignore the gravity of this issue on America's conscience. He can't and it will come back to haunt him... certainly by the next election. I for one hold him in measurably lower respect as his efforts at pragmatism under cut his inspirational philosophy. He's a bright guy, he has no excuse.

Posted by: bnr1 | May 15, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

It only took George Bush about a year and a half to flop. And the only thing that saved him was 911. Then stupidity took over.

Posted by: kimkimminni1 | May 16, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

It makes sense for Obama to keep the pictures hidden for the time being. Especially for the fact that there are a lot of Muslims looking for answers and recognition. Until he gives his speech in Egypt when he address's a large population of Muslims and informs them of our intentions and informs them that the crime of torture and the slaughter of Iraq were do to poor leadership and stupidity. And inform them that that crap will no longer be tolerable. And also inform them of the pictures that are going to surface and explain their intent and the disagreement that they will cause.

Posted by: kimkimminni1 | May 17, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

With greatest respect to all,
I am an American!! I served my country with pride.
I didn't agree with everything President Bush (the first) said or did while I was in the service, but I felt he was honorable as a politician could be - felt honor in my country, and yes trite as it sounds, I was proud of my flag.
When the Gulf War broke out, I was already out of the service, but many of my friends deployed. We often wrote back and forth, and a common theme they had was that the Gulf War was being fought over oil. I rebutted that idea every chance I had. Kuwait called upon our country for help against aggressors. Our country answered the call.
I distinctly remember watching the bombs fall on Baghdad on TV in 2003 and shouting "My country's honor is going down the toilet!! Show me the proof!" But we were never shown.
I generally don't believe much of anything the media spews out. There is so much spin that the truth is lost.
Now, my dismay at this PROOF of the utter nazi regime that we have been subjected to, just leaves me speechless.
For United States Senators (BOTH PARTIES) to state plainly that our Treaty, the Geneva Convention - of all treaties the very most important one, the one that protected ME as a soldier - was violated, disregarded, in fact besoiled by my country leaves me hanging my head in shame.

Place them in the dock at the Hague.
Give them habeas chorpus.
Give them free access to attorneys.
Give them EVERY LEGAL ASSISTANCE that our country has provided our citizens for the past 233 years.
Absolutely do not torture them or treat them in any way shape or form other than common human decency demands.
Give them a fair, open & speedy trial.
Give them everything that they denied the people in Guantanamo Detainment Center.

Our country's honor demands it.
Our country's laws require it.

Posted by: TramplingGrapes | May 18, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

please excuse me.... I should have said,
Give them EVERY LEGAL ASSISTANCE that our country has provided our citizens for the past 233 - 8 = 225 years. We lost so many of them between 2000 & 2008.

Posted by: TramplingGrapes | May 18, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

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