After many years of debate in court, a federal judge decided the U.S. must publicly release the photos of abused detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Friday March 20 U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein gave the government, which has tried to keep these images away from the public for more than 10 years, two months to decide if an appeal was necessary before releasing the images. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been trying to make them public for some time now.
According to spokesman Lt. Col. Myles Caggins III, the Defense Department will analyze the official decision and “will make any further responses in court”.
The photographs have been a reason for dispute since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The photos, depicting various cases of abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, have provoked worldwide outrage after having been leaked in 2004 and 2006.
There is no information regarding how any other images exist. According to the government, there are 29 relevant images taken at several sites in Afghanistan and Iraq but it is believed there are hundreds and even thousand more. According to Hellerstein, some images are “relatively innocuous while others need more serious consideration”.
Some of these photos taken by members of the army in Iraq and Afghanistan are now used as investigation material for alleged abuse. Some of these pictures depict “soldiers pointing pistols or rifles at the heads of hooded and handcuffed detainees”.
The government tried to withhold these images from the public, considering that these materials could be used to “incite attacks against U.S. forces and government personnel abroad”.
Vice director for operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris agrees that there is danger in releasing these photographs, especially now with the rise of the Islamic State’s (IS) power. He explained that the possibility of IS to use these images to stimulate fighters and supporters into attacking the U.S. military and government personnel is high.
A law was passed in 2009 during the lawsuit. According to that regulation, the government doesn’t need to release images if the secretary of defense confirmed that by doing do, it would put U.S. citizens or government or military personnel in danger.
Defense has done so repeatedly but according to Hellerstein, the government hasn’t been explicit enough.
Image Source: China Daily