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Document a Day: What We've Seen, What We Haven't Seen

Larry Siems,
The Torture Report
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June 23, 2010

Still shocking six years after they first were leaked to the media, the images of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison that a whistleblowing soldier turned over to military criminal investigators in January 2004 are only a fraction of the torture photographs and videotapes known to exist. Although federal courts adjudicating the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit have repeatedly ordered the images released, the Department of Defense continues to suppress this most graphic, direct evidence of torture.

The still-secret photographs include images of torture and abuses at detention sites in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Quoting army investigative files, the U.S. government admitted in its petition asking the Supreme Court to review the Appellate Court decision ordering their release that “the photographs include an image showing several soldiers posing near standing detainees who are handcuffed to bars with ‘sandbags covering their heads’ while a soldier holds a broom as if “sticking [its] end * * * into the rectum of a restrained detainee, an image of a soldier who appears to be in the process of striking ‘an Iraqi detainee with [the butt of] a rifle,’ and several other images that show soldiers pointing pistols or rifles at the heads of hooded and handcuffed detainees.”

That petition was filed by the Obama administration in August 2009—just a few months after President Obama had announced he would not oppose the appeals court ruling. Congress has since joined the cover-up, passing a law supporting the suppression of the photos.


To read more about and see documentary evidence of the Bush administration’s torture program, go to