A federal judge on Tuesday gave the Obama Administration until December 12 to justify its withholding of more than 2,000 images showing detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan being tortured by the US military.
President Obama in 2009 gave his own justification for holding back the photos, saying “the most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger,” and that he feared “the publication of these photos may only have a chilling effect on future investigations of detainee abuse.”
Two successive Secretaries of Defense, Robert Gates in 2009 and Leon Panetta in 2012, filed certifications making amendments to the Freedom of Information Act, which allowed the photos to be kept from the public.
However, in August federal judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that the government must list the reasons for keeping each individual photograph concealed from the public, stating that “Secretary Panetta’s certification is not sufficient to prevent publication of redacted photographs. It was conclusory as to all, when it should have been focused on each separate photograph.”