About the Foto Flip-Flop

It’s inexcusable, Obama’s flip-flop on the DOD abuse photos.

Not (just) because I think he’s wrong on the law and he’ll probably not get Cert with SCOTUS, making this a big pose.

Rather, it’s inexcusable because Obama issued new guidelines on FOIA that he now abandons:

The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve. In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public. 

All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government.  The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.

Granted, a bunch of Generals and Colonels would undoubtedly be embarrassed by the disclosure of abuse that happened on their watch (above all–as Nell suggests–Stanley McChrystal, newly tapped to take over in Afghanistan). Granted, some of those Generals and Colonels (the aforementioned McChrystal) would probably lose their next promotion if these pictures became public. Granted, pundits speculate, abstractly, that the release of another round of torture pictures will inflame the already volatile Iraq and Afghanistan.   

But those are all invald excuses, according to President Obama’s own FOIA guidelines. If you’re going to set a rule, follow it yourself.  

Now, as I said, I think Obama will lose this fight and I think he may well know and be planning on losing it. But I have a suggestion, in the meantime, that would prove Obama was concerned about the troops and not just playing politics with his own FOIA rules. The military dismisses concerns that this is just a big attempt to protect the powerful who commanded units that engaged in systematic abuse. The military says they’ve been working really hard to punish people for this abuse.

But Pentagon officials reject ACLU allegations that the photos show a systemic pattern of abuse by the military.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Defense Department has "always been serious about investigating credible allegations of abuse."

"The policy of the Department of Defense is to treat all prisoners humanely, and those who have violated that policy have been investigated and disciplined," he added.

More than 400 people, Whitman said, have been disciplined based on investigations involving alleged detainee abuse. The discipline ranged from prison sentences to demotions and letters of reprimand.

Fine. We can’t have the pictures (until SCOTUS denies Cert)? Let’s have a detailed accounting of what the military has done to hold the abusers accountable. How were those 400 people punished? You can spare the names–but where are they now? And more importantly, who were their commanding officers? 

You want to protect our troops–that I support–while sustaining these new FOIA laws? Make sure no one is hiding and protecting their own self-interest by hiding behind the troops. A list of punishments–if appropriately serious–and commanding officers will not expose any of our service men and women. More importantly, if the military has prosecuted abuse like it says, it’ll prove to those in Iraq and Afghanistan we’re serious about stamping out abuse. And if we haven’t (call me crazy, but I’ve got a hunch)? Then it’ll provide a way to move forward and prevent a bunch of cowards from hiding behind the troops for their own failure of leadership. 

163 replies
  1. phred says:

    400?!?! Uh, maybe Obama and I use a different shorthand, but 400 is not a “small number of people” unless you are comparing the size of cities.

    I would also request a list of hearings and presiding officers. Who was processing all of these claims?

    It’s a great suggestion EW, but I doubt Obama will listen. He made a bullshit argument today and he knew it. He walked away rather than take any questions.

  2. bobschacht says:

    Yes! Thank you, EW!
    Can we maybe have a congressional hearing so the Generals can explain to us in detail who they are prosecuting for these misdeeds and war crimes? Maybe calling Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman first to the witness stand?

    Bob in HI

  3. dotmafia says:

    What exactly does it mean to “support our troops”? This mantra is repeated all too often, but I never hear anyone explicitly define what they mean by it? Support the “mission”? Support the idea of an “enemy” being killed or injured in place of a U.S. soldier?

    These troops were thrown into harm’s way under false pretenses. To think that showing more photos of “detainee” abuse will inflame already present anti-american sentiment, and when Abu Ghraib pix can be Googled by anyone on the planet, is just plain stupid and shows everyone their aversion to reality. You are right Marcy, the leadership is nothing more than a bunch of chickenhawk cowards trying to hide behind some semblance of patriotism to hide their own dismal failures to the public and troops.

  4. ncaleb says:

    I’m usually all for the release of all information at all times, but I trust Obama on this one. The reason why it was so frustrating when Bush Administration officials refused to release information was because that everyone knew they were hiding things. Here, we basically know what the images are going to show. In addition, photos have the effect of pissing people off–especially people who look like the people in the photos. Obama is being responsible here and after 8 years with zero responsibility, let’s be happy that we have a president who means it when he says he wants to protect soldiers’ lives.

    • manys says:

      Here, we basically know what the images are going to show

      No, actually we don’t. I don’t buy your condescending concern that we’re saving the delicate sensibilities of brown people, and I don’t buy that the effect of this is different than it was with Cheney and Bush.

      Furthermore, “protecting soldiers’ lives” is a canard.

  5. ncaleb says:

    Basically, everyone should consider the power of an image. Think back to Vietnam photos and the effect they had on American public opinion of the war. Images are visibly more upsetting than is information in print. Everyone wants to know the truth, but don’t take it as a personal slight that Obama understands that images of torture is going to galvanize more opposition to the soldiers.

    • bmaz says:

      What the hell are those precious soldiers fighting for if the country they are serving can’t bring itself to adhere to the rule of law, be transparent in their actions and be held accountable for their crimes? If I were one of those troops, I would be fucking furious that these assholes are hiding behind my supposed safety to spare some politicians and bloated generals discomfort, embarrassment and hassle.

      I’m sorry, this is fucking sick and cowardly.

      • ncaleb says:

        If you think that is the reason, then yeah be angry. I don’t think Obama is just trying to protect generals and politicians, but maybe. I could be wrong.

        • bmaz says:

          I cannot be certain either, but i do know that word of what is likely in those photos has been fueling activity against the troops for years. Keep in mind that the people over there are the ones this crap was done to. They know and the word travel the streets like wildfire there. The backlash is here more than there i think. That is not to say there would not be some; especially at first. There will. But the long run security of this country and long term dilution of the motive behind anti-american terrorism is best served by transparency and accountability not imperious hiding and denial of what we have done.

          • ncaleb says:

            You make great points and they resonate with me. Honestly, I’m siding with power on this, which is against my nature, but I am assuming that Obama has used similar calculus in his decisionmaking. I could be completely wrong about that and it could be a pure political maneuver. I hope this isn’t a step toward denying and ignoring what we have done… I think it is the first reasonable use of a national security rationale I have seen in 8 years. I hope I’m not wrong.

        • bmaz says:

          Naw, I think he makes good points. These are the demarcations of the issue really. They should be discussed.

        • ncaleb says:

          Freep? To disagree is to freep? That doesn’t seem very civil. Join the discussion instead of calling names, please.

          • LabDancer says:

            No, it’s … it’s not quite as it appears. It’s not so much being called out AS, as calling FOR. Newcomer here?

            • ncaleb says:

              I haven’t commented much, but I follow all of emptywheel’s articles. She’s quite the researcher.

              • LabDancer says:

                I should have been plain. One of the regulars here is widely acknowledged as in charge of clearing the site of trolls; to the extent attending to such a duty well can be attributed to some combination of talent and enthusiasm, he’s gifted. He goes by the name freepatriot — “freep” being the diminutive. Calling for him in cases of suspected troll infestations is not without precedent.

                • Waccamaw says:

                  Second explanation = clear as the proverbial bell. That one should go into a wiki of “all things ew”. *g*

          • freepatriot says:

            Freep? To disagree is to freep?

            not exactly

            to come here with a bad attitude, spouting repuglitarded talking points, and saying stuff just to disrupt the conversation will get ya “freeped”

            that means you get dropped in my cage, and I get to feast on you till you finally give up or get banned

            it’s not a pretty fate (I can be an intellectual piranha, and you could die of thousands of tiny bites of logic, or we could do it the other way …)

            don’t let it happen to you

            now, am I clear about THIS comment:

            Ok, well I’m trusting the President on this one, manys. Did you see the Abu Ghraib photos? It has nothing to do with “brown people” but rather to do with members of a population being treated like shit. It would enrage Americans if Americans were tortured as well, dick.

            are you trying to call somebody a dick ???

            (hungry drool wink)

      • Jeff Kaye says:

        Agreed! I watched Obama tonight on Olberman give his version of the few-bad-apples-we’ve-taken-care-of-them theory, a direct swipe at the conclusion of the SASC report, and a total lie.

        Even if he were playing some high-falutin’ chess game over the pictures, his iteration of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld line on the torture abuse is harmful and even criminal by itself, as it is aimed at covering up for the torturers.

        Who leaned on him that hard? Or is he a total shill?

        • bmaz says:

          He is a politician and is placing the value of the next vote vis a vis governing transparently in a different place than we do.

        • bobschacht says:

          I’m beginning to wonder if Obama has been listening too much to Bill Clinton in private. Remember The Dog that Didn’t Bark? Bill has been awfully quiet lately.

          Bob in HI

  6. JohnLopresti says:

    Show what is there. fyi, link is to article on catharsis, though it approaches that in a peripatetic way.

