Obama Supports New Law to Suppress Detainee Torture Photos

Glenn Greenwald's appropriately angry screed on Obama's support for the new Graham-Lieberman secrecy law. I say +1, every word. For shame. Snip:
The White House is actively supporting a new bill jointly sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman -- called The Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act of 2009 -- that literally has no purpose other than to allow the government to suppress any "photograph taken between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009 relating to the treatment of individuals engaged, captured, or detained after September 11, 2001, by the Armed Forces of the United States in operations outside of the United States." As long as the Defense Secretary certifies -- with no review possible -- that disclosure would "endanger" American citizens or our troops, then the photographs can be suppressed even if FOIA requires disclosure. The certification lasts 3 years and can be renewed indefinitely. The Senate passed the bill as an amendment last week.

Just imagine if any other country did this. Imagine if a foreign government were accused of systematically torturing and otherwise brutally abusing detainees in its custody for years, and there was ample photographic evidence proving the extent and brutality of the abuse. Further imagine that the country's judiciary -- applying decades-old transparency laws -- ruled that the government was legally required to make that evidence public. But in response, that country's President demanded that those transparency laws be retroactively changed for no reason other than to explicitly empower him to keep the photographic evidence suppressed, and a compliant Congress then immediately passed a new law empowering the President to suppress that evidence. What kind of a country passes a law that has no purpose other than to empower its leader to suppress evidence of the torture it inflicted on people?

Obama's support for the new Graham-Lieberman secrecy law (Via Daily Siege)

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  1. Yes, the white stag is wearing a turtle shell to cover his loins…. but what. on. earth. is that young woman devouring? A mucous covered monkey? It’s horrible! All the other shots were beautiful and amazing. But that one! I mean, I liked Aliens, but this is *too* much!

  2. The lead image is very nice, as the middle one is a doppleganger for Takuan. (at least in my mind! Haha!)

  3. Jesus Wolfiesma, you’re right! Takuan is hogging the lime light in most of those shots..

  4. Weird. That’s exactly how I pictured him, except with a stringer of smaller fish. Hm.

  5. Due to what seems to be a mixup in the BB software, I am now fighting off images of “enhanced interrogation techniques” involving squid and mucous-covered monkeys…

    (I’m kinda eager to see which post these comments belong to, though.)

  6. Releasing the photo’s might unduly prejudice a jury.

    As this does not involve the executive branch lying to the legislative branch, as was apparently the case during the dates cited, I am happy to see the two branches agree.

  7. Something’s broken. The comments are about some Daikichi-Amano photos, but they’re attached to Xeni’s Obama torture-photo-law piece. Which made for some very odd reading, let me tell you.

  8. What kind of a country passes a law that has no purpose other than to empower its leader

    A F_ _ _ one, stupid! …get doublethinking!

  9. The tentacles! They Grow! Aiiiiii-eeeeeee!!

    * Swoosh! *
    * g-r-R-()\/\/ *
    *
    S-P-A-W-N *
    *
    Reaching panoply of tentacled death! *
    * Myriad spine, claw, barb, tooth and nail! *
    * Hundreds-strong choir singing in latin! ah! aH! AHHH! *
    * Squelch! *

    You’ve been warned.

  10. This is the best BB discussion ever!

    Reminds me of when “the Far Side” captions got mixed up with “Dennis the Menace”

    “I see your little, petrified skull … labeled and resting on a shelf somewhere,”

  11. You knew Obama was lying to the rubes to get elected, you just didn’t realize that you were the rubes.

  12. This is just a lame attempt to add some Govt. DRM, and I predict it will be equally effective. Pentagon Papers anyone?

    Interesting, though, that the bill says Armed Forces, which doesn’t cover the CIA.

  13. The wormhole that goes from tentacle porn to Obama passes through an airport with a dodgy internet connection. We are attempting to find the original post and revert this transporter accident.

  14. so, when these images (here) get out on the web, what will the jihadis in the hills of Pakistan make of them?

  15. You knew Obama was lying to the rubes to get elected, you just didn’t realize that you were the rubes.

    You’re playing checkers. We’re playing chess.

    1. You’re playing checkers. We’re playing chess.

      More like Candyland versus dinosaur polo.

  16. This is one of the most hilarious comment/post collisions ever.
    Please, moderators, don’t fix it!

  17. The sad part is:

    Was there anyone on the ballot who wasn’t going to screw us like this if elected?

  18. With every passing day I feel more vindicated in voting for Cynthia McKinney for Green party rather than Obama. And also with every passing day my small, real-politik hope that I did hold for Obama slips a notch. Actually a big notch, what with allowing the the bankruptcy of GM, which will rapidly cause a chain reaction of industrial bankruptcy possibly leading to total economic collapse. You could say Obama’s hands are tied, but then, if your hands are tied you can still start kicking and shouting. Instead, he just sits on our collective throne of personality cult idolization looking good while the attendants take off with the treasury. Literally!
    It’s time to stop the magical thinking and realize what a mess we have on our hands. Obama isn’t the change, he just was smart enough to ride it into the white house. We are the change. Time to get working.

