The US administration asks an appeals court to stop the release of prisoner abuse images, showing that Obama has fully backtracked on his promise of transparency.
In a motion filed Thursday in a New York federal appeals court, the Obama administration said that it did not want the photos to be available to the public, arguing that they could lead to violence against US troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Pakistan.
“[Distributing the photos poses] a clear and grave risk of inciting violence and riots against American and coalition forces, as well as civilian personnel, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the motion said.
The court filing also included two semi-classified statements by the top US commander in Iraq, General Raymond Odierno, and the head of US Central Command General David Petraeus, who leads US military activities in the Middle East and Central Asia.
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“[The release of the images] would… further endanger the lives of US soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors, civilians and contractors,” said Petraeus.
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Odierno also claimed that Iraqi officials had told him the release of the photos, which are believed to number in the thousands, could disrupt democratic progress in Iraq before the national elections.
Last month, Obama’s administration said that it would comply with a court order, which was issued following a lengthy Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The order said the pictures must be released by May 28.
Earlier in May, however, Barack Obama reversed his position, saying that he did not feel comfortable with his previous decision.
The new US administration’s U-turn on the issue drew a heavy backlash from the ACLU, which expressed outrage and said the decision “makes a mockery” of Obama’s campaign promise of transparency.
While Amnesty International said that it was disappointed, other US human rights groups also accused Obama of following in the footsteps of former president George W. Bush.
News of the US government’s official stance came as Press TV released some images of the maltreatment of prisoners by US soldiers, confirming an earlier Daily Telegraph report, which revealed the photos of abuse at Iraqi jails include images of rape and sexual assault.
Washington-based investigative journalist Wayne Madsen emailed the horrific images to Press TV, rejecting allegations by neoconservative media that they were fake.
Madsen said when some of the disputed photos were randomly published by the Boston Globe in 2004, neoconservatives made the same accusations against the paper.
The Daily Telegraph report focused on information provided by Major General Antonio Taguba, a former army officer who published a report in 2004 into the abuse scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison.
Contradicting an Obama administration claim that photos did not include pictures of sexual abuse, Taguba said the images showed mistreatment, torture, and rape.