Thursday, May 14, 2009

An Opaque Decision About 'Transparency"

The White House reversal of its position concerning the release of 44 photographs allegedly depicting the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan is puzzling and misguided. The Obama Administration contends that publication of the photos would "inflame the theaters of war" and jeopardize U.S. forces. Advocates favoring publication argue that the American public is entitled to be informed and educated about past U.S. policy that President Obama has rebuked, and that such disclosure is necessary to restore the nation's moral credibility on the World stage. The photos were supposed to be released on or before May 28. A lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union yielded a court order to the Dept. of Defense to release the purportedly graphic images almost three years ago that was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.. Disclosure of the photos, painful as it may be, would be consistent with President Obama's promise of "transparency" in his Administration's governance, and would reinforce the underlying purpose of the Freedom of Information Act. To keep the photos, and by extension, military and foreign policy shrouded in secrecy, would not deter such alleged abuses in the future through accountability and dangerously evokes the "too big to fail" philosophy underlying the Administration's policy toward the financial crisis. If President Obama can channel Constituional Law Professor Obama, then someday our prints will come.

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