No Proof that Abu Ghraib Photos Led to U.S. Military Deaths

Thursday, June 18, 2009

President Barack Obama and many members of Congress oppose the release of photos depicting abuse of detainees at U.S.-run facilities on the grounds that the images would spark a violent backlash by terrorists against American soldiers. “Every photo is a bullet for our enemies,” argues Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Along with military leaders, Graham points to 2004, when the first set of detainee images—from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal—became public and caused more attacks on the U.S. military, as an example of why the U.S. cannot risk allowing anymore photos to surface. But a story by CQ Politics questions this claim for keeping the additional photos a secret.

According to Pentagon information and independent experts, there is no clear link between the Abu Ghraib scandal and violence in Iraq. In fact, America fatalities dropped significantly in the month after the abuse photos became public in the last week of April 2004. When attacks and troop deaths increased months later, the cause was more than just Abu Ghraib, experts told CQ Politics. According to Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and international Studies, the connection between the release of the photos and violence in Iraq afterwards “is opinion, not analysis.”
Nevertheless, Graham and Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) are sponsoring legislation that would exclude the hidden photos from being subject to the Freedom of Information Act. A similar bill is also developing in the House.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
No Proof Detainee Photos Led to Military Deaths (by John M. Donnelly, CQ Politics)


Danny 13 years ago
By focussing the issue on photographs the article and the debate is missing the point. Arguing that violence fell just after the photographs were released, but that is irrelevant. The abuse that was photographed did lead to Americans deaths, it was just already common knowledge in Iraq due to the people who had been released or killed there, as this interview at the time proves: openDemocracy: Did the recent photographs of abuse by coalition troops, both American and (allegedly) British, make any real difference or did they seem to confirm what people already felt? Yahia Said: The reception was surprisingly low-key in Iraq. Part of the reason was that rumours and tall stories, as well as true stories, about abuse, mass rape, and torture in the jails and in coalition custody have been going round for a long time. So compared to what people have been talking about here the pictures are quite benign. There’s nothing unexpected. In fact what most people are asking is: why did they come up now? People in Iraq are always suspecting that there’s some scheming going on, some agenda in releasing the pictures at this particular point. At the same time Jalal Talabani of the governing council came out saying this is nothing compared to Saddam Hussein. There was immediate, you know, everybody was quite upset about that.

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