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Obama seeks to block release of abuse photos

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by WoodysGirl, May 13, 2009.

  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Everything is everything... Staff Member

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    By Jennifer Loven, Ap White House Correspondent – 32 mins ago

    WASHINGTON – In a reversal, President Barack Obama is fighting the release of dozens of new photos showing U.S. personnel allegedly abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, a White House official said Wednesday.

    Obama's decision came after the top military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan told the president they feared the release of the photos could endanger their troops.

    Obama decided he did not feel comfortable with the release and last week instructed his legal team to challenge it in court, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the president's decision had not yet been made public.

    Obama has instructed administration lawyers to make the case that the national security implications of such a release have not been fully presented to the court, the official said.

    The president informed Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, of his decision during a White House meeting on Tuesday.

    Gen. David Petraeus, the senior commander for both wars, had also weighed in, as had Gen. David McKiernan, the top general in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired McKiernan on Monday for unrelated reasons.

    Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said military "commanders are concerned about the impact the release of these photos would have for the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq," and that Gates shares their concerns.

    In Afghanistan, release of the pictures this month would coincide with the spring thaw that usually heralds the year's toughest fighting. Morrell also noted the release as scheduled would come as thousands of new U.S. troops head into Afghanistan's volatile south.

    Federal appeals judges have ruled the photos should be released.

    Through an arrangement with the court, the Pentagon was preparing to release, by May 28, two batches of photos, one of 21 images and another 23. The government had also told the judge it was "processing for release a substantial number of other images."

    The American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing the government for the release, criticized the decision.

    "The decision to suppress the photos is profoundly inconsistent with the promise of transparency that President Obama has made time after time," ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer said.

    The Obama official said the president believes that the actions depicted in the photos should not be excused and fully supports the investigations, prison sentences, discharges and other punitive measures that have resulted from them. But the president does not believe that so publicizing the actions in such a graphic way would be helpful.


    Associated Press writers Anne Gearan, Devlin Barrett and Lara Jakes contributed to this report.

  2. sacase

    sacase Well-Known Member

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    They are just now figuring this out? :lmao2: :lmao:
  3. DFWJC

    DFWJC Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    It's comical that the ACLU crooks would have anythng to say at all about so-called abuse of non-American citizens-- those who would lop off every member of the ACLU's heads as soon as look at them. They so often have a political agenda these days and they definitely choose their battles based on that.

    I'd like to say Obama is using good common sense here, but I have to wonder if the potential to have to release ALL documents relating to this is what is making him do the right thng for the troops.
  4. bbgun

    bbgun Benched

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    Looks like someone is finally listening to Dick Cheney. Snark aside, good for President Obama. This may be motivated by pure political expediency, but it is the right move not just for him but the troops and the country, so kudos to him.
  5. canters

    canters Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    Obama finally does the right thing on this issue. I am almost proud of him.
  6. Doomsday101

    Doomsday101 Well-Known Member

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    Good to see some blood went upstairs to Obama brain
  7. WarC

    WarC Active Member

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    I cracked a smile when I saw this this morning. Good move!
  8. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Everything is everything... Staff Member

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    Obama seeks to block release of abuse photos

    By Jennifer Loven, Ap White House Correspondent – 29 mins ago

    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama declared Wednesday he would try to block the court-ordered release of photos showing U.S. troops abusing prisoners, abruptly reversing his position out of concern the pictures would "further inflame anti-American opinion" and endanger U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The White House had said last month it would not oppose the release of dozens of photos from military investigations of alleged misconduct. But American commanders in the war zones have expressed deep concern about fresh damage the photos might do, especially as the U.S. tries to wind down the Iraq war and step up operations against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

    Obama, realizing how high emotions run on detainee treatment during the Bush administration and now, made it a point to personally explain his change of heart, stopping to address TV cameras late in the day as he left the White House for a flight to Arizona.

    He said the photos had already served their purpose in investigations of "a small number of individuals." Those cases were all concluded by 2004, and the president said "the individuals who were involved have been identified, and appropriate actions have been taken."

    When photos emerged in 2004 from the infamous U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, showing grinning American soldiers posing with detainees — some of the prisoners naked, some being held on leashes — the pictures caused a huge anti-American backlash around the globe, particularly in the Muslim world.

