Torture Photos Can Give Us a Clean Break From the Past

Today, published commentary written by Amrit Singh and Jameel Jaffer, the two ACLU attorneys who filed the lawsuit for the release of the torture photos. They write:

The photos are a critical part of the historical record. The government has acknowledged that they depict prisoner abuse at locations other than Abu Ghraib, and it's clear that the photos would provide irrefutable evidence that abuse was widespread and systemic.

The photos would also shed light on the connection between the abuse and the decisions of high-level Bush administration officials. As the district court recognized, the photos are "the best evidence of what happened."

…The truth is that senior officials authorized the use of barbaric interrogation methods that the U.S. once prosecuted as war crimes, and even abuse that was not expressly authorized was traceable to a climate in which abuse was tolerated and often encouraged. The photos would help tell this story.

President Obama's other rationale for suppressing the photographs is that they would "inflame anti-American opinion and put our troops in greater danger," an argument that was repeatedly rejected by the courts when made by the Bush administration.

Nobody, of course, wants to see anyone get hurt by the release of this or any other information. But the fundamental problem with the government's argument is that it lacks a limiting principle.

…To give the government the power to suppress information because it might anger an unidentified set of people in an unspecified part of the world and ultimately endanger an ill-defined group of U.S. personnel would be to invest it with a virtually unlimited censorial power. And by investing it with such power, we would effectively be affording the greatest protection from disclosure to records that depict the worst kinds of government misconduct.

…We cannot make a clean break with the past until the public knows what happened in the detention centers and why. Blinding ourselves to the ugly consequences of the Bush administration's policies only deprives us of the opportunity to learn from recent history. And if we fail to learn from this history, we are bound to repeat it.

Send a message to President Obama asking him to live up to the promise of transparency he made in his first full day in office. And ask Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate those who authorized the torture and abuse of prisoners.


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ACLU please look at all the people that comment on your blog. Almost all of them do not support releasing the photos. Listen to the public and for once stand up for something that could save Americans lives not hurt them. You are torturing us by bringing up this bull$@!*

Dino Mason

President Obama's taciturn position of his promises made during the presidential campaign, once again verifies that this "liberal" politician aught not be trusted once elected. The fact that he has reneged on many his promises: transparency, releasing the torture photos, prosecuting those responsible, medical insurance coverage for all Americans(one payer), lift the embargo against Cuba, justice and a resolution to the Palestinian people, mortgage relief to benefit the citizens(not the banks), ending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, to list a few. Lets not forget that he also eliminated the social security cost of living increase, but increased the medicare premiums. The fact that he obtained a law degree has made little difference regarding his ideology, which falls short regarding social justice, international law and human rights. Many working class citizens who contributed money, and volunteered in his campaign, FEEL BETRAYED.


The ACLU is nothing but a divisive, subversive organization that rarely, if ever, represent the American public's interests as a whole. Just because your lobby is powerful and screams loud, doesn't mean you stand for all of us. Releasing the photos serves no good purpose. The abuse has been documented, people have been punished. It's time to move forward. Do us all a favor, shut up, and focus on REAL issues that the MAJORITY of the overall public would LARGELY support. Stop ramming your radicalized, left wing agendas down our throats in the hopes of making them policies.

Penttijuhani, C...

I am one not behind the unconditional releasing of the photos in the press. The release should be tied to a particular case which is investigated by a court, for instance. The matter is no more a secret. It should be under a judicial investigation. Another aspect is that there is something very childish and stupid in the whole affair, be it the rules of the law were broken. A few college kids have also landed in the boots of "horrible torturers." Does the publication of the pictures and the publicity made around the matter possibly cover other things worth more considered attention.

Dino Mason

Each and every american who believes in justice should supports organizations like the ACLU without qualification. Also The Center Constitutional Rights, The International Court of Justice, The Criminal Court, Democracy Now have become bastions in support of civil liberties. Those individuals(in this blog) who believe that human freedom comes without struggle are naive at best. Many progressive americans who work for ACLU risk their lives and freedom by taking on the "government". Those individuals who feel otherwise, shall open any history book and read about the persecution of labor leaders(big Bill Haywood, Sacco & Vanzetti, Emma Goldman ) , the "internment camps" for japanese Americans. Those who are not convinced that governments, and "elected" officials must be constrained by the constitution and the laws, ought to visit a country were the despot is the law.

Oleg Vologin

ACLU helping Obama to prepare new 9/11.


Doesn't the ACLU have anything better to do than coddle terrorists these days? And misrepresenting the 1st amendment, ignoring the second amendment, and killing babies doesn't count as anything better in case your wondering.

Dino Mason, the mindless fools that voted for Obama, volunteered for his campaign, and contributed money to his campaign should not be surprised. If they ever stopped kissing the guy's feet 24/7 and bothered to look at the well known facts (disgracefully ignored by the mass media) about Obama's shady past then they wouldn't be surprised now. People in the U.S. and Europe are so amazingly stupid it is really quite fascinating. Coddling Muslim terrorists and violating upstanding citizens' right to keep and bear arms for self-defense are just a few idiotic things most Obama voters believe in. The ACLU is an organization with great potential, but their extremist views and actions are putting our citizens' lives in danger and severely encroaching/misrepresenting the constitution. Shame on the sleazy lawyers and leaders of the ACLU. I'll give their followers a break since most simply don't have the mind power to think rationally.

G. T. Blackwell

It needs to be made clear to the President, the DOJ and Congress that simple truth commissions are not enough. Criminal investigations are not political issues but are, in fact, the law of the land. The Constitution says so. The UN says so. The Geneva Conventions say so. The Radical Rationalist blog ( has undertaken an effort to send copies of each of these documents to elected federal officials. They're trying to raise $10,000 by August 1st to cover the costs of printing and delivering copies of the US Constitution, the UN Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Convention (III) to the President, VPOTUS, AG Holder and every member of Congress.

People need to know that they have some productive outlet for their outrage.

As to the new stack of interrogation photos, in a democratic society things are open unless there is a reason to keep them hidden, not the other way around. These pictures can hardly contain worse images than we have already seen or heard about through memos. Now, if you want to keep them as evidence in a criminal investigation, that is something else altogether...


ACLU butt out!!!!!! Just causing more problems as usual.


Why do you defend those who wish to kill you and put those who will die ,and are dying,to save you,in harms way ? WAKE UP?


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