The Obama administration is withholding hundreds, perhaps even thousands of photographs showing the U.S. government’s brutal treatment of detainees, meaning that revelations about detainee abuse could well continue, possibly compounding the outrage generated by the Senate “torture report” now in the public eye.
Some photos show American troops posing with corpses; others depict U.S. forces holding guns to people’s heads or simulating forced sodomization. All of them could be released to the public, depending on how a federal judge in New York rules—and how hard the government fights to appeal. The government has a Friday deadline to submit to that judge its evidence for why it thinks each individual photograph should continue to be kept hidden away.
The photographs are part of a collection of thousands of images from 203 investigations into detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan and represent one of the last known secret troves of evidence of detainee abuse. While the photos represent disturbing images from the Bush administration’s watch, it is the Obama administration that has allowed them to remain buried—all with the help of a willing Congress.