  7. ncaleb says:

    Ok, well I’m trusting the President on this one, manys. Did you see the Abu Ghraib photos? It has nothing to do with “brown people” but rather to do with members of a population being treated like shit. It would enrage Americans if Americans were tortured as well, dick.

    • manys says:

      You’re mixing aesthetics and politics and the law. It’s a dangerous combination when you seek to subordinate appearances to politics. The inconvenience of the images (for McChrystal’s confirmation mostly, I believe) has nothing to do with whether they should be released.

      But it’s interesting to see someone say that they would not want to see images (proof) that Americans were tortured, if they ever were, and that in fact those images should not be released publicly at all. However, I believe the US is expected to own up to what we’ve done.

      • ncaleb says:

        Well, aesthetics, politics, and the law aren’t actually separate. We assume they are, but the assumption is incorrect–especially when it is executive law/policy. For example, the only reason why detainees were granted a constitutional right to habeas corpus is that five Supreme Court justices thought so–but the decision was a complete break from prior law. Law is inherently political. If you want to see where aesthetics fit in, the easiest example is the law surrounding the first amendment. For more, see Stephen Winter “A Clearing in the Forest: Life, Law, and Mind” and anything by Cass Sunstein (hopefully a Supreme Court justice in the future).

        Back to this issue: I don’t like hypocrisy at all, but I think there is a qualitative difference between George Bush hiding things because they knew they were wrong and Obama keeping the images from the public eye because he doesn’t want to take the chances of an extreme backlash. I really, really, really like freedom of information (http://www.thelegality.com/archives/55 for proof), but I trust the President on this one, especially since he has released tons of information regarding torture in the past.

        • manys says:

          Law is not inherently political. It is the result of political compromise, but the purpose of law is to be a boundary, not an attitude. In fact–and I’m surprised you don’t pick up on this as a First Amendment fan–it would be illegal to enshrine politics into law. Now, perhaps you were imprecise and what you meant was that the three disciplines have areas of overlap, and I would agree, but to reiterate my point, subjugating one under the other as a matter of course and structure is dangerous. As history tells us.

    • freepatriot says:

      hi new guy

      better look up the word RESPECT

      and GET SOME

      or I’ll disrespect YOU

      nobody wants that …

        • freepatriot says:

          me thinks he’s got a mouth on him

          an re #75, my contract only covers faulty logic an talking points

          I dint see it, be the edit says “racist” or something

          that exceeds my bounds

          (an the stale pizza is late again)

      • msmolly says:

        hi new guy

        better look up the word RESPECT

        and GET SOME

        or I’ll disrespect YOU

        nobody wants that …

        As a regular reader and occasional commenter at FDL, this offends me. The ‘new guy’ was being perfectly respectable, IMHO. S/he was advancing some rational arguments which presented a different viewpoint to consider. It seems sometimes that one can’t express a contrary opinion here at the Lake without being labeled and treated with the disrespect legitimately accorded a troll.


        • dmac says:

          i think the last word in their comment #9 was misinterpreted, as offensive, that they were calling someone a ‘ ‘ not that they were directing their last sentence to ‘dick’ cheney.

          and freepatriot was then doing what you are now.

          i think it was a mis-read. i took it that way till i read it again….

        • phred says:

          The ‘new guy’ was being perfectly respectable

          No, ncaleb called manys a dick in their third post (see #9) — not the way to engage in polite conversation in my book.

              • dmac says:


                i thought the last sentence was directed at ‘dick’ cheney. a rant in a way, but they included it with the other part so it was directed at a person here by mistake.

                i’ve done that before.
                i could be wrong.

                • phred says:

                  I could be wrong, too. It’s just that his comment is open to interpretation and could be viewed to rub people the wrong way and set off the troll-early-warning system — even if it was by accident ; )

        • Knut says:

          I agree completely. People here are pretty steamed up about Obama’s decision, but that’s no reason to troll-rate someone who comes up with obviously non-Thuglican arguments defending it. I think the person could beocme a valuable contributor to this site. There are a lot of topics to discuss, and not all of them involve photographs.

          As to my personal view, I think I’d also be satisfied with a true verbal description of their contents. I have a weak stomach for torture. I think some of those who want them released want so for instrumental reasons: to move the American public against the war. That ship has sailed: they are already against it. As to torture trials, they will come in due time, here or abroad. So what’s left. Prurience?

        • msmolly says:

          No, ncaleb called manys a dick in their third post (see #9) — not the way to engage in polite conversation in my book.

          I interpreted “dick” in the context of a reference to torture as “dick” Cheney, a shorthand many are using these days, and not as directed to manys. And I didn’t read any of ncaleb’s other comments as anything other than reasoned arguments, albeit against the prevailing “wisdom” being expressed by others.

          I dislike ad hominem comments directed at other commenters when I see them here or on other blogs, but IMHO this was a jump to a perhaps unwarranted conclusion. I guess it is up to ncaleb to set the record straight. My only concern is the tendency to stifle contrary opinions when I think they add to everyone’s knowledge.

          And that’s my final $0.02 on the subject.

          EDIT: sorry, this is in reply to phred at #121.

  8. dotmafia says:

    Truth and the reality of war should never be hidden from the public. This is what has been the problem in America since March 2003. The media and the U.S. leadership have conspired to keep the truth hidden.

    This war would have ended if the mainstream media had consistently shown the American public the daily effects of it on the Iraqi people. Without censorship. Showing the blown-up bodies. Showing the dead and wounded children. Showing the grieving families. Showing the abuse. Anyone criticizing this as blatantly indecent or a threat to troops in the field, should question the decency of what America’s government under the Bush “administration” forced upon Iraq, and which has already created so much anti-American sentiment, detainee abuse pix or not.

    The American public deserves to know the realities of what has been inflicted upon others in their name by their government, whether by “bad-apple” soldiers in the field, or by the policy-makers in Washington. The alternative can only be a subtle slide down into the abyss of an Orwellian nightmare.

  9. ncaleb says:

    **let me clarify before I get called a racist, instead of someone merely implying it. I’m not implying Americans aren’t brown. Rather, a I’m making the claim that if we perceive someone in our in-group being mistreated, we will take it as a personal attack. Not very controversial.

  10. rkilowatt says:

    I awoke to see on New York Times front-page a photo of a U S Tank Recovery Vehicle with dead US soldiers’ bodies stacked like logs. At that point, I knew VietNam debacle would be ending. That the NYT would publish such demonstrated the anti-war mood had overwhelmed our mis-leaders.I had never seen a NYT photo so poignantly truthful. It impinged!as if shout “It’s over” to Nixon and Kissinger. [Somehow can’t recall the year.1969?]

    • rkilowatt says:

      BTW in 1963 I surprisingly was called out of Inactive Reserves for weekend training status at McGuireAFB. Upon arrival, the Lt. said “It’s just a police-action…be over in 6 months”.

  11. EternalVigilance says:

    Easily predictable, this is just the other side of the pre-election seduction from Obama. Say whatever makes the prey happy, then when they give up the pink or the votes, do whatever you damn well please, and if there’s some upset come up with some smooth line about why what was promised beforehand now isn’t gonna happen.

    Get used to seeing this pattern over and over for the next four years – smooth talk, public swoons and gives in, Obama does whatever he wants, more smooth talk to get public to calm down.

    Any of you out there who’ve ever been in that kind of personal relationship (or watched a friend get played) should be able to recognize it.

    And the way out, when one finally realizes one’s getting lied to (even if the lie is unconscious – which is part of what makes the seduction so believable – it’s still a lie) is to stop rolling over, start acting with some self-respect, and keep them on a short leash by demanding regular delivery of the goods upfront and watching for ways they might try to get out of their bargain.

    (Now that I think about it, it’s funny there’s a “credit crisis,” because Obama’s just like a con man who always wants more credit, and we’re the bank who has to stop giving it to him and demand some real evidence our money – our public trust – will be repaid.)

  12. fatster says:

    Report: much of 9/11 Commission’s findings cite intelligence garnered by torture


Published: May 13, 2009 
Updated 2 hours ago

    ‘Much of the material cited in the 9/11 Commission’s findings was derived from terror war detainees during brutal CIA interrogations authorized by the Bush administration, according to a Wednesday report.’


  13. ncaleb says:

    I disagree completely. It’s a nasty fact of life, but if there are any boundaries, they are fuzzy at best–cognitive science informs this debate. The only thing that the law does is slow down the pace of political change. It is the institutionalizing of some social principles.

    Judges like to say “it’s not politics, it’s principles”. I don’t see a difference–except that they are using “old” politics that someone else came up with first.

