Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stop the Obama torture coverup

It's official now: the Obama administration is trying to block the release of more of the Bush administration's torture photographs.

The decision comes in an FOIA case now pending in the Second Circuit, and reverses a decision that Obama announced last month to release the photographs.

The Justice Department had concluded that further appeal would probably be fruitless, and last month, Gibbs said the president had concurred with that conclusion, though without commenting on whether Obama would support the release if not pressed by a court case.

Thus, the administration assured a federal judge that it would turn over the material by May 28, including one batch of 21 photos and another of 23 images. The government also told the judge it was "processing for release a substantial number of other images," for a total expected to be in the hundreds.

The NPR story, and a related story in Salon, convey the basics of this story. What I find particularly disturbing is this comment:

Obama, explaining his change of heart on releasing the other photos, said they had already served their purpose in investigations of "a small number of individuals." Those cases were all concluded by 2004, and the president said "the individuals who were involved have been identified, and appropriate actions have been taken.

What is Obama doing parroting the Bush line that the torture at abu Ghraib was an aberration at the hands of a "small number of individuals"? At best, this comment reaffirms the need to keep this case going so that the full contours of the torture program can be exposed. At worst, it demonstrates that Obama is willing to cover up for the entire torture mechanism developed by the Bush administration.

What's next?

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