    The Pentagon conducted 200 investigations into alleged abuse connected with the photos that are now in question. The administration did not provide an immediate accounting of how they turned out.

    "This is not a situation in which the Pentagon has concealed or sought to justify inappropriate action," Obama said of the photos. "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."

    The Justice Department filed a notice of its new position on the release, including that it was considering an appeal with the Supreme Court. The government has until June 9 to do so.

    Spokesman Robert Gibbs said release of the new batch of photos from the Pentagon cases would merely "provide, in some ways, a sensationalistic portion of that investigation."

    Obama said later, "I want to emphasize that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib."

    Still, he said he had made it newly clear: "Any abuse of detainees is unacceptable. It is against our values. It endangers our security. It will not be tolerated."

    The effort to keep the photos from becoming public represented a sharp reversal from Obama's repeated pledges for open government, and in particular from his promise to be forthcoming with information that courts have ruled should be publicly available.

    As such, it invited criticism from the more liberal segments of the Democratic Party, which want a full accounting — and even redress — for what they see as the misdeeds of the Bush administration.

    "The decision to not release the photographs makes a mockery of President Obama's promise of transparency and accountability," said ACLU attorney Amrit Singh, who had argued and won the case in question before the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. "It is essential that these photographs be released so that the public can examine for itself the full scale and scope of prisoner abuse that was conducted in its name."

    Human Rights Watch called the decision a blow to transparency and accountability.

    On Capitol Hill, Republicans welcomed the change, however. A military group also said it was relieved.

    "These photos represent isolated incidents where the offending servicemen and women have already been prosecuted," said Brian Wise, executive director of Military Families United.

    The reactions were a reverse of what happened after Obama's decision last month to voluntarily release documents that detailed brutal interrogation techniques used by the CIA against terror suspects. Those also came out in response to an ACLU lawsuit, and his decision then brought harsh and still-continuing criticism from Republicans.

    This time he's kicking the decision back into court, where his administration still may be forced into releasing the photos.

    Indeed, there is some evidence that the administration has little case left.

    Gibbs said the president instructed administration lawyers to challenge the photos' release based on national security implications. He said the argument was not used before.

    But the Bush administration already argued against the release on national security grounds — and lost.

    "It is plainly insufficient to claim that releasing documents could reasonably be expected to endanger some unspecified member of a group so vast as to encompass all United States troops, coalition forces, and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan," the three-judge appeals panel wrote in September 2008.

    The Justice Department had concluded that further appeal would probably be fruitless, and last month, Gibbs said the president had concurred with that conclusion, though without commenting on whether Obama would support the release if not pressed by a court case.

    Thus, the administration assured a federal judge that it would turn over the material by May 28, including one batch of 21 photos and another of 23 images. The government also told the judge it was "processing for release a substantial number of other images," for a total expected to be in the hundreds.

    The lower court also has already rejected another argument the president and his spokesman made, that the photos add little of value to the public's understanding of the issue. "This contention disregards FOIA's central purpose of furthering governmental accountability," the appeals court panel concluded in the same decision.

    Obama's own Jan. 21 memorandum on honoring the Freedom of Information Act also takes a different line. "The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears," it said.

    The president informed Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, of his decision during a White House meeting on Tuesday.

    Gen. David Petraeus, the senior commander for both wars, had also weighed in against the release, as had Gen. David McKiernan, the outgoing top general in Afghanistan.

    Military commanders' concerns were most intense with respect to Afghanistan. The release would coincide with the spring thaw that usually heralds the year's toughest fighting there — and as thousands of new U.S. troops head into Afghanistan's volatile south.

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he had once held the view that it might be best to "go through the pain once" and release a large batch of images now, since so many are at issue in multiple lawsuits. But he — and the president — changed their minds when Odierno and McKiernan expressed "very great worry that release of these photographs will cost American lives," Gates said before the House Armed Services Committee.

    "That's all it took for me," Gates said.


    Associated Press writers Anne Gearan, Devlin Barrett, Lara Jakes and Pauline Jelinek contributed to this report.
  9. ConcordCowboy

    ConcordCowboy Mr. Buckeye

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    Can't say I blame him.

    He said he wouldn't fight it...then heard from his War Zone Commanders and thought better of it.