    I did not misspeak. Law and politics are inherently the same… the politics in the courts adhere to a different set of social pressures, but the assumptions about the system are as political as anything else in the world. There is no objective truth about our institutions, they are human constructs. Law tends to be conservative because it is a political choice made by most judges and lawyers–and if you go to law school, it is very apparent how people get these ideas. It’s a lot like torture actually, the breakdown of the personality and all.

    • bmaz says:

      Jeez, that is all pretty heavy. All I know is I been doing this a while and law school and practice both are a game. You play to win and you focus on your opponent and surrounding forum, not a bunch of existential principles. Oh, and you drink and have some fun along the way.

      • ncaleb says:

        *that’s part of it too I’m focused more on judicial decisionmaking. Having done the clerking and all that, and being a cogni-sci freak, I don’t think there is a clear difference between law and politics. Practice is a game, I agree, and lawyers see it that way. Judges (at least the ones I know) don’t.

  14. reader says:

    Odierno is lucky Obama didn’t say ”sorry, too late.” Obama is defying his own policy to have this dance with the brass who have alot of ass-covering to do. I think he’s really stuck because it wouldn’t go over really well to defy the brass when the talking point is ”it puts the troops at risk.” Obama can’t win the argument on that one. Even tho’ it’s another lie. I thought Petraus wanted them all released so there’s some kind of holy fight going on in the situation room.

    The pictures will be the end of the ”few bad apples” meme. It’s a game changer. If the pictures are more of the same, then it’s the interrogation policy in living colour spreading out beyond Abu Ghraib. And we were lied to about Abu Ghraib. If the pictures are different then a whole new set of questions is raised.

    In either case, it means the public will realize that the pictures illustrate the Bush Cheney policy of war crimes.

    Records of the disciplinary actions to control abuse would be good evidence. A lack of records is good information too. We know what that would mean. But if they are selectively prosecuting abuse that is widespread and conforms to an overall culture of abuse stemming from a policy, then that would be a real problem. It cannot be both ”a few bad apples” (400 bad apples?) and a policy. It’s one or the other. How many of these cases are exonerated by the MCA and recent statements about not prosecuting interrogators?

    I would like an inventory of the pictures. I don’t need to see them but I would like an assessment of the contents and meaning.

    And I would like to know WHY the HELL are there so many pictures? What is the point of collecting all these pictures? Is this part of the procedure? Is the procedure written down? Are people trained to the procedures? wouldn’t this be a war crime in itself in that the detainees identity and images of their abuse are recorded and circulated??????

    Are these matters of jeopardy that Odierno understands better than Petraus?

  15. jerice50 says:

    Maybe (hopefully?) Obama has thought through this photo release business farther than we have yet discussed. This might be a clever ploy.

    The Prez posits secrecy, an action that he KNOWS has no legal grounds, eventually, the SC HAS to rule that the pix be released.
    This will result in the appearance (and actuality) of the entire issue being beyond politics. After all, Americans probably consider the court to be the least political of the 3 branches (big exception here: Bush v Gore), and we can truly unravel this mess, methodically, thoroughly, and with fewer screams of partisanship.

    I think few can see the chess board as thoroughly as Obama, and I still have confidence in his game plan.

    • bmaz says:

      I absolutely loathe the thought of this abominable “chess” being played with things that affect the fundamental rule of law. Here is the problem, the “chess” you are so enamored with has as next step either en banc or the Supreme Court. But:

      1) Suppose the Supremes are playing a different game and allow suppression of the photos?

      2) Suppose they the decision as an opportunity to renew and reinvigorate US v. Reynolds which would really bugger the pie totally on state secrets and set a horrid precedent?

      3) The real value of the photos are in an effort at coming clean on torture, a process Obama has heartily started. But, if this is it, the “accountability push” ought to all be coordinated this summer in conjunction with the release of the OPR Report and OIG Report. SCOTUS is effectively done until October, and any decision wouldn’t be until long after that, at best. How the hell does that delay figure into an “accountability push” with the other releases? will he pull the rug out from under those too?

      If the designed play is to push it in this manner all the way through the Supremes, this is one shitty play. If they are just making a gesture and will then release the photos relatively soon, that is different (but not what appears to be being contemplated).

      I don’t see it as certain, especially with this Supreme Court, that they allow the photos out. In some regards, I can see the argument that they are cumulative, and therefore unnecessary because there are already bad photos out there. I do not buy that, but I don’t for a second think this is a slam dunk win for the ACLU. And a bad decision could be very bad if it resets Reynoldsand/or firms up the heinous states secret area of the law. The critical problem with this kind of “chess game” is that, ultimately, a party you don’t master (the court) controls the board.

      • randiego says:

        lol @ chess… knew that was coming.

        Someone made the prediction here the other night (last night?) that this would happen…

        • bmaz says:

          Heh, I actually think he IS playing chess this time; and I still don’t like it. Can’t we just play this crap straight up for once?

          • prostratedragon says:

            What’s wrong with having your life, or at least future health, depend on your ability to execute a spinning, sliding, cross-step twisting kick (when there’s a nice 2by4 in the garbage can right at your hand)?

            Yeah, I could do with less tactical fussiness too.

          • Muzzy says:

            I first suspected chess was in play when team Obama upheld the Bush claim of state secrets in al-Haramain back in Jan. This has the distinct quality of being chess as well. It’s very frustrating that any potential chess has yet to claim any pieces, but the overall process on several fronts remains intact.

            I believe that Obama wants truth and accountability to prevail, but have it occur without directly using the power of the president. It would be a paradoxical triumph by Obama for accountability and a correction in the balance of power to demonstrably occur through other branches rather than by repeated direct actions of the President.

            If true accountability and balance occurs with Obama maintaining general approval from the stormfront freakshow through the use of personal non-actions, it will be historic.

            • bmaz says:

              The idea of “chess” being played on th states secrets claims in Mohamed, al-Haramain and the Consolidated Cases is completely unsupported by the facts and circumstances. And should it turn out that such is actually the case, it would be despicable and Obama should be impeached on the spot for having such a cavalier and destructive attitude about his Constitutional duties and supreme dishonor to his sworn oath office. Cheering for that to be the case is craven placement of self serving politics over the Constitution and rule of law.

              • Muzzy says:

                Obama Playing a game with al-Haramain is a mischaracterization on my part. My pedestrian understanding is that there were legitimate reasons Bush claimed state secrets which need to be preserved, but that the legitimate was used to hide the illegal. I get that.

                We would all like to see Obama overturn the claim and let the case go forward. In this scenario, two ‘undesirable’ things might happen: 1) Obama is perceived (unfairly or not) as immediately using his authority for going head hunting for BushCo and 2) The system (court) is deprived of exercising what they are capable of and are supposed to do thanks to a the sudden luck of having a champ of a president to help out.

                If the end result of Obama’s action is for a new process to be established whereby courts review claims of state secrets first to ensure they are not being abused, and Obama’s inaction in al-Haramain does not ultimately obstruct a just outcome, and Obama maintains his image as not being a BushCo assassin, then it would all almost feel a little chessy, no ?


                • bmaz says:

                  First off, I do not believe that any of the broad brush state secrets claims made by Bush, or Obama (who has made even more egregious and sweeping claims) are legitimate in the least and challenge you to tell me on what grounds whole classes of wronged plaintiffs should be prevented from their civil rights to pursue redress in courts of law. Good luck with that assignment. Secondly, what in the world makes you think the result will be all peachy? Some faith in god or something? Because that outcome is not only not a given, it is unlikely; the more likely result is the wholesale coverup of criminal activity and removal of rights to redress. Just how exactly is that just? Thirdly, if maintaining the rule of law is called by some “headhunting, tough; that is the job he signed up for he damn well ought to have the guts to do it appropriately. Your willingness to put political interests above the system of justice completely blows my mind. I don’t give a damn about his “image” if he can’t do his job. Oh, and courts are not “deprived of exercising what they are capable of and are supposed to do” (whatever that means) by having honest litigants dealing in a forthright manner with the court. You seem to think some magical great good is engendered by making and perpetuating entirely specious claims with the court in the craven hope that the court will ultimately bail Obama’s sorry ass out of this cravenness and magically create a unicorn of wonderful law. This is one of the biggest piles of rubbish I have ever heard. If you think this is how our system is supposed to work, you might want to go back and read some of the foundation for our system of government such as the constitution, the Federalist papers, etc.

          • AKASamurai says:

            Chess, eh? Looks a little more like poker to me.

            Obama add some chits to his stack from the Military by resisting the near-inevitable release of the photos. He can stop resisting and release the photos anytime he wants . . . even if the Courts say he doesn’t have to. The effects of the photo release are marginal outside a courtroom or congressional hearing anyway, except that careers can be broken.

            Nice career you have there . . . be a shame if anything happened to it . . .

      • bobschacht says:

        I absolutely loathe the thought of this abominable “chess” being played with things that affect the fundamental rule of law. Here is the problem, the “chess” you are so enamored with has as next step either en banc or the Supreme Court.

