Monday, November 30, 2009

High Court: Soldiers-Gone-Wild Photos Stay Sealed

Back in April, the Obama administration agreed to release detainee abuse photos that had been sought by the detainee lobby (the ACLU) under a Freedom of Information request. In May, the administration did a 180, and now it appears that the photos will be kept under wraps permanently.
The Supreme Court did all it could Monday to lock up forever some incendiary photos that show U.S. soldiers abusing foreign prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yielding to Congress and the White House, justices took the expected but formal step of reversing a lower court's order that the pictures be released. Using its budget powers, Congress already had moved to keep the photos secret.
In a brief, unsigned decision issued Monday without elaboration, the court cited a provision in a Homeland Security funding bill that President Barack Obama signed Oct. 28. The provision permitted the Pentagon to block the public release of the pictures in question, as well as others deemed to "endanger" U.S. soldiers or civilians.
"Disclosure of those photographs would pose a clear and grave risk of inciting violence and riots against American troops and coalition forces," Solicitor General Elena Kagan had warned the Supreme Court.
...Technically, the one-paragraph ruling kicks the case back to the New York -based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is all but certain to follow orders not to release the pictures.
Separately, while out of town for the holiday weekend, we happened to catch a glimpse of a TV commercial by one of the candidates in the upcoming special election in Massachusetts that will fill the late Sen. Kennedy's seat. Now this was perhaps just one issues ad out of a series, but the solon looked into the camera and claimed he was running for the seat because the Bush-Cheney administration engaged in torture. Okay, if someone wants to obsess about harsh interrogation, torture, whatever the term of art, until the cows come home, fine. Free speech. However, with the economy in the tank, and joblessness everywhere, a candidate for federal office airs a commercial about "standing up to Dick Cheney." Even in Massachusetts, does that make sense as a political strategy or more importantly, as an effective way to serve the constituents?

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