Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Virtual Fencing Going Forward. Controversial Photos To Be Kept Under Wraps?

Campaign rhetoric notwithstanding, more apparent homeland security continuity between the Bush and Obama administrations:
In announcing the resumption of a "virtual fence" on the U.S.-Mexican border yesterday, the Obama administration sent a powerful message of continuity with President George W. Bush, who included a pledge to secure the border as part of a 2006 effort to persuade Congress to overhaul the nation's immigration laws.
Much as Bush aides did three years ago, administration officials in the Department of Homeland Security described a five-year, multibillion-dollar plan yesterday to link a chain of tower-mounted sensors and other surveillance equipment over most of the 2,000-mile southern frontier. As before, the network of cameras, radar and communications gear is intended to speed deployment of U.S. Border Patrol officers to intercept illegal immigrants, drug smugglers and other violators, yielding greater "operational control" over the vast and rugged area.
Meanwhile, according to ABC News, it seems that the Obama administration is having second thoughts about releasing those photos depicting detainee mistreatment:
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was today asked about a letter from Sens. Joe Lieberman, D-Ind., and Lindsey Graham, R-SC, asking him to reverse the decision, saying the "release of these old photographs of past behavior that has now been clearly prohibited can serve no public good, but will empower al-Qaeda propaganda operations, hurt our country’s image, and endanger our men and women in uniform.
Gibbs said "obviously, the president has, has great concern about any impact that pictures of detainee -- potential detainee abuse in the past could have on the present-day service members that are protecting our freedom either in Iraq, Afghanistan, or throughout the world. That's something the president is very cognizant of. And we are working to -- we are working currently to figure out what the process is moving forward."
The Weekly Standard goes out on a limb to suggest that a reversal of the decision is imminent. Stay tuned.

Update: It's official--the administration has backpedaled and will now fight to prevent the "extradition" of the photos.
President Obama said Wednesday that he told government lawyers to object to a court-ordered release of additional images showing alleged abuse of detainees because the release could affect the safety of U.S. troops and "inflame anti-American opinion.