        OK, let’s lose the chess metaphor. Instead, let’s try out the “mine field” metaphor. When Obama looks ahead, and he sees a minefield. And maybe suspects a few IEDs. Across the field is 2012; 2010 is at the 50 yard line (hoo boy am I mixing my metaphors). Obama’s trying to figure out a way to get all the way down the field to score without getting blown up. And to pursue the football metaphor, we know that fakes and misdirection are standard fare. In basketball, too.

        I don’t know if that helps any, or not.

        Bob in HI

      • rkilowatt says:

        Chess is a game having known, absolute rules agreed-upon by players. At professional level, chess is monitored by arguably absolute referees. Similarly with mathematics.

        Politics and life are not chess. There is no set of knowable or absolute rules agreed-upon, much less enforced by an absolute referee.

        Game Theory [a la Johnny vonNeumann] is a better descriptor. His Game Theory allows for both use and abuse of rules; unilateral making and unmaking of rules and new rules; creativity as lying; etc all to some purposes known only to each player, alone. Anything goes to win some prize. Johnny vN did not lay in any ethical restraints or niceties. Thus Game Theory can be, and is, used to forward any purpose.
        Game Theory uses aspects of chess and mathematics…”to game” a contest, wild-style. [That could be implied by the phrase “eleven-dimensional chess” which would then not be “chess”.]

        vonNeuman’s 1940s Game Theory codified ancient practices and it is now pervasive in Foreign Policy, Intell, Business, Politics, etc. It invites using the law to destroy the law. It makes for viscious playing fields, even or not.

        Eamples using Game Theory? Consider Coleman v Franken contest in Minn.; or Unitary Executive; or clever parsing of language; or “dirty tricks”; or Credit Default Swaps; or Diebold voting systems; or SCOTUS’ 2000 Gore/Bush one-off decision; or etc etc etc.

        • klynn says:


          Wrote something about Game Theory about two months ago. I’ll have to see if I can find it.

      • Mary says:

        Here’ the other thing and its the one that makes me furious –

        He’s pinting a target on any judge who follows the rule of law. He’s throwing them to the rabble and saying, “that guy is killing our soldiers” He’s becoming a right wing talk radio host.

        It’s despicable.

        • bmaz says:

          Good point. And the other thing is it presupposes that the government is engaging in intentionally disingenuous and dishonest pleading with the court.

          Okay, I guess that is so hard to imagine.

  16. radiofreewill says:

    If I were Obama and the Military came and asked me to intervene with the Courts to stop the release of the Photos, imvho, I would agree to champion them – on one condition.

    If they would assure me that – in every manner of Military Professionalism – especially in the handling of captures and prisoners – that Our Military will be in Exemplary Conformance with both the letter and spirit of the Laws of Land Warfare, the Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions, then I’d go to bat for their Honor, and Our Honor, really, as a Nation.

    Bush, as the Commander-in-Chief, Green-Lighted Barbarity and Over-Drove the Military to Kill With Extreme Malice an Enemy that Bush designated as Non-Persons, not entitled to the Protections of Basic Human Decency. Bush the Maximum Leader even had Waterboarding – a War Crime – listed as One of His Secretly Approved Techniques!

    As a Leader, as the Commander-in-Chief for the Military, Bush all but told the Soldiers – “It doesn’t matter how many of ‘em you kill, or how, they aren’t real people, they’re just embodied evil – now, go to it! The gloves are off!”

    Another way to look at it is – Bush the CIC was like Lt. Calley writ large – not a shred of Leadership Timber in him – and Afghanistan and Iraq are his My Lai.

    So, I could easily put the Major Responsibility for the Shame of Inhuman Excess on Bush. I could agree with the Pentagon to ask for a hold on the Photos to avoid stigmatizing the Troops. And, I could give the Military the maneuver space to Restore its Honor on its Own, using Principled Leadership and the processes it’s had in place for over 200 years before Bush.

    Bush the Ego Maniac mis-used and Stained Our Military. So, let’s hold/be discreet with the Photos and keep Our Military from getting Bush-slimed all over again. After all, Our Military – despite Bush’s Unfitness for Command – has been Fighting for US All Along!

    The Problem has always been Bush. Every institution Bush has been in has collapsed on itself. Why? Because Bush is absolutely rotten to the core in his Lack of Principled Character. Bush Pathologically Steals and Ruins Anything of Value – like Trust in the Banking System, or Integrity in Law Enforcement – or Duty, Honor and Country in the Military.

    Surely Obama and All of US – the Military included – can see it clearly now – and do the right thing accordingly to Restore Our Country to Honored Membership in the Community of Nations.

    • JohnJ says:

      I think your important point got lost in this deep philosophical discussion here.

      There is something here that seems to be missed; what our troops are afraid of is what the AMERICAN PEOPLE will think of them!

      I live on what I call a generational divide; Viet Nam and not Viet Nam. I “dodged the bullet” by one year. Many of my (slightly older) friends were not so lucky. PTSD rules almost all the vets I know.

      The one thing that stands out to me is that virtually every one of them swears that they were spit on and called baby killers as they returned to the US from there. Now we know that that happened only to a few of them, done by some despicable idiots on the west coast at the time, but the incident made a very profound effect on almost all of their feelings.

      They felt we all thought of them as brutes and killers when they thought they were making a profound and noble sacrifice for those very same people.

      Fuck the Generals and their careers. The troops have to be worried about what kind of reception they are coming back to.

      I am not suggesting an answer to what to do about the pictures, but this very very real issue MUST be considered as well. I am in 100% agreement about the return to the rule of law and the restoration of our government to something I can be proud of again, but in some ways there is more at stake here.

      • radiofreewill says:

        Thanks, I’m taking a position on the Photos that looks like it’s ‘bending’ the Law to accomodate the appearance of Misconduct by the very same Leaders. On the surface of it, I’m not expecting to be popular for it.

        In actuality, I’m like most here – I want Accountability to the Rule of Law, and Not Political Accomodation of First Principles.

        However, and this is just my own predeliction, wherever circumstances are grey and smeared, I tend to give second chances to those who plead that they Acted in Good Faith, but were Mis-Led, and Now Seek to Restore their Honor through Exemplery Service to the Country, US and the Rule of Law.

        Imvho, what the Photos actually show is Bush’s Pervasive, Twisted Influence – across the board from Abu Ghraib and, now, with this set of Photos, other Detention Sites, also. And, because Bush was the CIC, imvho, he should have been Dealing with the Allegations of Abuse as a Failure of Command Responsibility on his own part.

        But, a closer look reveals instead that Bush the CIC was Right in the Middle of Green-Lighting the Abuse himself, making the matter an issue of Unlawful Command Influence, imvho.

        So, simply put, in cases of Poor Leadership matched with Poor Followership, my inclination is to protect the Honorable Followership and extend an Opportunity for them to re-state Who They Are.

        In principle, I’m all for the release of the Photos according to Obama’s own FOIA statement, cited by EW in the Article. However, as a practical matter, I would weigh the prejudicial value, and ianal, to the Good Faith Members of the Military who must continue to Honorably Fight Our Wars.

        I don’t think anyone in the Military Chain of Command should escape Review and Accountability for their Leadership Responsibilities, but I am saying that the Military already has Internalized Systems – Accountable to Congress – for doing just that within its own ranks.

        And, I’m saying that this is a case where Bush the CIC Claimed Publicly to Act as the Protector of All Right First Principles, while actually acting in Secret as a Craven, Sadistic Torturer.

        So, as I see it, Bush is the head that nearly rotted the fish – the whole fish – US – and that, imvho, especially includes the Military.

        On the surface, my support for holding the Photos looks as bad as the Photos themselves, but that’s only because I’m trying to reach through the muck to give a hand to the Honorable Men and Women who were ’slimed’ by Bush’s Dereliction of Duty.

        • NMvoiceofreason says:

          I agree. Uphold the rule of law. If Pelosi goes to prison, so be it. I guess we will all learn what it is like to be “good germans” now. Maybe 50 years on, the world will say the Americans have finally gotten over their terror camp and torture fetish.

          • behindthefall says:

            I don’t know how long Europeans actually hold grudges, but there are some bad feelings in the Middle East that go back a long, long, long way. Fifty years would be the blink of an eye.

            • NMvoiceofreason says:

              I think some people in the Middle East are still upset about some guy being nailed to a cross between two thieves awhile back…. And before that there was Abraham, father of Jews and Arabs… Still haven’t figured out the story of Isaac, where they were told “don’t kill, even if you think I AM telling you to kill”…

              So yes, fifty years doesn’t match Middle Eastern time scales. I was going for WWII fascist fetish, not to get out my RNC armbands or anything.

