What Do We Know about the Torture Photos Obama Refuses to Release?

Tuesday, May 05, 2015
Associated Press

The Obama administration continues to withhold from public view thousands of photos depicting torture of Iraqis and other foreign citizens by the U.S. military. As it awaits an administration decision this month on the photos’ release, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has published what it knows about the contents of the still-secret photos.

As a result of its Freedom of Information Act request, which is the basis of the legal fight with the Obama administration, the ACLU says more than a hundred documents it did receive from the government “either referenced photos related to cases of abuse or actually contained the photos, which were redacted before they got to us.”

The torture photos originated at more than two dozen locations, according to the ACLU, mostly at U.S. detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also Guantánamo Bay. “Many of them document autopsies and injuries, often resulting from abuse either alleged or confirmed,” the ACLU Center for Democracy’s Eliza Relman wrote.

The ACLU’s archives include a wealth of information about the withheld images. A photo taken on August 10, 2003, shows “a sergeant in the 31 FW Security Forces standing with his foot on the body of a bound detainee lying on the floor next to him.” The photo is still locked away. Other photos show prisoners being forced to view lingerie magazines, some being threatened with dogs and others the aftermath of a mock execution.

One set of photos shows the body of Muhamed Husain Kadir, an Iraqi civilian farmer killed on or around February 28, 2004 at or near Taal Al Jal, Iraq, according to the ACLU. Private First Class Edward L. Richmond, Jr. was eventually charged with murder for shooting and killing Kadir. The withheld images depict the crime scene, Kadir’s wrists in Flexi-cuffs, his body, injuries to his head, and weapons used to kill him.

The Obama administration has until May 19 to abide by U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein’s order to disclose all the torture photographs or file an appeal.

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

A Picture of Torture Is Worth a Thousand Reports (by Eliza Relman, ACLU Center for Democracy)

Torture Photos (American Civil Liberties Union)

Judge Gives Obama Administration until December to Justify Withholding 2,100 Photos of U.S. Use of Torture in Iraq and Afghanistan (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Judge Clashes with Defense Dept. over Release of Abu Ghraib Photos (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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