President Obama has now made it clear, after reversing his decision, that he will prevent detainee photos from being released on the grounds that it may harm national security and America’s image abroad.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In a reversal, President Barack Obama said on Wednesday he would fight the release of dozens of photographs showing the abuse of terrorism suspects, over concern the images could ignite a backlash against U.S. troops.
The decision was a blow to some liberals in Obama’s Democratic Party who see the photos as part of a broader effort to investigate Bush-era officials and cleanse America’s image abroad.
Just last month the Obama administration had said it would comply with a court order to release the pictures by May 28, saying legal options for appealing the case had been limited.
But Obama shifted gears after senior military commanders and some members of Congress expressed misgivings about the potential for the photos to generate violence against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Obama defended his decision, saying publication of the photographs “would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by a small number of individuals.”
“In fact, 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,” Obama told reporters. “Moreover, I fear the publication of these photos may only have a chilling effect on future investigations of detainee abuse.”
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the administration is likely to seek a court order aiming at blocking the release of the photos, which had been expected within weeks.
Credit must be given where it is due and I applaud President Obama on this decision. I am glad he changed his mind on this issue as there was no good reason, other than political, for releasing these photos to begin with.
Even if motives may have been to harm the Bush administration, it would be America who was harmed most and I’m glad he changed course. It is a rare display of wanting to do what is right, not necessarily what is the best political decision with his left-wing base.