The Obama administration has until early December to detail its reasons for withholding as many as 2,100 graphic photographs depicting US military torture of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, a federal judge ordered on Tuesday.By 12 December, Justice Department attorneys will have to list, photograph by photograph, the government’s rationale for keeping redacted versions of the photos unseen by the public, Judge Alvin Hellerstein instructed lawyers. But any actual release of the photographs will come after Hellerstein reviews the government’s reasoning and issues another ruling in the protracted transparency case.
While Hellerstein left unclear how much of the Justice Department’s declaration will itself be public, the government’s submission is likely to be its most detailed argument for secrecy over the imagery in a case that has lasted a decade.
“The only thing that bothers me is that we’re taking a lot of time,” Hellerstein told a nearly empty courtroom.
At issue is the publication of as many as 2,100 photographs of detainee abuse, although the government continues not to confirm the precise number. Said to be even more disturbing than the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs that sparked a global furor in 2004, the imagery is the subject of a transparency lawsuit that both the Bush and Obama administrations, backed by the US Congress, have strenuously resisted
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More evidence of systematic torture during our occupation in Iraq, and War in Afghanistan. We need to expose all of it, put on trial the perpetrators, and analyze why it happened and how we can stop it.