Federal Judge Orders Trove of Detainee Torture Photos Released


By Cheri RobertsChallenging the RhetoricCheri Speak

Last Friday, while everyone was distracted by the coming weekend, U.S. District Judge, Alvin Hellerstein, ordered the release of what is said to be potentially thousands of previously unreleased photographs documenting the torture practices of the United States Government in Iraq, Afghanistan and possibly elsewhere.. The Obama Administration has two months to appeal the hard-fought federal ruling that favored the American Civil Liberties Union decade-long lawsuit.

In 2004 and 2006, when images of horrific abuse at Abu Ghraib went public, the ACLU began seeking the release of all images. The Pentagon has already admitted some of the unreleased images clearly depict torture.

According to Yahoo, Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director said,

The photos are crucial to the public record.They’re the best evidence of what took place in the military’s detention centers [during the George W. Bush Administration].”

The Senate Torture Report, released in mid-December 2014, alluded former President, George W. Bush, wasn’t in the know about torture happening under his watch. The Report said Bush had been “insulated” from the unsavory details of his own torture program.

Interestingly, Bush’s good pal, Karl Rove went on the record saying the former President was in fact “fully briefed” stating,

He [Bush] was briefed and intimately involved in the decision.”


In a 2010 UK telegraph article, when Bush was asked  if he had authorized waterboarding to gain information specifically from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (a detained al-Qaeda leader) the President responded,

Damn right!”

In a VICE news report, journalist Jason Leopold, interviewed James Mitchell, the retired Air Force Psychologist who was identified in the Report as the so-called, “architect” of America’s torture program; a program whose main activity has been relegated to being called, enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT’s) to minimize the sting. Mitchell and former colleague, Dr. Bruce Jessen — another retired Air Force Psychologist, are mentioned in the Senate report under the pseudonyms, Grayson Swigert (Mitchell) and Hammond Dunbar (Jessen). The majority of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program personnel were provided through Mitchell Jessen & Associates, i.e. the “team”.

Mitchell said the whole point of waterboarding was to “induce fear and panic” and he acknowledged,

There were some abuses that occurred.” [at the black sites]

He also admited,

Yes, I waterboarded KSM [Khalid Sheikh  Mohammed]. I was part of a larger team that waterboarded a small number of detainees.”

Khalid Sheikh  Mohammed was not only subjected to waterboarding, or simulated drowning, he was also subjected to “rectal hydration” and sleep deprivation according to the Senate’s Torture Report.

Commenting on the Report, former Vice President,  Dick Cheney, said it was a “bunch of bull and he would do it [use torture] all over again.

The American Psychological Association (APA) is also undertaking a review that questions their long-time support of what were initially “Bush’s” torture practices and policies. The report is projected to come out sometime soon. The review was brought on, in part, due to claims made in the book, “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War“ by Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, James Risen, of the NY Times.

IMAGE SOURCE: The Atlantic

IMAGE SOURCE: The Atlantic

The government has previously refused to release the torture images saying it would incite hatred and further attacks on U.S. soldiers or potentially citizens here at home. In the December court filing, Navy Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris, the vice director for operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff said,

The danger associated with release of these photographs is heightened now [amid the rise of the Islamic State militant group], [IS] would use these photographs to further encourage its supporters and followers to attack U.S. military and government personnel.”

In 2009 Congress passed a law that allowed the government to keep the photos classified if the Secretary of Defense deemed that unveiling them would endanger U.S. citizens,  government or military personnel. If the Obama Administration appeals Friday’s decision they will have to create an appeal for each image they wish to continue to withhold from the public.


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