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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Government Defies Court Order to Release Abu Ghraib Photos/Videos (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Government Defies Court Order to Release Abu Ghraib Photos/Videos
David Ricardo
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The coverup continues as the Bush Administration instructs its lackeys in the Pentagon to defy a court order compelling the Pentagon to release the additional Abu Ghraib photos and videos that have been previously withheld from the public:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/23/politics/23abuse.html?

quote:
Lawyers for the Defense Department are refusing to cooperate with a federal judge's order to release secret photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

The lawyers said in a letter sent to the federal court in Manhattan late Thursday that they would file a sealed brief explaining their reasons for not turning over the material, which they were to have released by yesterday.

The photographs were some of thousands turned over by Specialist Joseph M. Darby, the whistle-blower who exposed the abuse at Abu Ghraib by giving investigators computer disks containing photographs and videos of prisoners being abused, sexually humiliated and threatened with growling dogs.

The small number of the photographs released in spring 2004 provoked international outrage at the American military.

In early June, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of Federal District Court in Manhattan ordered the release of the additional photographs, part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to determine the extent of abuse at American military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The government has turned over more than 60,000 pages of documents on the treatment of detainees, some containing graphic descriptions of mistreatment. But the material that the judge ordered released - the A.C.L.U. says there are 87 photographs and 4 videos - would be the first images released in the suit. The judge said they would be the "best evidence" in the debate about the treatment of Abu Ghraib prisoners.

"There is another dimension to a picture that is of much greater moment and immediacy" than a document, Judge Hellerstein said in court.

He rejected arguments from the government that releasing the photographs would violate the Geneva Conventions because prisoners might be identified and "further humiliated," but he ordered any identifying features to be removed from the images.

In the letter sent Thursday, Sean Lane, an assistant United States attorney, said that the government was withholding the photographs because they "could result in harm to individuals," and that it would outline the reasons in a sealed brief to the court.

The A.C.L.U. accused the government of continuing to stonewall requests for information "of critical public interest."

"The government chose the last possible moment to raise this argument," said Amrit Singh, a staff lawyer with the A.C.L.U.

"Because it is under seal, we don't know whether their reasons are adequate," Ms. Singh said.


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Pelegius
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Were all glad to know that Bush took that part about upholding the Constitution.... And he is the one who gets to apoint our Supreum Court Justices, yeah.

Do you call it civil disobedience when the goverment whose laws they disobey is their own?

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tshaw
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There are three supposedly equal branches of government. When one of them decides to step up to the plate and order one of the others to do something they had better have their ducks in a row.

As Andy Jackson once asked in in a dispute with a supreme court chief justice, "Where is his army to enforce that ruling?" Andy said "No" and made it stick.

There have been many instances in our history in which the president basically told the court to screw off and made it stick.

I hope this is one of them. It does no one but our enemies any good for these pictures to come out. Crimes were committed and the perps have been or are being prosecuted. That's all that's needed.

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Everard
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The problem is, we don't really know if the perps are being prosecuted, and if they are being prosecuted for the correct crimes. This IS a matter of public interest, whether the administration wants it to be or not. And, they are breaking the law by not releasing these documents, since a freedom of information act request was granted for the photos.
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tshaw
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And exactly what do you think more photos from Abu Graib will show? Maybe Don Rumsfeld and all of his generals standing there supervising the whole thing?

The military was investigating this thing months before the pictures came out. If they hadn't come out some people would have been prosecuted and others would have been forced to resign and it would be over.

That would have served the public interest of everyone who wasn't interested in using the photos for their own political gain.

As for the freedom of information act, all the president has to do is write a finding that they are not covered by the act, and guess what, they no longer are.

As far as I'm concerned, it's time the Bush administration started playing hard ball, just like their enemies.

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Everard
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"And exactly what do you think more photos from Abu Graib will show? Maybe Don Rumsfeld and all of his generals standing there supervising the whole thing?"

Possibly whether there was actual torture? Or better evidence of who was involved?

"The military was investigating this thing months before the pictures came out. If they hadn't come out some people would have been prosecuted and others would have been forced to resign and it would be over."