  19. Obama wasn’t liberal enough for me. I knew that coming in. The alternative of letting the Republicans continue to hold the oval office (or in their case, the offal office) would have been worse.

    I’d love to have an Australian-rules ballot system, so voting for a minor party wasn’t such a complete waste of a vote. Unfortunately, America is not quite ready for democracy.

  20. First; I am staunchly against this decision by Obama. (Every day I’m wondering more and more when a real political visionary will get elected and be the impetus for change with a dash of hope.)

    Second: Are we rubes? Or should we really be scared (or even TERRORfied) by what Obama is hearing in his security briefings? These these kind of repeated 180s, reversing course and abandoning promises, are definitely damaging to his base. He has to be doing this for some reason, no?

    Frankly, I already feel de-energized about voting for him in 2008…

  21. If he doesn’t retro cover Bush’s ass, when they next guy comes along Obama would be hung out to dry for the illegal things he will have done as president.

    All the presidents have done at least one illegal act, and will be called upon to do things that are illegal.

  22. a, crap, what’s with the $cientology ads again? Especially after Wikipedia banned them and France is making them illegal.

  23. Speaking of wormholes… cough*cough… untitled one!

    Such a mysterious seductress, that untitled one.

    It’s a trap! The computer locks! Can’t! Scroll! Down! Release me! Oh untitled one!

  24. “so, when these images (here) get out on the web, what will the jihadis in the hills of Pakistan make of them?”
    Damn good question… what I’d give to see the hairy, armed to-the-teeth jihadi’s faces when they lay eyes on the squid pics.

    But seriously… I know Obama’s a politician, and I’m not even an American, and I expected Obama to do a LOT of compromising … but I did not expect an active conspiracy to save the rapists and mass murderers. His incredible legal mind and political capital is directed towards this end? WTF?
    Will the Obama volunteers be left any reason to campaign for his reelection?

  25. Anything we do in America is taken and dissected by people who are interested in doing us harm.
    These photos would definitely be pounced on by those sorts of people and used to recruit more people interested in doing us harm.

    This is because what we did was shameful and heinous. Americans should never have engaged in any behaviors remotely like this. The mere acts cheapen what we represent (at least to ourselves).

    Were it another country I would say release the photos and reap the whirlwind. However, this is my country and I am comfortable enough in my hypocrisy to say that a delay of a few years might not be the worst idea in the world. That’s not right, but it is what it is.

  26. @31:

    You could say Obama’s hands are tied, but then, if your hands are tied you can still start kicking and shouting.

    Look, the squids had arrived LONG BEFORE Obama came in to office. And if you think you could kick and shout in such a situation, then I question your loyalty as a democrat in the first place.

    @32:

    Or should we really be scared (or even TERRORfied) by what Obama is hearing in his security briefings?

    Cephalopod bondage has again been clearly declared illegal via executive order. What good does it do us (or the creatures of the sea) to drag this country though that ordeal again?

  27. On my friend’s 21st birthday party in 1988, one kid at the party took the lava lamp and shook it. and I quote, “Brah, check it out. The Worlds are colliding!”

    That’s how I feel about these comments, a beautifully chaotic merger.

    As for the pictures: I’m for complete transparency, this goes beyond political parties. Those who are gonna get pissed off, don’t need pictures to fuel the fire, it’s just an excuse.

    Call it torture, advanced interrogation techniques, what have you, this is being done in our name. Sweeping it under the rug like it never happened and letting those responsible not be held responsible is criminal.

    Whether you agree or disagree with the policy, let’s bring it out in the open, show us the pictures. If not, what next will we sweep under the carpet, where none will be held responsible.

  28. @38
    However, this is my country and I am comfortable enough in my hypocrisy to say that a delay of a few years might not be the worst idea in the world.

    In that case, why the option for indefinite renewal. Why not have a three year withholding with a mandatory release at that time? I would find that far more palatable. (However, four to eight years may be better so it doesn’t become a campaign issue in three, which it will.)

    I am starting to have a real distain for the word “indefinite.” Can’t it ever be used in a positive context?

    For example, ‘Congress has passed a law Indefinitely upholding Ian’s civil liberties and constitutional rights regardless of any/all past, future, potential and/or averted terror attacks.’ Or perhaps, if that is too much, ‘An indefinite suspension of the first amendment right of all political and media organizations to classify anything/everything under the umbrella of “terror”‘

  29. what’s with the $cientology ads again?

    They’re like herpes: you can treat the sores, but they always come back. If anybody sees a Scientology ad, please send me a screen shot. kthxbai.