          • Leen says:

            Most Americans sat back while their counties military illegally invaded another country, created an environment for a slaughter to take place, millions to die, be injured and turned into refugees. I really do not see this any differently than those who sat back while millions of Jews and millions of others (Poles, gypsies, gay, handicapped) were murdered by Hitlers killing machine.

            Those policy analyst in the Pentagon who created, cherry picked and disseminated false intelligence to promote and package an unnecessary war are no different than those who planned the killing of millions during Hitler’s rampage. Americans who have sat on their asses while these horrendous crimes have taken place are no different than those who sat on their asses while Hitler committed his crimes. No difference

          • Waccamaw says:

            Maybe 50 years on, the world will say the Americans have finally gotten over their terror camp and torture fetish.

            I don’t think so. Much as I loathe the phrase “slippery slope”, a taste/rationalization for torture is one of those slopes that never dries sufficiently to claw your way back up. :-((( IOW, a bridge too far that once it’s been burned behind you, there is no foundation upon which to build again.

            • WarOnWarOff says:

              And all the bridges are burning that we might have crossed
              But I feel so close to everything that we lost
              We’ll never have to lose it again

              – Leonard Cohen

      • Leen says:

        I have many Vietnam friends and many of them were verbally abused on their returns. But in the run up to the illegal invasion of Iraq there was a distinct difference and it was very evident from the beginning. I heard many if not all people drawing a distinction between the war, the Bush administration and those that they were ordering to do their dirty work…the soldiers.

        I have not talked with one soldier who has come home on leave or returned who have mentioned any verbal abuse. I have not heard one person at any of the anti invasion marches or after verbally beat up any soldiers. Not one.

        I think folks have really gotten this one. At times I felt to a fault. Even though many of the mostly young soldiers that I have talked with joined because they either believed the Bush administrations endless linking of 9/11 and Iraq or they had joined to get to college. I do believe even young soldiers need to understand more clearly that we have had Presidents and administrations who use their lives for cannon fodder

        Out of 37 (2 cousins) Vietnam friends I only know one who supported the invasion. Not one of them I have talked with supports the torture that has gone on

          • Leen says:

            “I heard many if not all”

            Audio taped and video taped hundreds of the protesters at those anti-invasion marches literally hundreds. Never heard any verbal abuse as I did during the Vietnam protest

            • Raven says:

              Sorry Leen, I am a Vietnam Vet who was involved in the VVAW and many demonstration and NEVER saw or heard any abuse, verbal or otherwise, directed at troops. Try Jerry Lembke’s “Spitting Image”.-Memory,Legacy-Vietnam.

              • Leen says:

                Was asking for a link to your reference having to do with verbal or other abuse towards Iraqi war vets.

                If I am understanding correctly you did not experience any verbal abuse and were unaware of others experiencing any verbal abuse on their returns. Do I have that right?

                Although if that is correct I have heard many Vets say that they were verbally abused on their returns. And from my own experience I heard a distinct difference between those who protested against Vietnam and those who protested this bloody invasion. A distinct difference. Not blaming soldiers

                • Raven says:

                  You bet there was a distinct difference. We actually DID something about the war in Vietnam. This continuing whining about being spit on is one of the reason the anti-Iraq war movement is so weak. It was bullshit then and it’s bullshit now. When I was abused by right wingers I fought back. From the stories you have heard guys came home form a year in the shit and got confronted by hippies only to go to pieces in the corner from the stress of being “spit on”. It’s also called the “stab in the back” and “waving the bloody shirt”.

                  • Leen says:

                    the anti invasion was incredibly strong before the invasion. Had never seen anything like it. Hundreds of thousands accumulatively millions marched across the nation against that invasion in the fall of 2002 and the winter of 2003. 30 million people marched against the invasion around the world.

                    Raven were you there? I sure hope so. It was a sight to behold. Plumbers, Doctors, Teamsters, Teachers, students, WWII Korean, Vietnam and Desert Storm Vets, families pushing their children in baby strollers and their parents and grand parents in wheel chairs. The crowds were made up of a diverse cross section of our population. Really diverse. In the anti invasion march in Feb 2003 in New York I had the honor of marching (walking slowly, pushing wheel chairs) with WWII Vets against the invasion. Get chills thinking about it. Most folks that I interviewed had well reasoned thoughts on why they were against the invasion. The sources of the so called intelligence, what people like Scott Ritter, El Baradei, former CIA analyst, Carter, Brezinski, retired military officers etc. Really well thought out reasons for marching

                    The problem a big problem was that the MSM did not cover these marches fairly or accurately. Hell those tea bag protest had more coverage in one day than the anti invasion marches and protest had in one year. No Bullshit. Any coverage that the MSM was often showing the 20 whack jobs at these marches (you know the ones with black hoods over their heads) would be on the evening news and they would show that clip over and over again.

                    People were burnt out because our Reps and of course the Bush administration did not give a flying fuck what the American public thought, and the media was happy to go along with the Bush administrations agenda.

                    Raven did you have the pleasure to attend any of those marches? I sure hope so.
                    Protest against the Iraq War


  17. LabDancer says:

    I’m sure this is a mere coincidence and all that rot, but:

    If you go over to the Stark [Raving Bonkers] Side of the ’sphere — the ones that perch precariously near the Stormfront path — borderline eliminationists like Ace of Spades HQ — there is uniform grudging concession that, commie subhuman that he is and all, he ‘did the right thing by the troops’ on this photos thingy.

    In that neighborhood, that’s approaching a breakthrough.

  18. pseudonymousinnc says:

    What bmaz said: withholding the photos just lets the imagination (and rumour) take over.

    Obama owns them now.

  19. pdaly says:

    Obama with this 270 is neither looking forward nor backward, just sliding sideways with eyes averted.

    How is his admission that these photos could imperil American soldiers not a ‘backhand admission’ (to coin a new phrase) that BushCo/Cheney/Yoo/Bradbury/Addington/Rice/Rumsfeld, et al have imperiled our American forces. Had we followed the Geneva Conventions, these photos presumably would not have existed and lives would be safer.

    BTW, congrats, emptywheel! I just donated from the east coast. Hoping that the time limit for the matching fund is based on pacific standard time, in which case I believe I triggered a matching donation.

  20. Muzzy says:

    bmaz, while you pegged my pedestrian knowledge of law (I already admitted) you are completely misreading what I favor or support. It’s so off that I’m left wondering if it’s somehow related to lingering wreckage the Longhorns inflicted on the Sun Devils.

    I don’t disagree with your take, and it’s quite evident your feelings in the matter aren’t the least bit diminished from January. I don’t know what wheels are turning in Obama’s mind. My inaccurate musings are an attempt to tap into something, anything, that I can understand about where he’s coming from (and your response is helpful with that) but please don’t take that as my endorsing what he’s up to.

    • bmaz says:

      Heh, had forgotten about that; yeah that was a little ugly, thanks for the reminder. Don’t mind me, I am fighting the general theory more than you; my apologies if it comes off otherwise. And I am prickly about it anymore, this has been going on an excruciatingly long time and it just drives me nuts.

  21. freepatriot says:

    I’m thinkin Obama trotted out the derivatives regulations to quell the howl

    jes sayin …

  22. SparklestheIguana says:

    I miss “shitstain” Jodi.

    And the 13-dimensional chess metaphor is losing its lustre when Obama does a 180 so fast it gives me a neck cramp.

  23. Civlibertarian says:

    Three things:

    1. Congrats Emptywheel on well-deserved recognition.

    2. Greenwald’s take on the flip-flop, Obama’s latest effort to conceal evidence of Bush era crimes, is, as usual, excellent.

    3. Chess, this is an odious concept. There are many people with misplaced faith in Obama.

    The main reason these photos are being kept secret is to keep demoralizing information out of the public eye here at home. Most people outside this country already assume the U.S. has done the worst; releasing the photos would merely confirm their suspicions. Indeed, if the photos were revealed as part of a legal process of holding the high-level perpetrators accountable, delivering justice, and upholding the law, world opinion would improve.

    But release of the photos would have a devastating effect on the morale of U.S. citizens and troops. We all know that written descriptions pale in comparison to photos and video. The effect would be so powerful that many current war supporters would become disgusted, disillusioned, and lose their faith in the cause, making further prosecution of the war much more difficult.

    Remember, the most important thing to the establishment is that the war continue unhindered.

  24. plunger says:

    Pentagon officials reject ACLU allegations that the photos show a systemic pattern of abuse by the military.

    There is frankly no better word than “systemic” to describe the TORTURE PROGRAM.

    Words matter, and systemic is the word.

