The US Department of Defense would release photographs showing prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush administration, says a rights group.
President Barack Obama agreed the disclosure after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2004, the ACLU said late Thursday.
“These photographs provide visual proof that prisoner abuse by US personnel was not aberrational but widespread, reaching far beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib,” ACLU staff attorney Amrit Singh said.
At least 44 photos that were taken at facilities other than the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq are to be released by May 28, the group said.
The Department of Justice wrote in a letter to a US federal court that a “substantial number of other images” are also being processed for release.
Singh also noted that the disclosure “is critical for helping the public understand the scope and scale of prisoner abuse as well as for holding senior officials accountable for authorizing or permitting such abuse.”
Former US president George W. Bush who ordered the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq under his war on terror policy refused to release the images, fearing that the release would fuel outrage and violate US obligations toward detainees under the Geneva Conventions.
Earlier last week, the Obama administration released four secret memos that approved harsh CIA terror interrogations on terror suspects during the Bush presidency.
Later, Obama said that those CIA officers who used torture methods would not be prosecuted as they “carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice.”
On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for creation of a commission to investigate if Bush administration officials violated laws.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declined to endorse the idea, saying Senate intelligence committee should complete its own closed-door inquiry, which could take up to a year.