I don't trust our military to do whats right as much as you apparently do. The military royally screws this kind of thing up fairly often, and I don't have confidence that without civilian oversight they'd get it right. Covering up things that would be humiliating if they became public knowledge seems to be the military modus operandi.

"As for the freedom of information act, all the president has to do is write a finding that they are not covered by the act, and guess what, they no longer are."

And yet, that could be brought into question, and the courts could rule on it.

"s far as I'm concerned, it's time the Bush administration started playing hard ball, just like their enemies."

Right. Because outting CIA operatives who are married to the administrations political enemies ISN'T hardball. The bush administration is reaping what its sowed.

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tshaw
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The military has civilian oversight, which is not the same thing as journalist oversight. Journalists have the right to dig up anything they can on just about anyone in or out of government. They don't have the right to have government tell them everything.

The public has the right to know what its government is doing, but there are times when we have to just take their word for it, at least while the information is of a critical nature. You should know by now that nothing stays a secret forever.

Some of our military personnel may have tortured prisoners. If so, they should be arrested and tried for their crimes. That doesn’t mean we need to flash every obscene photo of it to the world. We can clean our house without airing all of our dirty laundry for our enemies to make hay out of.

And by now anyone who doesn’t have his head in the sand, or is so anti Bush that he can’t use a bit of reason, realizes that the whole outing of Valery Plame was a tempest in a teapot, with the democrats and their msm allies doing their best to smear Rove with a story that has no factual base.

It won’t surprise me if the special prosecutor comes out with charges against Wilson and his wife and some news people when everything is said and done.

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Everard
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"And by now anyone who doesn’t have his head in the sand, or is so anti Bush that he can’t use a bit of reason, realizes that the whole outing of Valery Plame was a tempest in a teapot, with the democrats and their msm allies doing their best to smear Rove with a story that has no factual base."

Hrm. I'd argue that the people with their heads in the sand are those arguing rove did nothing wrong. So its apparent to me we're not going to get anywhere with this discussion.

Suffice it to say, I don't trust our military to do right by the civilian populace in terms of how it governs itself. This distrust has been earned, through numerous examples of the military not policing itself up to the standards of the american public. You apparently disagree with that assessment.

"The public has the right to know what its government is doing, but there are times when we have to just take their word for it, at least while the information is of a critical nature."

This information is not critical, in terms of secrecy. In fact, the opposite. We need to publicly show the world we're trying and prosecuting the appropriate people. The government, and military in particular, apparently, don't want to show the world that we're prosecuting the correct people. Perhaps because we aren't, or perhaps because their process wouldn't be considered reasonable. If we don't show the world that we are going after the people responsible, the world is more likely to hold this against us, then if all the crap we're doing comes out a year from now, and it turns out we've been trying to cover it up because we don't want to prosecute certain people.

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Jesse
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"We can clean our house without airing all of our dirty laundry for our enemies to make hay out of."

NEW from Ronco, the metaphor mixer. It slices, it dices, it even chops!!!!

[Smile]

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tshaw
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[Big Grin]
Sometimes an apt metaphor is just too good to pass up.
[Big Grin]

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FIJC
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quote:
"The government, and military in particular, apparently, don't want to show the world that we're prosecuting the correct people. Perhaps because we aren't, or perhaps because their process wouldn't be considered reasonable. If we don't show the world that we are going after the people responsible, the world is more likely to hold this against us, then if all the crap we're doing comes out a year from now, and it turns out we've been trying to cover it up because we don't want to prosecute certain people."
You're sounding awfully shill tonight. Besides, how do you actually know this is the government's (also claim, the military's) intent? You're jumping to a lot of conclusions here...
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Everard
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Well, the military doesn't want to make public information I view, and I think we all SHOULD view, as being in the domain of public interest. I do not trust the military establishment... its ridiculously bad at this sort of stuff, historically. Perhaps my reasons are wrong, and their reasons really DO have to do with national security. I reject that our national security would be endangered by making this public UNLESS the military is screwing up in who its prosecuting and the pictures would show that. So either the military has bad reasons for stonewalling, or is doing a bad job with abu-ghraib (and I'm sure I just spelled that wrong) prosecutions.

