Full Release or No Release? – Torture Photos, That Is.

torture muthafucka, what?

So the political internets have been ablazing since President Obama announced yesterday that he was reversing his decision to release photos of detainees being tortured by US troops. The change was a complete 180 from his previous stance of providing transparency into the atrocities of war (while leaving the door open for bringing criminal charges against members of the Bush administration). Obama said his change was based on Generals’ assessments that US troops would come under more fire if the photos were release. And it would ultimately be a threat to national security because everyone knows: terrorist may not have many family photos, but they got albums full of Abu Ghraib torture photos that make awesome recruiting tools.

The military and intelligence community provided the president with their case for the potential fallout and he changed his position based on it. Cool! It shows that he can make decisions based on facts and that he’s not afraid to change his position if provided with options that justify it. Very cool… we haven’t seen that from a president in a very long time.

But, I don’t agree with it. And that’s not to say that I’m smarter than the military or smarter than the president (far from it). But I think the discussion the country is having right now (including me hitting the “Publish” button) is proof enough to terrorists and their potential pledge classes that some really foul shit has gone down. There are actual pictures of it… you just can’t see it… yet.

Yes, the Abu Ghraib photos caused a worldwide shitstorm over the abuses and Yes, the troops saw an increase in violence over it. And the terrorists propagandized it to demonize the Satan Uncle Sam. But don’t you think there’s a point of diminishing returns here? If you’ve seen one detainee torture photo, you’ve probably seen them all. Unless they’ve got torture photo genres – like porn! In which case, you might get desensitized after looking at one type of torture photo for a while, so then you gotta move on to another genre to get the same effect. Obviously, I digress… too much.  The point I’m making here is the cat is already out of the bag. They’ve already seen torture photos. Will seeing more torture photos make them more angry?

And I don’t know if they got Comcast or Optimum broadband in the Middle East (if they don’t, it’s really only a matter of time til they do… though I’d advise them to hold out for FIOS) but I know they got the internets… and they got television… and they got radio. They are not shut out of our discussion. The fact that we’re creating a new shitstorm over new(?) photos transcends propaganda-ready rumor and brings it into the concrete without actually having to actually see photos. The fact that the President of the United States has had to publicly change his stance on the release of these photos legitimizes the existence of these photos. The terrorists or “the enemy” could simply use this debate to step up their attacks on the troops without having to spend money on prints at Walmart or new recruitment centers at strip malls.

Look. The president promised transparency. And aside from satisfying morbid curiousity, the release of these photos -responsibly and in context- would provide the world with a view into the depths of depravity of our previous presidential administration, hopefully with no impact on troop and national security. Why? Because Cheney, Bush & Co “need to be brought to justice.”

The terrorists don’t hate our freedom. They hate that our government lies and uses individuals and groups and nations to do their bidding. And they hate that we hide behind principles; because those principles are used conditionally. Unless Barack Obama is playing an intricate chess game, and is using formal channels (like using the Supreme Court to force the release of the photos) he’s falling back to the role of the tried and tired and I’m not cool with that.

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~ by Mr N-Bomb on May 14, 2009.

2 Responses to “Full Release or No Release? – Torture Photos, That Is.”

  1. These photos are bound to be released, “leaked”, etc within the year. If he’s saying he doesn’t want to release them, I’m thinking they’re worse than Abu Ghraib, somebody’s going to get ahold of them. Too bad Barack already made a statement about this, I was looking forward to an “uhhhh if I was barack…” on this one.

  2. Yes, those pictures will definitely be made public somehow, some time soon… but one would think that the military was disciplined (ha!) enough to not allow them to leak. I agree with Mr N-Bomb tho, how much worse can they be? -So how much madder can they get? Some of the AG pics showed prisoners with bullet holes in them with guards cheesing “thumbs ups” at the camera (not the infamous chick with the cigarette in her mouth).
    I don’t think it’s so much that Barack doesn’t want them released so much as he trusts the dudes “on the ground” when they say it’s a bad idea to release them. But I don’t know if I’d release them either. Last thing you want is a “told you so” and no confidence from the military when shit hits the fan.

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