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Bush hides Abu Ghraib photos

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    Fearing riots, U.S. gov t holds back Abu Ghraib photos By William Fisher Updated Aug 29, 2005 http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/article_2176.shtml NEW
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 2005
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      Fearing riots, U.S. gov't holds back Abu Ghraib photos
      By William Fisher
      Updated Aug 29, 2005
      http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/article_2176.shtml


      NEW YORK (IPS/GIN) - Civil libertarians and the Pentagon appear headed
      for yet another train wreck in the ongoing dispute over the so-called
      second batch of photos from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

      In response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),
      the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and a number of medical
      and veterans groups demanding release of 87 new videos and photographs
      depicting detainee abuse at the now infamous prison, the chairman of
      the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, said the release would
      result in "riots, violence and attacks by insurgents."

      In court papers filed to contest the lawsuit, Gen. Myers said he
      consulted with Gen. John Abizaid, head of the United States Central
      Command, and Gen. George Casey Jr., the commander of the U.S. forces
      in Iraq. Both officers also opposed the release, Gen. Myers said.

      He believes the release of the photos would "incite public opinion in
      the Muslim world and put the lives of American soldiers and
      officials at risk," according to documents unsealed in federal court
      in New York.

      "The situation on the ground in Iraq is dynamic and dangerous," Gen.
      Meyers added, with 70 insurgent attacks daily. He also said there was
      evidence that the Taliban was gaining ground because of popular
      discontent in Afghanistan.

      Gen. Myers cited the violence that erupted in some Muslim countries in
      May after Newsweek published an item, which it later retracted, saying
      that a Qur'an had been thrown in a toilet in the United States
      detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He also said the images
      could fuel terrorist disinformation campaigns.

      The 87 "new" photos and four videotapes taken at Abu Ghraib were
      among those turned over to Army investigators last year by Specialist
      Joseph Darby, a reservist who was posted at the prison.

      In legal papers recently unsealed, the ACLU and its allied groups
      urged the court to order the release of photographs and videos, and
      also asked the court to reject the government's attempt to file some
      of its legal arguments in secret.

      It said that until the first photos of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib
      were made public in April 2004, the government had consistently denied
      that any wrongdoing had taken place, despite news reports to the
      contrary. Since then, the ACLU has obtained, through a court order,
      more than 60,000 pages of government documents regarding torture and
      abuse of detainees.

      At a recent court hearing, the judge said he generally ruled in favor
      of public disclosure and ordered the government to reveal some
      redacted parts of its argument for blocking the release of pictures
      and videotapes.

      U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said his rulings pertained to
      arguments by Gen. Myers. "By and large, I ruled in favor of public
      disclosure," he said. The judge said he believes photographs "are the
      best evidence the public can have of what occurred" at the prison.

      He scheduled arguments on the question of whether the photographs and
      videos should be released for Aug. 30, saying a speedy decision is
      important so the public's right to know isn't compromised.

      The ACLU has also called for an independent counsel with subpoena
      power to investigate the torture scandal, including the role of senior
      policymakers, and has filed a separate lawsuit to hold Defense
      Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and high-ranking military officers accountable.

      Reed Brody, head of international programs for Human Rights Watch
      (HRW), told IPS, "The problem is not the photos, but the policy of
      abuse. The release of the first photos last year led us to the
      revelations that senior U.S. officials had secretly sidelined the
      Geneva Conventions, re-defined "torture", and approved illegal
      coercive interrogation methods.

      "The release of new photos showing crimes perpetrated on detainees
      could create new impetus to expose and prosecute those ultimately
      responsible and hopefully prevent these practices from being repeated."

      Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights,
      noted that, "The administration's response to the release of the
      photos is to kill the messenger, rather then to investigate and
      prosecute the real culprits: Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld,
      Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales, Generals Miller and Sanchez, and
      others."

      He agreed that "the photos will be upsetting to anyone who cares about
      humane treatment and particularly to those in the Muslim world, but
      the photos reflect the reality of the type of treatment detainees were
      subjected to."

      "Rather than suppress the best evidence of widespread torture of
      Muslim detainees, the administration ought to launch a fully
      independent investigation and ought to see that an independent
      prosecutor is appointed," he told IPS.

      He added, "Ensuring accountability for the torture conspiracy is the
      best way of demonstrating to the Muslim world that this outrage has
      come to an end and will not be repeated."

      The government initially objected to the release of the images, on the
      grounds that it would violate the Geneva Conventions rights of the
      detainees depicted in the images. That concern was addressed by court
      order on June 1, directing the government to redact any personally
      identifying characteristics from the images. The ACLU did not object
      to those redactions.

      The ACLU said the government has repeatedly taken the position that
      the detainees themselves cannot rely on the Geneva Conventions in
      legal proceedings to challenge their mistreatment by U.S. personnel.

      In a court declaration, former U.S. Army Colonel Michael Pheneger, a
      retired military intelligence expert, responded to the government's
      "cause and effect" argument that release of the images would spark
      violence abroad.

      "Our enemies seek to prevent the United States from achieving its
      objectives in the Middle East," he said. "They do not need specific
      provocations to justify their actions."

      Attacks by insurgents "will continue, regardless of whether the photos
      and tapes are released," he added.

      The case arose from a lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information
      Act (FOIA) by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights,
      Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans
      for Peace.

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