The US has always followed a sensitive approach to the release of photographs showing abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, a federal judge has shown the green flag to the showing of these pictures to the rest of the world. The decision has come in light of the fact that the world should know how prisoners were treated by the military.
Alvin Hellerstein, the US District Judge has given a time of two months to the government for appealing against the ruling. If the government fails to appeal, the photos would be released. US government has been fighting this case for over a decade.
According to the spokesman of Defense Department, Lt. Col. Myles Caggins III, they are looking into the matter and will make the appropriate response in court. The ACLU representatives were, however unavailable for any comment on Friday night. However, they have stated, “are manifestly important to an ongoing national debate about governmental accountability for the abuse of prisoners.”
The fight over the photographs, dates back in the early years of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The pictures from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were released in 2004 and 2006. It created a controversy spark and emerged into an international outrage. ACLU mentioned the photos of Abu Ghraib as an example in order to seek records for the treatment of detainees.
It is not clear as of how many pictures actually exist. The government has stated that it possesses as many as 29 pictures from various sites in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hellerstein said in the ruling that the government might have hundreds or thousands of more pictures regarding the matter. He also added that the pictures to be released will be redacted in order to hide identities of people in them. Some of the photographs taken by soldiers show them pointing pistols at the heads of detainees who are hooded and handcuffed.
The government claimed that the release of such photographs could instigate war against the US forces and government officials who are working abroad. Sinclair Harris, the vice director for operations for the Joint Chiefs of staff stated in the December court filing, “the danger associated with the release of these photographs is heightened now and they would use these photographs to further encourage its supporters and followers to attack U.S. Military and government personnel.”
A law was passed by Congress in the year 2009 to restrict the showcase of pictures in order to ensure the protection of US citizens and military personnel. Now, the government has 2 months to file an appeal. We will have to wait and see what happens in the case with the time.
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