I don't like when information that is not classified isn't allowed to be made public, and I don't like when information that shouldn't be classified IS. I like transparency in my government and military. The military doesn't want to be transparent. I think thats reasonable cause for suspicion.


Edit: I also find it interesting you are not also pointing out that tshaw is being rather shill. No political partisanship there, eh, fijc?

[ July 24, 2005, 10:38 PM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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David Ricardo
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Let's put the torture apologist talking points in perspective here.

First, they argue that no real torture occurred and the supposed abuse was nothing more than glorified frat hazing.

Then a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit now compels the government to be transparent about the process and show the American public and the world that no real torture occurred -- to let the facts speak for themselves.

Second, the torture apologists argue that -- even though no real torture even occurred -- it is paramount to the country's national interest to cover up those "glorified frat hazings" from the sensitive eye of the American public.

So which is it? If there was no real torture going on, then why do the torture apologists have to fight tooth and nail from letting the American public see for themselves how ridiculously innocent those "glorified frat hazings" were? The American public is not stupid -- they can judge for themselves if you let them see the pictures for themselves.

Or if covering up the pictures is so paramount to American national security and revealing those pictures to the average American would be unpatriotic, then what is so dangerous about those "glorified frat hazings" that we have to guard them from the eye of the American public?

Conclusion: Torture apologists realize that the torture was real, and they are desperately attacking the American public's right to transparency in a blatant attempt to prevent the American public from seeing the truth for themselves. Otherwise, those same people who reiterate over and over again that only "glorified frat hazing" occurred -- should have been the first people to call for the public release of such photos to prove the Administration critics wrong.

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Sancselfieme
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The best thing to gain any sort of closure for the travesty that is Abu Graibh is to have total transparency. By disobeying these court orders the Bush admin. is giving the insurgents recruitment fodder to show more dissenfranchised Iraqis. Sure, it might be the same way if the photos were released, but not for as long, and it wouldn't be as bad as open defiance of our internal legal system and public deception.

[ July 25, 2005, 02:45 AM: Message edited by: Sancselfieme ]

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Adam Lassek
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quote:
First, they argue that no real torture occurred and the supposed abuse was nothing more than glorified frat hazing.
Well, that's just spin. The "frat hazing" comment was first made by Rush Limbaugh when the Abu Ghraib issue first made news, and the only publically available pictures were little worse than frat hazing. He since rescinded that comment when the more abusive photos were made public.

Damn you for making me defend Limbaugh, by the way.

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TomDavidson
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quote:

He since rescinded that comment when the more abusive photos were made public.

Do you think that even more abusive photos are out there which would make it even harder for people to bury their heads in the sand on this issue?
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kenmeer livermaile
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Wishful Thoughts:

1) Our government has nothing evil to hide.

2) But if it does, it only has evil things to hide from its foreign enemies, not from its citizens.

3) The government is always a friend to its citizens, who are never its enemies.

4) But when citizens are the government's enemies, it is the citizen's faults, not the governement's fault, because

5) The government is always our friend.

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tshaw
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quote:
1) Our government has nothing evil to hide.
Of course it has evil to hide, as do you and I and every person or institution that ever existed or ever will.

quote:
2) But if it does, it only has evil things to hide from its foreign enemies, not from its citizens.
We live in an evil world, and sometimes our government must do evil things to protect us from others who would do us worse evil. To show the evil we sometimes do to our enemies will not help us, it will only strengthen our enemies. Most citizens understand that those who would do us harm must sometimes be treated harshly. But just because they know it is being done doesn’t mean they want their faces rubbed in it. What real purpose would that have?

Most of us defecate every day. It smells bad, looks gross, but it is necessary to our survival. Do we rub our finger in it, smell it, taste it? Of course not. We flush it down the toilet. It’s the same with some of the things the government has to do to try to protect us. In a perfect world our **** wouldn’t stink, and there would be no one trying to harm us that the government has to treat less than kindly.

quote:
3) The government is always a friend to its citizens, who are never its enemies.

