Friday, September 30, 2005

Transparency triumphs in the US

The ACLU has won their fight to have the remaining pictures and videos from Abu Ghraib (shown to Congress but otherwise kept secret) released to the public. The government had argued that the photos had to be kept secret for fear that more scenes of Americans torturing Iraqis would "provide a pretext for terrorism"; the court rejected this in the strongest possible language, saying that terrorists "do not need pretexts for their barbarism" and that

Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command.


With great respect to the concerns expressed by General Meyers, my task is not to defer to our worst fears, but to interpret and apply the law, in this case, the Freedom of Information Act, which advances values important to our society, transparency and accountability in government.

Of course, "transparency and accountability" are precisely what the government was trying to avoid...

But I think the award for the most shameful response goes to CENTCOM commander General John Abizaid, who claimed that releasing the pictures would present "a false image" and distort reality. Which turns reality on its head - now the cover up is the truth, and the truth is the distortion. Orwell's "Ministry of Truth" would have been proud...

If you're interested, the full judgement can be read here.