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Judge Orders U.S. Government to Release More Than 2,000 Photos of Abuse and Torture by U.S. Military in Iraq and Afghanistan

From Photography is Not a Crime

After a 10-year legal battle, U.S. district judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled last Friday that the U.S. government must release more than 2,000 Torture photos showing abuse and mistreatment of people detained by the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The federal government “is required to disclose each and all of the photographs” in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request from the ACLU, as the government failed to prove that “disclosure would endanger Americans.”

In a bipartisan effort demonstrating the decades-long support of the military-industrial complex from both parties, the administrations of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have argued to suppress these photographs, even going so far as changing the FOIA law in secret with the help of Congress in 2009.

“The photos are crucial to the public record, they’re the best evidence of what took place in the military’s detention centers, and their disclosure would help the public better understand the implications of some of the Bush administration’s policies,” said ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer. “The Obama administration’s rationale for suppressing the photos is both illegitimate and dangerous. To allow the government to suppress any image that might provoke someone, somewhere, to violence would be to give the government sweeping power to suppress evidence of its own agents’ misconduct. Giving the government that kind of censorial power would have implications far beyond this specific context.”

The U.S. Solicitor General has two months to decide whether to appeal, and continue the decade-long fight to bury horrifying truth exposing the inhumanity of the ongoing U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among the horrifying images the government may be suppressing is alleged video of children being sodomized in front of their mothers at Abu Ghraib. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh – who exposed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War, where women were gang-raped and mutilated – reported that the U.S. military was sodomizing children in Iraq on video back in 2004.


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