  25. THATanonymous says:

    The discussion here echoes the larger issue. People here are effectively discussing how many of one’s extra-marital dalliances to reveal to the wife(husband) and when and how, but not the idea that marriage is meaningless if ANY secrets are kept, ever, for any reason. The requirement of no secrets would of course instantly end most marriages, and everyone knows it. Likewise, it would end government as we have known it.
    The question that will not be asked, let alone answered, is … why not decide that all secrets are harmful? Don’t believe it’s harmful? Think for a moment about all the headlines of the day (financial mess, legal mess, war mess, credibility mess, etc.) And if you still think that SOME secrets are okay, you deserve what is about to happen. There are no white lies; there are no good secrets. Period.

    TA (the law is not the law, it’s just a way of keeping secrets and [email protected] says as much.)

  26. klynn says:

    But Pentagon officials reject ACLU allegations that the photos show a systemic pattern of abuse by the military.

    Just a quick observation,

    “Systemic pattern” could equal “planned use of combined techniques”, which may be what Comey was making a reference to regarding “combined”.

    (The word “planned” could be replaced by “intentional”)

  27. BayStateLibrul says:

    The first clue that Obama will side with his military advisors is
    the selection of Gates to stay.
    Obama will back pedal from Iraq, and listen to his “Commanders on the ground”
    I worked for the Defense Department, and one thing you learn early and often, is not to fuckin mess with Generals.
    They have their own agenda, in-fight, and compete for promotions.
    Don’t ever trust them. Their job is wars. They love this shit.
    His defense policies will be the downfall of his presidency.

  28. Leen says:

    Another home run EW. You bring home some great points. Obama has obviously gone back on his word a serious “flip-flop” . As you point out while we wait for those photos to be released this administration should demonstrate that those who abused those who ordered abuse should all be held accountable and punished. More importantly as Janet Karpinski has so often pointed out those at the top who gave license for abuse to take place should be held accountable.

    This excuse that our soldiers may be in harms way is absurd. As if invading Iraq on false premises, disbanding their army, allowing looting to go on while protecting the oil industry, sending Garner home and replacing him with Bremer, millions dead, hundreds of thousands injured, millions displaced, torture in Abu Gharib (which Christian Peace Maker reported was systemic) and elsewhere, persistent humiliation of the Iraqi people by many U.S. soldiers (I have talked with many returning soldiers), rape, etc are not enough reasons for the Iraqi people to hate us.

    Let’s not forget that we “basically” abandoned Afghanistan after we illegally invaded Iraq and allowed the Taliban to regain control.

    Just how releasing these photos is going to cause our soldiers any greater harm than they are all ready in is a sham.

    As you point out EW this “flip flop” has more to do with protecting those at the top of the abuse chain than our soldiers who carry out their orders.

    Why they might hate us

    Abu Gharib photos


    BY US OCCUPYING FORCES…..#038;gl=us


    The soldiers noticed her at a checkpoint. They stalked her after one or more of them expressed his intention to rape her. On March 12, after playing cards while slugging whisky mixed with a high-energy drink and practicing their golf swings, they changed into black civvies and burst into Abeer’s home in Mahmoudiya, a town 50 miles south of Baghdad. They killed her mother Fikhriya, father Qassim, and five-year-old sister Hadeel with bullets to the forehead, and “took turns” raping Abeer. Finally, they murdered her, drenched the bodies with kerosene, and lit them on fire to destroy the evidence. Then the GIs grilled chicken wings.

    These details are from a sworn statement by Spc. James P. Barker, one of the accused along with Sgt. Paul Cortez, Pfc. Jesse Spielman, and Pfc. Bryan Howard; a fifth, Sgt. Anthony Yribe, is charged with failing to report the attack but not with having participated.

    Rape of U.S. soldiers
    The private war of women soldiers

    Many female soldiers say they are sexually assaulted by their male comrades and can’t trust the military to protect them. “The knife wasn’t for the Iraqis,” says one woman. “It was for the guys on my own side.”

    Lancet Report on Iraqi deaths


    They know that a picture of the abuse of Iraqi and other detainees is worth a thousand words. They would rather have the words

  29. Mary says:

    The big lie in what both Obama and this guy:

    “The policy of the Department of Defense is to treat all prisoners humanely, and those who have violated that policy have been investigated and disciplined,” [Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman] added.

    have said is that there has NEVER been ANY investigation of MI’s handling of detainee abuse.

    Taguba (Obama never has anything to do with the Bush whistleblowers – and his DOJ is still making Tamm’s life miserable) made it very clear that he had not been authorized to investigate MI and had been affirmatively blocked from investigating MI and that most of the worst of what he heard references to involved MI.

    I guess, too, if we do get some listing of the penalties handed out the question becomes inescapable — why punish the military while protecting the spooks?

    Obama can’t stand up and say detainee abuse is investigated and disciplined when Taguba is clear on the record that MI has not been investigated or received discipline and Obama himself has been clear on the record that HE WILL BLOCK any investigation or discipline of CIA disappearers and torturers.

  30. Leen says:

    EW/All did you see this on Hardball last night?

    Matthews thinks he has these two guys (no ear phones right now unable to listen again for their names) agreeing that if a special commission were to have access to these photos and then would move towards accountability that this would be acceptable

    Click…torture photos too inflammatory

  31. NMvoiceofreason says:

    If we look at the Senate Armed Services Cmmte. report, “INQUIRY INTO THE TREATMENT OF DETAINEES IN U.S. CUSTODY”, we find a systematic, intentional, co-ordinated conspiracy to commit torture. If you pull on any of the threads, the whole rug unravels. That is why the photos had to be delayed. Obama and Holder would have THOUSANDS of prosecutions, which would tie up DOJ, DOD, CIA – basically the whole government will have to come to a standstill. Imagine trying to do that, fight a war in Talibanistan, and do the logistics to get out of Iraq. Do Obama and Holder want to do that? Will they do that? Only when left with no other choice. This is why Cheney is out of his “undisclosed location” yelling at the top of his lungs “It worked! It made us safer!” because he knows the claim it wasn’t torture is going to evaporate like water hitting an engine block after being driven all day on a hot summer’s day. Waterboarding is torture.

  32. Mary says:

    It’s worth keeping in mind that Odierno is, in particular, repeatedly cited as being agains the release of the pics.

    In the early days of the war, Odierno set the field policies in the Sunni Triangle that pretty much led to overcrowding and abuse in the detention facilities and the populations of that area making such a hard turn against the US and in favor of insurgency.

    Re: Odierno’s 4th:

    “We slowly drove past 4th Infantry guys looking mean and ugly,” recalled Sgt. Kayla Williams, then a military intelligence specialist in the 101st Airborne. “They stood on top of their trucks, their weapons pointed directly at civilians. . . . What could these locals possibly have done? Why was this intimidation necessary? No one explained anything, but it looked weird and felt wrong.”

    the division’s approach was indiscriminate. “With the brigade and battalion commanders, it became a philosophy: ‘Round up all the military-age males, because we don’t know who’s good or bad.’ ” Col. Alan King, a civil affairs officer working at the Coalition Provisional Authority, had a similar impression of the 4th Infantry’s approach. “Every male from 16 to 60″ that the 4th Infantry could catch was detained, he said. “And when they got out, they were supporters of the insurgency.”

    The unit’s tactics were no accident, given its commanding general, according to his critics. “Odierno, he hammered everyone,” said Joseph K. Kellogg Jr., a retired Army general who was at Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-led occupation agency.

    In an interview, Odierno mounted a strenuous defense of his division’s performance, and said any implication that “all we did was kill people wantonly and abuse prisoners – in my opinion, that’s totally false.”

    In July, a member of a psychological operations team attached to the 4th’s artillery brigade, which was known as Task Force Iron Gunner, filed a formal complaint about how its[Odierno’s 4th Infantry] soldiers treated Iraqis.

    emph added

    So what kind of pictures are out there? Pictures that would make a liar of Odierno re: how his troops acted in the field? Pictures that would show the Gens and Cols who sat back and let some MPs at Abu Ghraib get scapegoated had been knowingly tolerating or encouraging the same kind of activities?

    It is a pretty sensitive time right now with the Sunni population and the withdrawal of payments to them by Maliki’s gov, but part of what makes it sensitive is how that population was originally handled by Odierno. The linked article talks about how the Marines who were in the area before the 4th moved in were reluctant to turn over the area, where they had been establishing some cooperation – all of which was quickly snuffed out.

    And regional memories of incidents like this: “father of a 12 year-old boy who had been accidentally killed by U.S. forces and then buried was made to dig up the body himself” die hard.

    Odierno’s guys were also linked to hostage taking:

    “Personnel at the ICE regularly see detainees who are, in essence, hostages,” he charged. “They are normally arrested by coalition forces because they are family of individuals who have been targeted by a brigade based on accusations that may or may not be true, to be released, supposedly, when and if the targeted individual surrenders to coalition forces.”

    More on hostage taking – never the subject of any investigation to my knowledge. The Iraqi Gen who was tortured to death in the sleeping bag had turned himself in bc his sons were being held.

