Wednesday, October 22, 2014

US ordered to explain withholding of Iraq and Afghanistan torture photos

Obama administration must justify suppression of never-before-seen photographs depicting US military torture of detainees

Spencer Ackerman in New York
theguardian.com, Tuesday 21 October 2014 17.02 EDT

The Obama administration has until early December to detail its reasons for withholding as many as 2,100 graphic photographs depicting US military torture of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, a federal judge ordered on Tuesday.

By 12 December, Justice Department attorneys will have to list, photograph by photograph, the government’s rationale for keeping redacted versions of the photos unseen by the public, Judge Alvin Hellerstein instructed lawyers. But any actual release of the photographs will come after Hellerstein reviews the government’s reasoning and issues another ruling in the protracted transparency case.

While Hellerstein left unclear how much of the Justice Department’s declaration will itself be public, the government’s submission is likely to be its most detailed argument for secrecy over the imagery in a case that has lasted a decade.

“The only thing that bothers me is that we’re taking a lot of time,” Hellerstein told a nearly empty courtroom.

(More here.)

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