Torture Photo Release Decision Should Be Left To Courts, Says ACLU

June 12, 2009 12:00 am

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NEW YORK – In an effort to encourage passage of a military spending bill, late Thursday President Obama told members of Congress in a phone call and a letter that he would use every “legal and administrative remedy” available to prevent the release of photos depicting detainee abuse overseas. A federal court had ordered the government to release the photos in an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, but stayed that order to allow the government to seek Supreme Court review.

The following can be attributed to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

“While President Obama wishes to suppress these photos of detainee abuse, the ultimate decision must rest with the federal courts. As a separate, co-equal and independent branch of government, the courts have repeatedly considered the factors currently being raised by the executive branch and decided the photos must be released, noting the significant public interest in their disclosure.

“Despite the president’s statements to the contrary, releasing these photos will indeed provide further understanding of the nature and scope of prisoner abuse and will certainly create the political will necessary to hold high level officials accountable for crimes that were pervasive and authorized at the highest levels of our government. This information is necessary to create an accurate historical record and to force an increasingly recalcitrant Justice Department to undertake a criminal investigation of those who authorized and implemented the Bush administration’s torture program. Keeping the photos secret while letting the high level perpetrators off the hook cannot be tolerated if we are to get an America we can be proud of again.”

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