4) But when citizens are the government's enemies, it is the citizen's faults, not the government's fault, because

5) The government is always our friend.

The government is not always our friend. Most of us come into conflict with some branch of the government at one time or another. Sometimes we are right and sometimes the government is right.

You don’t trust the military. Let’s disband it. Surely we can do without such a loathsome organization. Heck, they kill people!! If we had never organized a military in the first place maybe we could still be British subjects. If we had disbanded it like we should have in the 1850s we could be a group of squabbling, Baltic like countries that never made it west of the Mississippi. Or if we had junked it in the 1930s maybe we could let the fatherland or our Japanese overseers handle the problems of the world.

We should have been wise enough in the 1960s to get rid of the military, then Vietnam would never have taken place, and we could be good comrades with our great leaders in Moscow.

NO this government is not perfect, far from it. But which one would you rather live under? Have the secret police come knocking at your door when you have slammed the government or the president in one of your posts here? Do you personally know someone who has had his rights violated by the government? If you’re like probably 99% of the people in the US the answer is No, you have never had your rights violated nor do you know anyone personally who has.

Do you have evidence that there is a government conspiracy to take away all of our rights and turn us into a nation of slaves? Do you have evidence that there is a government conspiracy to take over the world and turn them into a world of slaves? Do you really believe the government has a plan to take over all of the oil fields in the world and then squander all the oil while increasing global warming to ultimately turn the world into a post apocalyptic hell?

No? Then what are you complaining about?

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Funean
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quote:
No? Then what are you complaining about?
My kids are, on the whole, pretty well behaved, and display decent judgement for their ages.

By your reasoning, tshaw, since they aren't monsters now, my work here is done. I can simply assume that having been given this good start, and by displaying some implementation of the principles I hoped to instill, they will grow up to be fine and worthy adults with no further interference from me.

Fantastic news! Now I can quit worrying and get back to shopping and doing my nails full time.

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Everard
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Hrm.
Funean, will you marry me?

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Jesse
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Expecting accountability from government = Fecophagia.

wow.

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TomDavidson
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quote:

NO this government is not perfect, far from it. But which one would you rather live under? Have the secret police come knocking at your door when you have slammed the government or the president in one of your posts here?

This is presented as a dichotomy -- and, more interestingly, an exclusive dichotomy, on the assumption that a government capable of protecting itself from a dictatorship cannot itself become a dictatorship. Why?
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Daruma28
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quote:
NO this government is not perfect, far from it. But which one would you rather live under?
I'll go with Churchill here...

"Democracy is the worst form of government...except for all the others."

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Digger
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Just to clear this up, from the NYT Corrections Page:

quote:
An article on Saturday about a federal judge's order regarding photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal misstated a deadline and the response by Defense Department lawyers. The government was given until Friday to black out some identifying details in the material, not to release it. Defense Department lawyers met that deadline, but asked the court to block the public release of the materials. They did not refuse to cooperate with an order for the materials' release.
Edited to bold pertinent sentence.

[ July 26, 2005, 02:35 PM: Message edited by: Digger ]

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FIJC
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Thanks for mentioning that important correction. FOIA has 9 exemptions and the DoD is working within these guidelines, I am sure. [Smile]
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FIJC
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That was a serious factual mistake on the part of the NYT. I think that they owe a front-page apology to the DoD.
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The Drake
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So, as usual, the press didn't do the legwork to get the story right. Why am I not surprised?
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FIJC
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Really, all they had to do was ask.
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Digger
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I never got too involved in this particular story, I only posted the correction after seeing it mentioned on a blog I read. But, this reiterates a thought I've had for a while. In theory, the press should regulate itself when these kinds of errors occur, but that rarely happens. In this case, I'm willing to cut the Times some slack - a reporter misinterpreted what was probably a relatively arcane exchange in a courtroom and published the account without fully checking out the facts. Bad reporting, but understandable how it could occur.

