Sunday, April 26, 2009

Obama Gives In to ACLU on Detainee Photos

We're all for government transparency, especially in fiscal matters (and we need more transparency for example to combat vote fraud), but what is the point of putting out information that undermines U.S. security and and stature?
In a letter from the Justice Department to a federal judge yesterday [April 23], the Obama administration announced that the Pentagon would turn over to the American Civil Liberties Union 44 photographs showing detainee abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Bush administration.
The photographs are part of a 2003 Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU for all information relating to the treatment of detainees -- the same battle that led, last week, to President Obama's decision to release memos from the Bush Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel providing legal justifications for harsh interrogation methods that human rights groups call torture.
Courts had ruled against the Bush administration's attempts to keep the photographs from public view. ACLU attorney Amrit Singh tells ABC News that "the fact that the Obama administration opted not to seek further review is a sign that it is committed to more transparency."...
But some experts say the move could have a chilling effect on the CIA even beyond President Obama's decision last week to release the so-called "torture memos."
Calling the ACLU push to release the photographs "prurient" and "reprehensible," Dr. Mark M. Lowenthal, former Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis and Production, tells ABC News that the Obama administration should have taken the case all the way to the Supreme Court.
"They should have fought it all the way; if they lost, they lost," said Lowenthal, who retired from the Agency in 2005. "There's nothing to be gained from it. There's no substantive reason why those photos have to be released."
Maybe the administration will consider setting up a page on FaceBook or MySpace to make it even easier for our adversaries and assorted political opportunists (like this individual) to find documents or images that will damage our nation. Also, do the ACLU minions feel that they are immune or somehow have a force field around them that would provide protection from any future acts of terrorism?

On the subject of transparency in this administration, an excellent blog post here.