In response to a lawsuit and exactly five years after the Abu Ghuraib prison scandal the Pentagon is now going to release dozens if not hundred of photos which have been taken to document abuse or alleged abuse of terror suspects by U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, as the Washington Post reports today. What do we have to expect and, honestly, why have they been taken if not for reasons of pure sadism? Did the abuse of detainees go on despite former President Bush’s claim of being “un-American”?
Amrit Singh, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) staff attorney involved in the 2004 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that led to the promise to release the photos, said:
“[The photos] show[s] that the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was not aberrational but was systemic and widespread.
“This will underscore calls for accountability for that abuse.”
It is in fact not clear what will finally be shown. An anonymous Pentagon official disputes that the photographs would prove systematic abuse in prisons run by U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. The images in questions have been investigated in 60(!) of the military’s own investigations of abuse allegations.
“What it demonstrates is that when we find credible allegations of abuse, we investigate them.”
This claim is once more not very trustworthy. According to the Washington Post, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates has said yesterday:
“There is a certain inevitability, I believe, that much of this (!) will eventually come out. Much has already come out.”
Mr. Gates also expressed concern that the release of photos and interrogation memos may cause unrest and create further problems for U.S. troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The former Bush administration has argued a section of the Geneva Convention might be violated when photos of prisoners are shown to the public. But a three-judge panel of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit had rejected such arguments in September 2008. There is in fact a significant public interest in potential government misconduct.