    Since all the cases related to them have been closed since 2004...all this would do is reopen old wounds.
  10. Rampage

    Rampage Benched

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    finally he's doing something right
  11. Jon88

    Jon88 Benched

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    There's no sense in it. Just punish the people for doing it behind closed doors (if you want to) and be done with it. There's no use in enraging people.
  12. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    you cant punish people of the old administration for doing their job and FINALLY getting recognition for doing a job well done.

    And again, its Team Obama and someone counciled him to do the right thing
  13. Rogah

    Rogah Well-Known Member

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    I respect his decision here and have gained respect for him for having the guts to make it. Anytime a politician changes their mind, they are going to take heat. Obama made a decision and then was open minded enough to listen to his top commanders in the field and change that decision.
  14. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    Its like Team Clinton all over again, I siad this!!!!!! I meant that!!!!! I said this? what the heck am i doing with my pants on?

    No people he did not come to this conclusion so dont go around respecting someone who has a ton of people informing him of the right decision and he didnt do the first time around. He said he was doing it and that was his stance, if hes changed it by now SOMEONE else is whispering in his ear. COME ON we are not kids here. Follow along.

    This guy does not stick to his guns and allows the feel good moment rule him and thats fine, but because he has two pendulums to swing at and he finally comes around KNOWING its the right thing to do and WAS informed of it the first time around, hes doing anything to keep the majority happy on this particular item.
  15. ThaBigP

    ThaBigP New Member

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    I don't trust this sea-change, 180 degree reversal one bit. The ACLU won a court order to force the release of the pictures, and the new administration simply refused to appeal and fight the ruling and in fact publicly proclaimed their allegiance with the pending pic release. Now, what does that mean? And what am I distru****l of? This:

    All Obama has to do is come out NOW and say he's opposed to releasing the pics. Then, in the courts, the ruling stands; or at the very least the administration puts up a limp-wristed defense of its new-found position. Result? Pics get released, but Obama can run around on TV saying he was opposed.

  16. Rogah

    Rogah Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, see this is what I meant about anytime a politician changes their mind, they are going to get criticized.
    A decision of this magnitude is ultimately Obama's to make, and he bears the responsibility for his administration's position. I respect the fact that he is willing to admit his initial decision was wrong, even when that means people like you are going to criticize him.

    I can't understand your criticism here - that is, unless you support having the photos released. But assuming you oppose having the photos released, then why in the world would you criticize the President for taking the same stance?
  17. MetalHead

    MetalHead Benched

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    The pics will surface and he'll blame it on someone else..it's never his fault...just like the photo operation with AF1...book it.
  18. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    Again, when a politician smiles, they want something, read the BigP's post. I was right, he was smiling and he wants credit for something. The court order will go through and this guy wants to swing pendulums and have people like you buy it at high value CAUSE you think the guy did the right thing.

    He didnt. If you have a decision and me and another person both inform you on both stances, and you are clear to make the right decision the first time AND YOU DONT, there are issues. Either more than some people are whispering in you ear, remember i say this is TEAM Obama. Or you are not smart the first time around WITH valid information. Which is it?

    You dont even know if hes changing stance because the democrats said WHOA, guy listen up, once you are out of here a republican might get in or another party and they are going to HANG our guys, we can't do that to our guys. Lets be groovy, people are pissed, change stances and make it look good, we're pin it on someone else, dont worry."

    But noooo you are out there "WOOOO way to go Obama, the way you can pick both answers WE LOVE YOU BABY!!! YEah, thats my guy at the White House. Got it wrong the first time with help, than someone else told him what to do, WAY to go."

    Sorry i dont buy it. He was adamant and made a big deal about his original stance, something or someone told him to make a change. Cause remember it wasnt the public, we were screaming WRONG choice from teh get go. Who was it?
  19. Rogah

    Rogah Well-Known Member

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    You seem pretty interested in telling me what I don't know, but what I do know is that right now he is doing the right thing.

    For some reason unbeknownst to me, that is making you very upset.
  20. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    I want to know why. I question when a politician smiles, i question when they jump ship and than i question when they want to do something for me. He jump ship even after being informed, educated and both sides brought to his attention, he still choose to do the wrong thing with his first answer, now hes changing and I know something is wrong.

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