Over 2,000 U.S. Government Torture Photos Could be Released Soon

Vivienne Scott

More than 2,000 photos of torture and prisoner abuse at U.S. government detention facilities in the Middle East could soon be made public. A judge has ordered that a public records request for the photos made by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 10 years ago be honored by the Obama administration, but there is stalling.

The request has been waylaid numerous times by the Bush administration and now the Obama administration. The most recent delay, according to Newsweek, is that photos showing prisoner abuse or torture at the facilities (such as the infamous Abu Ghraib) could elicit attacks against U.S. interests overseas.

In his ruling, Judge Alvin Hellerstein ordered that the government release the torture photos by last week or provide a reason why it would be a risk to national security to do so. The Obama administration did neither, instead using a legal stalling technique to say they did not understand the judge's order and need further clarification.

Judge Hellerstein ruled that the government prove on a case-by-case basis how the 2,100 torture photos might endanger national security or pose a risk to U.S. interests overseas.

The ACLU lashed out at the government for the stall, calling foul on the claim that the judge's directions were unclear.

"The government says it's confused about what the judge has ordered, but the judge's ruling couldn't be much clearer," Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, told Newsweek. "The government's letter is just another delaying tactic."

The judge has also warned that "postponing the day of reckoning" over the torture photos simply "postpones an unpleasant decision to a succeeding generation."

The location of the detention facilities where photographs have been collected include locations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and possibly other locations.

Some of the photos in the collection are rumored to be far more disturbing than what was publicly revealed in infamous pictures of abuse at Abu Ghraib in 2004, according to the Guardian. The photos document how prisoners in U.S. detention facilities have been treated since the September 11 attacks.

What looks like the final leg in a long legal battle to release the photos comes just a few months after a damning torture report that showed the CIA abused and tortured prisoners at so-called "black sites" at various locations around the world.

It is highly likely that there are torture photos among the collection, which could lead to punitive legal action or attacks against the U.S. government and its interests.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]