Will the U.S. release photos of detainee treatment in Iraq and Afghanistan?

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    The Pentagon has two months to decide how to respond to a court ruling ordering it to release photographs documenting the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Government officials warn that making the photos public could inflame tensions in the already very volatile Middle East.

    For more about this, we are joined now by Jennifer Peltz of the Associated Press. She's been covering this story.

    So, first of all, are these similar to or the same as the — these photos that we saw almost a decade ago now? How many more are there?

  • JENNIFER PELTZ, Associated Press:

    Well, all that is kind of a question mark, obviously, because they haven't been seen. But, also, it's unclear even how many photographs may exist.

    This all stems from a Freedom of Information Act request that the American Civil Liberties Union filed in 2003 asking for documents about the treatment of detainees by the U.S. military in various places around the world.

    And there have been various numbers floated over time. But there's a possibility that there could be hundreds or even thousands of photographs.

    What they depict and whether they depict what could be considered abuse is also unclear.


    So, what does the government do in these next two months? What are their options?


    Well, the government asked for a couple of months to decide whether it should appeal or whether it wanted to appeal. So, that's one thing that apparently the Defense Department will be deciding.

    It's also possible that the government could try to answer some of the judge's questions about specifically what these photographs are and specifically why each one should be withheld.


    And so this, of course, doesn't sit well with the ACLU, who won this ruling at the moment.



    Their organization has wanted these to be released for more than a decade.

    It feels that these are important and telling records of how the military treated detainees, and that they should be known, however disturbing they may be.


    In sort of totality, not with the ability for the government to decide which picture or — which picture is public, which picture stays private?


    Well, a law passed on this in 2009 does allow the government to withhold photographs if it believes that they are going to incite harm to Americans overseas.

    And it's hard to explain this without getting a little bit granular, but, essentially, one of the objections that the ACLU has and that the judge has to how the government has proceeded is that it's said, in a rather blanket way, all of these photographs fall into the category of what should be withheld.

    And both the ACLU and the government feel that, instead, there should be more specificity about each one, why it should be withheld, and why now, or at least documentation that the secretary of defense or another high-level Defense Department official has seen them all, considered them each individually.


    All right, Jennifer Peltz with the Associated Press, thanks so much.


    Thank you.

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