    So I do understand and agree with the issues relating to McChrystal’s nomination and the pics, and I’ll also say that I’m sure it won’t help the Sunni situation in Iraq, but I think a lot of it is that Odierno fibbed about how his guys handled people and the pic prove he was fibbing. I also wonder if any of them involve women or children, which the released AG pictures didn’t, but with Odierno’s policies of sweeping up any males that they thought might be 16 and with the links to family hostage taking, that might be a new aspect to emerge. Odierno is the current head of the “Multi-National Force” (seems the could drop the Multi anytime now) and is top dog in Iraq.

    • cbl2 says:

      Odierno was also the CO when defenseless Fallujans were burned to death in their homes by white phosphorus

    • dmac says:

      mary and cbl—

      here’s another link i have with this—mentions the women and children mysteriously missing from the torture subject….the author mentioned is on the show i linked at 87..just haven’t had time to follow it all out yet.

  33. dmac says:

    just posted this in the last thread—edit-guy’s name is winkenwerder…he was on after the dana priest expose…he was saying that all medical personnel had to fill out surveys about whether they witnessed any torture..i couldn’t believe at the time this didn’t get more air..he stated more sites than were on record, what I WNAT TO KONW is this–where is the report from those surveys?????? he said it was to be compiled and released, NEVER WAS, couldn’t find it…might write an oxdown about it after i look into it again.

    here’s the epu’d comment—-

    know what i think cbl?

    i think this has to do with that thing i heard on the diane rehm show a few years ago….wehre weiderlander or whatever his name is, misspoke about how many ‘rendition’ sites there are….i think if they release the info, we will then know how many locations there were. i think that’s what it is…

    i finally found the radio show last night, thanks to hugh giving me the name in april. haven’t had time to pursue it yet….

    i think that’s why, they release the stuff, they hafta say where it was located. gonna come out…remember we had locations that were in countries where it is illegal and violated treaties with other countries? howmany more were there?

    yep…my antennae are up and twitchin’ and have been ever since i heard him say it.
    Edit replyReply
    dmac May 14th, 2009 at 6:23 am

    here’s the show i think–he was only on twice…..the author of a torture book was also on…


  34. CalGeorge says:

    Why don’t they just destroy the photos? That way, no one will ever see them and we can get on with the business of looking the other way forward.

  35. wavpeac says:

    It seems counter-intuitive but it works. When you validate injustices, when you hold them to be true, when you “understand” the reactions you tamp out the fires, the energy that causes people to blow.

    It’s a built in safety valve for truth and validity. One that allows the human race to continue to evolve in accordance with “what is”. When invalidation occurs, you get self harm, suicide, and terrorism.

    Obama needs to understand the link between “acting out” and invalidation.

    Knock on wood, but I am have spent 30 years working with suicidal violent people. Validating the desire to die, while holding up solutions to the problems at hand, has been the most powerful way to decompress the energy behind violent explosive behaviors. I have never lost a client to suicide, or had one jailed for violent behavior. There’s a reason for this.

    The truth will set us ALL free. It is written. It is built into the fabric of our reactions to living. It is invalidation that makes it necessary to “act out”. Those who “act out” carry a fundamental truth that is being ignored. I am not saying it’s okay to bomb people, I am saying that the mechanism in humanity serves an important valuable purpose.

    Just imagine what it would mean if children who were sexually, and physically abused always turned out absolutely normal?

    Just imagine if war never caused any serious consequences or pain?

    Just imagine that torture doesn’t hurt anybody as long as no one knows?

    Imagine is the key word.

    If it were true, there would be no negative consequences. When we engage in covering consequences that are built into the human experience we are in effect “fighting reality”. (or playing God). Where invalidation occurs the consequences of the immoral, unethical, and ineffective behaviors live on much longer, much louder than when we are able to “tell the truth” and “face the consequences”.

    Obama is trying to mitigate the consequences of actions that have already taken place. This is the equivalent of trying to stop the ripple in a pond from expanding by blocking the ripples. It won’t work, and it leads to choppier waters.

  36. oldgold says:

    If a military commander, who you trusted and respected, informed you that an additional 25 American soldiers were likely to lose their lives as the result of the release of these photos, would you change your mind as to their release?

    I think their is one hell of a lot more to consider here than a lot of you are willing to concede.

    • phred says:

      You have got to be kidding. The soldiers you are fretting over are in a war zone. Their lives are already at risk. The only soldiers Obama is protecting here are the upper echelons and their civilian commanders who authorized, ordered, and encouraged abusive treatment of prisoners. The threat to those senior level commanders and politicians is posed here at home.

  37. Palli says:

    The pictures will out and, perhaps, a delay may appropriately serve to lengthen the absorption time necessary for more Americans to fully integrate the daily torture information that even the mass media can not avoid. The hypocrisies of American belief systems are difficult to displace. This is an ongoing process of torture realization.
    President Obama has the both the empathy -in his African American genes and his innate morality- and the intellectual understanding of the enduring principles of right and wrong to usher us through the truth, accounting, and repentence for our American dishonable torture. I have the faith. …besides I can just imagine how Cheneyites/rushites would enjoy seeing the photos in their quiet studies.

  38. melior says:

    Yep, Nell hit on the exact same thing I did. There’s less chess going on here than meets the eye.

    I suspect what happened is something like the following. The President, as is usual in such circumstances, told McChrystal that he had Obama’s full support, and asked if there was anything within reason that he could do to assist McChrystal’s efforts taking over running the show. McChrystal (who used to lead one of the torture task forces) said something to the effect of, ”Yeah, those torture photos circulating around really have me losing sleep. If anymore get out into the wild, they could cause quite a blowback against me and my men.”

    Obama, reluctantly I expect, agreed to do what he could to keep them hidden. I believe he did this while himself believing he was making a tough choice. I think he chose wrong, and history will back me up.

  39. cbl2 says:

    via Greenwald,

    here is the letter (pdf) the DOJ sent to the court this afternoon, advising the judge that they changed their minds “at the highest levels of Government” and would not, as previously promised, release the photographs, but instead would attempt to appeal the Second Circuit’s decision compelling their release to the Roberts Supreme Court.

    I can’t get the link to work – anyone ?


      • cbl2 says:

        just now worked for me as well – hmmmm

        only thing of note was the 6/9/9 deadline for seeking cert.

        • dmac says:

          and i wonder what those ‘other options’ are…..

          and ianal–how come they can officially notify the court and the plaintiffs that they are doing one thing and then not honor it? it’s ok to change your mind until the judge bangs the gavel?

          • bmaz says:

            Unless the court determines that it would be unfair to allow a change in position, for instance in a situation where the other party or the court had already relied on the previous position to take some further act. I don’t see any reason the court here wouldn’t allow the change in pleading, but it is theoretically possible.

  40. SensiStar says:

    This battle can be fought another day.

    I think Obama realized that.

    The Supreme Court will have to follow the law and eventually release the pictures.

    At least the guy has the balls to change his mind and take the heat for it. I’ll trust him on this one even though I don’t like it.

    Imagine if Bush changed his mind once.

    • bmaz says:

      What kind of pitiful coward relies on a court to bail his sorry ass out from his political fear of making the tough correct decisions. Yeah, very admirable.

      • oldgold says:

        What kind of pitiful coward relies on a court to bail his sorry ass out from his political fear of making the tough correct decisions. Yeah, very admirable.

        Obama is a pitiful coward? Really? That seems a bit much to me.

        Certainly, people can disagree with Obama’s decision without resorting to this kind of adhominem attack.

        • phred says:

          How about “lying sack of shit”? No I suppose not, it might be taken poorly by those willing to overlook Obama’s reversal on the FISA Amendments Act, or his reversal on ending Military Commissions, or his decision to go beyond Bush’s claims of state secrets reversing his campaign promises of open and transparent government, or his approach to improving our relations abroad by telling the Brits he would rather see terrorists blow them to kingdom come than to reveal who authorized the slicing of Binyam Mohammed’s penis, or his reversal on ending the war in Iraq quickly, or … well, you get the idea. Nope, calling Obama a deceitful coward is way out of line.

          • oldgold says:

            Well, you are entitled to your opinion and the hyperbolic words you choose to express it.
            Similarly, I am free to disagree with you and to find your ad hominem attacks on Obama to be less than one might hope for in a civil discussion of an important and complex issue such as this.

            • bmaz says:

              Yes, of course, because the human degradation from abuse and torture, and the craven coverup of the same for political advantage, is oh so civilized. Ad hominem my butt, this discussion is 100% earned.