  30. @45
    The worse the pictures are, the more important it is for them to be released to the public. This is true even if some consequences of releasing them may be dire, although, I do agree with 43:
    Those who are gonna get pissed off, don’t need pictures to fuel the fire, it’s just an excuse.

    Plus, I don’t think Obama should be getting coerced (practically blackmailed) by Maliki – if that actually is the case.

  31. why not? he’s the president of America and America destroyed Iraq on a lie. Maliki has the higher moral ground to ask ANYTHING.

  32. Anything we do in America is taken and dissected by people who are interested in doing us harm.
    These photos would definitely be pounced on by those sorts of people and used to recruit more people interested in doing us harm.

    Oh, really?

    And what is better grist for a propaganda mill? (check only one)

    A- Damning photographs released to the citizens of a democracy confirming the common knowledge that detainees have been abused and tortured.
    B- That democracy being so ashamed of itself that it defies its own laws in a move which parallels the actions of a dictatorship, hiding evidence of its own wrongdoing from the world… and basically confessing that hiding evidence is exactly what it’s doing.

    The fact that our government refuses to be penitent about their crimes is even worse for us than releasing the images would have been.

    We’re not protecting our troops from backlash. We’re protecting the people who committed the crimes from backlash. Don’t be a fool.

  33. @48
    Because we shouldn’t have been there, we shouldn’t be there, and our son, daughters, mothers and fathers shouldn’t continue to be getting killed.

    We should pull everyone out, confess to all our sins, open up the archives, and give Iraq 10% of our Iraq war budget in non-military aid. And if they can’t sort it out for themselves, oh well we’re bankrupt (both morally and financially) anyways.

    Of course, I waiver between that sentiment and the one that we have to stay there and clean up the mess we made, like my mother taught me.

    Frankly, I always know what I think we should do, it just changes daily. I am glad the burden of cleaning up Bush’s mess(s) is not on my shoulders. That being said, Obama and his campaign should be convicted of false advertising.

  34. I find it entertaining when people get indignant over promises that were never made either not being met or not being met fast enough.

    You can have the Green Party.

    Antinous – I meant that anyone who calls someone a rube, or takes that bait, is playing checkers, and the real world is a chess match.

    1. I meant that anyone who calls someone a rube, or takes that bait, is playing checkers, and the real world is a chess match.

      These are the misunderstandings that result when you mix tentacle porn with politics.

  35. Joseph Campbell made such a point in his last interview with Bill Moyers to say that you can’t hold individuals responsible for acts committed in the throes of war. Something to do with how the self is subsumed by the military machine…

    Living and dying for metaphor. Now that line I remember word for word. Always stuck with me.

  36. My attempt at an Obama/squid/zombie haiku:

    Change we can believe?
    The tentacles won’t let go
    Undying Cheney

    Cheers,
    Sean

  37. Way to subvert a very important discussion, kids!
    The USA is now a military dictatorship.

  38. MDH: Not ome “promise never made”: violation of the Oath of Office, to uphold the Constitution and the values for which it stands.

    The Constitution does not give the US Army the right to torture foreign nationals held in its prisons: nor to suppress evidence of crime.

  39. Indeed, the principle that the “release” of this information (does the Gov own this knowledge, this evidence, this truth?) would/could harm the Armed Forces (how little the “harms” the mighty US Armed Forces feels & squeals about, now-a-days!) serves to suppress ANY ‘negative” information about the Armed Forces whatsoever: particularly ANY evidence of any crime or mal/mis-feasance.
    The US Congress wants the Record to show that the US Armed Forces carrying out the Orders of Congress CANNOT BY DEFINITION do wrong: for any rep[orting of such wrongs would be “bad for the Army’s morale”.

    The USA is now a military dictatorship: only war occupies the attentions and concerns of the leadership class.

    How’s the US domestic policy scene? Perhaps suffering for lack of attention? Maybe a larger defense/police/prison budget would help, along with more tax cuts for unearned income – and harsher prison terms, and far fewer rights for prisoners (especially foreign nationals!) for victimless crimes….now that’s “change” the Generals & Admirals can believe in!!

  40. Was there anyone on the ballot who wasn’t going to screw us like this if elected?

    Ralph Nader, Bob Barr, or Cynthia McKinney would each have published the photos by now, one may assume. (Maybe not Barr.)

  41. It’s actually even worse than it looks here. If you look at the bill, it list the date range from September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009 as being the covered period. However, it goes on to state that photographs taken before, during, AND after the covered period may be suppressed with no possibility for review. I will be very curious to see what, if any, effect this will have on the case being decided by Judge Walker.

  42. I am comfortable enough in my hypocrisy to say that a delay of a few years might not be the worst idea in the world. That’s not right, but it is what it is.

