Bush Administration Once Again Attempts To Block Release Of Prisoner Abuse Photos In ACLU Lawsuit
Photos Depict Abuse At Facilities In Afghanistan And Iraq
to reconsider a decision ordering the Defense Department to release
photographs showing detainee abuse by U.S. forces in Iraq and
Afghanistan. In September, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Second Circuit ordered the government to release the
photos as part of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking
information on the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody overseas.
"This petition is a transparent
attempt to delay accountability for the widespread abuse of prisoners
held in U.S. custody abroad by keeping the public in the dark," said
Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU. "These photographs
demonstrate that the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody abroad was
not aberrational and not confined to Abu Ghraib, but the result of
policies adopted by the highest-ranking officials in the
administration. The immediate release of these photos is critical to
bringing an end to the Bush administration's torture policies and for
preventing prisoner abuse in the future."
Since the ACLU's Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) request in 2003, the government has refused to
disclose these images by attempting to radically expand the exemptions
allowed under the FOIA for withholding records. The government claimed
that the public disclosure of such evidence would generate outrage and
would violate U.S. obligations towards detainees under the Geneva
However, the appeals court rejected
the government's attempt to use the FOIA as "an all-purpose damper on
global controversy" and recognized the "significant public interest in
the disclosure of these photographs" in light of government misconduct.
The court also recognized that releasing the photographs is likely to
prevent "further abuse of prisoners."
To date, more than 100,000 pages of
government documents have been released in response to the ACLU's FOIA
lawsuit. They are available online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia
Many of these documents are also
compiled and analyzed in "Administration of Torture," a book by ACLU
attorneys Jameel Jaffer and Singh. More information is available online
In addition to Jaffer and Singh,
attorneys on the case are Alexander Abdo and Judy Rabinovitz of the
national ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the New York Civil
Liberties Union; Lawrence S. Lustberg and Jenny-Brooke Condon of the
New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons P.C.; and Shayana Kadidal and Michael
Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
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