          • phred says:

            You know bmaz, I’m starting to really wonder whether Helen Thomas was onto something when she asked if Obama didn’t know any people. I wonder if he genuinely lacks confidence in his own vision and in the electorate. He has surrounded himself with insiders from Wall Street to DoD and I just wonder if he lacks the courage and confidence to implement the change he campaigned on. He has capitulated on so many things it begs the question of why? Perhaps he needs more than 100 days to find his sea legs and start asserting himself. Of course the other possibility is his game plan is not the same as his campaign led us to believe.

            • dmac says:

              he’s clinging to ‘civility’ and yes, having people be civil is nice, but not when he is the one in a postion of responsibility for all of us and needs to act..he’s playing what he thinks are polite ‘country club’ rules with these people…but he doesn’t realize that noone plays by those rules once they leave the parking lot. and in the poker room-’club room’ in the back, he’s playing poker, a game he is good at, but meanwhile they’re playing a whole nuther game they bet on the side.

              i keep hoping he isn’t as naive as he implys…but then i remember gomer pyle outsmarted everyone by just being honest and it came back to smack them every time. annnnndeeeeee? andeeeeeee? hopefully obama’s gomer affect will keep the ’sergeants’ at bay.


  41. klynn says:

    This is from wiki:

    In February 2006, previously unreleased photos and videos were broadcast by SBS, an Australian television network, on its Dateline programme. According to initial reports, the Bush administration is attempting to prevent release of the images in the US, arguing that their publication could provoke antagonism towards them. According to BBC World News, the photographs were probably taken around the same time as the previously released photographs, and include some of the same prisoners and convicted soldiers from the earlier images. These newly-released photographs depict prisoners crawling on the floor naked, being forced to perform sexual acts, and being covered in feces. Some images also show homicide and corpses, some shot in the head and some with slit throats. BBC World News stated that one of the prisoners, who was reportedly mentally unstable, was considered by prison guards as a ‘pet’ for torture.

    The UN expressed hope that the pictures would be investigated immediately but the Pentagon stated that the images “have been previously investigated as part of the Abu Ghraib investigation.”

    Five of the newly released pictures can be seen on the ElMundo webpage. SBS claims not to have published the most shocking pictures due to the degree of their depravity, an example being the sodomy photo.

    On March 15, 2006, Salon.com published the most extensive documentation of the abuse. The source who gave the CID material to Salon magazine is familiar with the CID investigation.

    The DVD containing the material includes a June 6, 2004, CID investigation report written by Special Agent Seigmund. That report includes the following summary of the material: “A review of all the computer media submitted to this office revealed a total of 1,325 images of suspected detainee abuse, 93 video files of suspected detainee abuse, 660 images of adult pornography, 546 images of suspected dead Iraqi detainees, 29 images of soldiers in simulated sexual acts, 20 images of a soldier with a Swastika drawn between his eyes, 37 images of Military Working dogs being used in abuse of detainees and 125 images of questionable acts.”

    According to President Bush the torture at Abu Ghraib prison was carried out by a few “bad apples”.

    Did I hear Obama use the “a few bad apples” reference yesterday? Please tell me no.

    • phred says:

      I didn’t hear a “few bad apples” but I did hear “a small number of people”. Maybe he just meant Bush, Cheney, Yoo, Bybee, Odierno, McChrystal… ; ) Huh. Even that approach fails the “small” test.

  42. hazmaq says:

    I’ve become convinced Obama is independently spineless. It’s then no wonder he’s in tune with the likes of Reid and Lieberman and threw tough principled guys like Dean under the bus.

    “But Pentagon officials reject ACLU allegations that the photos show a systemic pattern of abuse by the military.”

    The same Pentagon con game was pushed by Rumsfeld, when some photos showed big scary black guard dogs ready to lunge at shackled prisoners, just for fun by the way and not in a secure interrogation setting.

    What Rumsfeld and Bush held back were the follow up pics of huge gashes and bite marks on just the prisoner’s lower extremities, indicating the dogs were allowed to attack shackled prisoners. We only saw photos of the lacerated backsides of prisoners. The photos of those who couldn’t turn and protect their groin area were held back.

    When White-Power tactics still rule the day in America and beyond- and not even an African-American president dares stop them or try culling their kind from positions of authority, Dick Cheney is and will be your secret daddy for years to come.

    • perris says:

      I remember a particular testimony rumsfeld turned white

      one of the generals said an american soldier had a pro-active duty to physically stop torture no matter who was committing it

      rummy tried to argue that the soldier simply had to “not particiapte”, the general corrected rummy and he looked scared out of his wits

      will look for link

      • perris says:

        here’s the link


        At Rumsfeld’s side, General Peter Pace, the newly installed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was quick to correct him. The general said: “It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it.” Rumsfeld was perplexed. Addressing Pace, he said, “But I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it’s to report it.” Pace was patient but firm: “If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.”

        • perris says:

          At Rumsfeld’s side, General Peter Pace, the newly installed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was quick to correct him. The general said: “It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it.” Rumsfeld was perplexed. Addressing Pace, he said, “But I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it’s to report it.” Pace was patient but firm: “If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.”

          I just thought of something;

          if general pace is correct, and the torture program were legal, then the torture program puts a soldier in the position of either arresting a person for carrying out a direct order from the president, OR being in dereliction of duty

          • dmac says:

            that ties in with the thing i am pursuing…..the surveys that all medical personnel here and overseas had to fill out…whether they witnessed torture.

            weinerlander or whatever his name is at the link i provided earlier stumbled all over himself. he was in charge of all medical personnel in the department of defense.

            on the radio show i linked, or the other one he was on, but i think it was that one, he said a larger number of locations for detainees than had been said before, and made some declarative statements about his personnel that we now know are false.

        • hazmaq says:

          Outstanding link – thanks.

          A secret inside deal between Rumsfeld and Cheney -best buds before they joined Bush, seems to have run underneath the Bush Presidency.

          One person is still missing and unaccounted for however. Who in the military, what Commanding Officer supported and facilitated Cheney’s ‘activities’ behind the back of the Commander in Chief and in violation of US laws.
          Whoever he is -he must still be there,under the rug and still working.

      • Nell says:

        It was Peter Pace. Don’t have link, but that might make it easier to find.

        Ooops, edit/update: you got it already in the next comment.

  43. Mary says:

    Remember that pledge to not interfere in the justice system?

    Well, as long as Holder and Obama pre-determining that Imperial Presidential torturers should not be investigated, much less prosecuted and Obama reversing the DOJ decision to acquiesce with law and instead ordering a coverup– as long as those things don’t count, then he’s doing fine.

  44. 4jkb4ia says:

    NYT has got that McKiernan also opposed the release of the photos, so this may be bigger than McChrystal as Mary found with the Odierno information.

  45. timbo says:

    Surprised much? Put on your Obama button now so that they won’t suspect you of being disloyal…

  46. cherish says:

    OK I’m late to this and probably EPU’d by now, but nowhere in the comments is there any evidence that anyone reads Al Giordano over at The Field.

    The poker game may not be about the photos, or rule of law at all.

    Giordano writes:

    To deduce why the President shifted in just a few weeks, we have to look at what has changed over the past month since the administration first said it would release the photos.

    I can find only one major factor that has changed that has any relation at all to this dust-up, and it was unearthed this week by Michael Crowley at The New Republic, in a scoop titled, “Obama Breaks With Gates, Cancels Nuke Program.”

    The ban on new nuclear weapons is the most historic act, to date, of the Obama presidency, and the national media, punditry and blogospheres have barely touched it. (emphasis mine — c) The US government now, for the first time since the Manhattan Project of the 1940s, has a policy of producing no new nuclear arms. To accomplish that, the President overruled his own Defense Secretary and many of the top military brass. And when you make a move like that, as a civilian head of state, you have to take very deliberate steps to make sure that the rank-and-file military soldiers and the mid-level brass will be inoculated from manipulation toward “going rogue” or, as has happened in too many nations, conjuring a military coup d’etat by assassination or other means.

    It hasn’t been by happenstance that the young President has personally gone to Langley to address and praise employees of the CIA, and to the FBI building to do the same there, and, of course, he’s gone multiple times to the troops of the Armed Forces, always bearing gifts of better pay and health care and benefits and such. It is what must be done to remain strong enough in position as a real commander in chief to be able to buck the military brass on matters as sweeping and important as ending the production of nuclear weapons by the United States.

    The flap over the release of 29 photos of torture has bought the President the cover he needed to issue this historic anti-nuclear order, one that will bolster and give credibility to his nuclear non-proliferation negotiations with other countries of the world.

    • Palli says:

      WOW…I’m so glad I came back to this post and read to the end… This is a real reason for this presidential decision that can be changed but, in any case, in the hands of the judiciary.

      There are so many quiet and intelligent ways President Obama is working to dispell the “Unitary Executive Powerplay” of Cheney.

      On the Torture issues, I trust Obama and will have patience just as my POW father waited for liberation from Stalag 17.

Comments are closed.