    That would be … “wrong.”

  43. I find it entertaining when people get indignant over promises that were never made either not being met or not being met fast enough.

    Bearing false witness is a sin.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/25/us/politics/24web-prison.html?

    Antinous – I meant that anyone who calls someone a rube, or takes that bait, is playing checkers, and the real world is a chess match.

    MDH seems to mean that somebody, other than him, is “playing checkers.” Which I guess is for rubes. I would agree somebody somewhere is playing chess, but I doubt MDH is among the players moving the pieces.

  44. We should suppress everything that harms the status quo of the American government.

    Like dissent, for instance.

  45. “Was there anyone on the ballot who wasn’t going to screw us like this if elected?”

    Well, there was Cynthia McKinney and Ron Paul.

    (ducks and covers)

  46. Oh, come on now, Ugly Canuck. You think we don’t know this?

    Some of us are doing everything we can… help us! Not on the Internets, in REAL LIFE – when you see the beat down happen, hand your camera phone to somebody and get in there, don’t fight, just resist on camera as they pulverize you. That’s what it takes. To invoke history – we need the non-violent King marchers getting smashed on the tube, or the Panthers and Deacons are just thugs.

  47. What concerns me most about decisions the Obama administration has made about torture prosecution (or the lack thereof), bailouts, etc. is that he has made it extraordinarily difficult for progressives and others who want to repair a badly broken system to succeed at the national level and get elected. For many voters, particularly the younger ones like myself in the 18-30 category, Obama will soon represent a great-but-naive disappointment. We expect a lot from him because rarely in U.S. history has the electorate appeared so willing to change things… We elect a man who promises to do just that but upon his ascendancy to the White House he seems vested in protecting the status quo.

    Whatever the material consequences of this political turn, it has a powerfully negative effect on folks who, perhaps for the first time, got excited about politics/voting and hopeful of a politician. How likely are they do get as excited or hopeful again when a truly progressive candidate comes along and says, “I want to change things for real! Believe me!” I suppose I can only speak for myself, and I’m sure a few holier-than-thou commentators here may take me to task as being gullible for believing Obama would change things (I’m not even sure that I believed, but rather that I wanted to believe), but I am becoming deeply cynical about politics as a result of decisions made by the Obama administration in such a way that does not benefit anyone, and clearly I’m not alone.

  48. I understand the reasoning behind the decision but I disagree with it all the same. I understand that releasing the pictures may make everyone (other countries who already think we’re savage gluttons, Americans disgusted with what’s happened in the last ten years or so, terrorists etc) even more angry at us. But here’s the thing, NOT releasing the pictures will do the same thing but worse. Because when something this awful takes place people need closure, they need to know that the people who did it have been punished, the people who allowed it realize they were wrong and are genuinely sorry and that measures are being taken to make sure it never happens again. Anyone who’s has been a victim of physical, mental or sexual abuse knows what I’m talking about. Until you get closure you will NEVER move on and that anger and hate just festers and grows. The idea that we should just try to move on and look to the future blah blah blah is naive. Is anyone over black slavery? Is anyone over the holocaust? Is anyone over the ‘witch’ trials? No, because they never got justice, they never got closure. It’s like being back in the fifties, getting raped and having your family tell you not to report it, to just move on with your life and keep it a secret. Obama is making a HUGE mistake that will ultimately cause more trouble than releasing the pictures and dealing with the persons involved. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  49. Assume that Obama meant what he said when running for office.

    Assume that he means what he says about releasing the pictures now.

    Occam’s going to tell you that the pictures must be of such utter horror that the btards at 4chan would faint dead away.

    He’s doing us a favor by concealing the abyss that lies at the center of every person’s soul. (abyss NSFW).

  50. TSM SF – i feel you are exactly correct.

    The campaign (Iraq, Afghanistan) was designed shame and therefore to whip up Muslim frenzy and create an enemy to replace the Soviets.

    Releasing the photo’s would be playing into the Cheney crowds hand, letting Cheney et al, run the show well after history has put them in their dustbin.

    Also, renewing the ‘secrecy’ every three years is a damn sight better than locking the photo’s away for 20 years under the presidential secrets act.

    I say let time heal some of the wound before we pour aged salt on the wound.

  51. So what? The pictures are horrible? Like was said above, its not like there is a big market for fresh people who don’t hate us.
    But if Obama releases them he has his hands tied. Everyone on earth will be calling for criminal action. He has to spend his administration prosecuting the one before it. That is not his opinion of a good time.
    Also, he has gone out of his way to invoke Lincoln, forever. Lincoln, when faced with a domestic enemy, suspended free speech and habeus corpus. He dropped them like they were hot. Lets not be super surprised that Obama has every intention of leaving the embiggened power of the executive branch intact.
    I don’t agree, but I grok

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