Seeing as this error changed the entire substance of the story, however, I would have hoped that either the Times would have made a more prominent correction, or that other media outlets would have corrected the story. Running a minor correction item is tantamount to a coverup on the part of the Times. Few would have ever known that this story was inherently false had it not been for the bloggers. Who watches the watchmen? The bloggers - who are all watching each other as well...

[ July 26, 2005, 02:46 PM: Message edited by: Digger ]

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FIJC
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quote:
"Few would have ever known that this story was inherently false had it not been for the bloggers. Who watches the watchmen? The bloggers - who are all watching each other as well..."
Folks working on this case of course knew the reporting wrong, but you can only beat your head against the wall so many times in a day...
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The Drake
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An obscure detail? Well, you should at least fact-check your headline, first sentence and major theme of your story, I think.

"Government defies an order..."

"Lawyers for the Defense Department are refusing to cooperate with a federal judge's order"

Kate did a bad job.

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TomDavidson
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How does what we're talking about here jibe with the link below?

http://www.ccr-ny.org/v2/reports/report.asp?ObjID=imOUU2rj8m&Content=608

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Digger
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Unless I'm misinterpreting the article you linked to, here's where it's mentioned in the correction:
quote:
An article on Saturday about a federal judge's order regarding photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal misstated a deadline and the response by Defense Department lawyers. The government was given until Friday to black out some identifying details in the material, not to release it. Defense Department lawyers met that deadline, but asked the court to block the public release of the materials. They did not refuse to cooperate with an order for the materials' release.
My understanding is that there are a number of exeptions to FOI requests and it appears the government is seeking one. From your article:
quote:
They were given until today to produce the images, but at the eleventh hour filed a motion to oppose the release of the photos and videos, based on an entirely new argument: they are now requesting a 7(F) exemption from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act to withhold law enforcement-related information in order to protect the physical safety of individuals.
Whatever the timing of the request from the DoD attorneys, it's now in the judge's hands to decide whether the exemption applies. Since I didn't go to law school, I'll go along with whatever the judge says on the matter as being appropriate.

[ July 27, 2005, 10:09 AM: Message edited by: Digger ]

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Pelegius
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So much for transparancy. What are they trying to hide? Obviously, something that will embaress them. Since when has it been the policy of Courts to keep the goverment from being embaressed?
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FIJC
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Access to government documents is not some sort of unalienable right enumerated in the US Constitution. FOIA is not an all-encompassing, all-surpassing law that Congress, the press, and the ordinary citizen have over government documents. There are valid exemptions to FOIA. If you haven't, I suggest you read up on the history of FOIA and the exemptions contained therein. Until you know what exemptions and rationale the government is claiming in this case, the speculation on this thread is exactly just that.
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The Drake
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If these materials show soldiers who have NOT been charged, then we need to see them as part of necessary oversight.

If they merely point out more bad acts by soldiers who are being punished, it is dangerously inflammatory for no good purpose.

This is obviously only my own opinion. Others might say we need to see every last graphic detail of every transgression.

It is impossible to have an informed opinion without knowing what's in there - and that's the catch. We don't know if they're trying to hide real corruption, embarassment, or information that truly puts Americans at risk.

What if one of the pictures showed Lynndie England squatting over a Qu'ran and urinating on it? Nothing would be served by showing it - she's done far worse that's already documented.

One issue is that the government often seems to fight documents that turn out to be in the first or second categories.

So, I have no trust in the government, and also no trust in the press.

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Everard
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"f they merely point out more bad acts by soldiers who are being punished, it is dangerously inflammatory for no good purpose."

Unless those acts do cross the line into acts that would be covered by the geneva convention.

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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
"f they merely point out more bad acts by soldiers who are being punished, it is dangerously inflammatory for no good purpose."

Unless those acts do cross the line into acts that would be covered by the geneva convention.

Is that possible?
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Everard
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Are you arguing that we are not bound by geneva, that you trust our soldiers so much that you don't think they'd ever violate geneva, or something else?
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javelin
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I'm saying that from what I've heard argued, we aren't legally bound by the geneva conventions in most cases. I'm not all that trusting, I think you'll find.
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