NEW YORK -- A judge Thursday ordered the release of dozens of pictures of detainee abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison, rejecting government arguments that the images would provoke terrorists and incite violence against American troops in Iraq.Read it here.
U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said terrorists "do not need pretexts for their barbarism" and that suppressing the pictures would amount to submitting to blackmail. "Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command. Indeed, the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed," he said. Hellerstein ordered the release of 74 pictures and three videotapes from Abu Ghraib, potentially opening the military up to even more embarrassment from a scandal that prompted worldwide outrage against the U.S. when it broke in 2003.
The judge is absolutely right when he says that radical Islamists are going to attack and kill Americans regardless of whether photos are released or not. He was also right to emphasize that the people have a right to know the full extent of the abuses committed by our troops.
Yes, release of the pictures will make diplomacy more difficult in some quarters, and the America-haters at home and abroad will have a field day, and the administration will most certainly take a hit -- but keeping them hidden, now that everyone knows they exist, will only give free rein to the imaginations of our critics. The liklihood is that they are worse than the pictures already revealed, but they can't be as bad as the images our imaginations can conjure.
In a related story,
Lisa Meyers of MSNBC reports:
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The Pentagon has been actively prosecuting every soldier involved in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. But in an exclusive interview an active duty U.S. Army captain says it's not just rogue, low-level soldiers behind the abuse of detainees in Iraq. He says there's a culture in the high ranks of the military that allowed the abuse to occur.Read the whole thing here.
NBC is pushing this story hard, and has an obvious agenda, but this cannot be ignored or minimized. The military leaders must be held to account for abuses committed by troops under their command.
Get the story out, once and for all, dammit!