Is there a limit to transparency?

prisoner abuseHe promised transparency,  but for many President Obama’s decision not to release photographs documenting the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan by US military personnel has gone against the pledges of his campaign trail . He fears a serious backlash against American troops despite saying only last month that he would not oppose the release of the photos.  Has he done the right thing? Or is there a limit to transparency?

The left are livid at  President Obama for attemping to cover up the attrocities of the Bush campaign. “This may be the most Bushian thing Obama has done ….I think it betrays a naivete about what the Iraqis already know about detainee abuse” said one blogger.

“The troops can’t be used as a fig leaf to break a promise”  is the view at TPM Cafe. And this article feels that the President is just playing a political game, attempting to minimize damage with the Muslim world just before his trip the Egypt this month.

But the President is not without support.

“Torture is torture” blogs Nick Sloan – we know it happened so why do we need more photos? Haven’t the staff involved already been punished? And according to Judith Miller, some photos are not worth a thousand words.

By not releasing the photos, has he not just increased the curiousity surrounding them? Has the President just added to the propoganda value of the images ?

141 Responses to “Is there a limit to transparency?”

  1. 1 Crispo
    May 14, 2009 at 12:35

    Am equally dismayed that President Obama had to rescind his previous stance on the torture images release. Given his many promises of transparency to the American people in his gov’t I look at it as a failure.

    Two things emerge from the president’s action to me:
    1. That he may have acted in the best interests of the American people and, as he put it, ‘…to stop anti-American semitism…’ He may be right, but we do not know yet.
    2. That the President’s latest decision may have been influenced by high ranking military officer who may well want to save their skin from the on-slaught that may have resulted as a result of this had it proceeded.

    The most important thing though is, those who looked at the President as a paragon of decency in politics ought to know that all politicians are capable of the usual dirty tactics whether in Africa, Asia, Europe, or USA. Remember that power corrupts too, so President Obama is no different, only fair for now. We may yet be judging him more harshly.

  2. 2 John D. Augustine - WI USA
    May 14, 2009 at 12:54

    I wouldn’t say that any limit has been posed on transparency. Obama has made his position very clear. He has studied these photos, and found that they contain no new information. The freedom to refocus attention on that which is already known should not take priority over the the damage such refocusing of attention might cause.

    I concur. I believe it is more important to continue the focus on information which has yet to be made visible. The problem is not a limitation of transparency, but the volume of data which may be passed through the looking glass at any one time.

  3. 3 Patti in Cape Coral
    May 14, 2009 at 12:56

    This isn’t a big issue for me, nobody is denying what happened or that these photographs don’t exist. If there were a coverup, and later these photographs surfaced, as happened with the Bush administration, it would be a different thing altogether. I think it’s a sensitive time diplomatically right now for the country, and so far, I agree with not showing these photos AT THIS TIME.

  4. May 14, 2009 at 12:58

    i think generally there is no limit in transparency but in several rare conitions that build danger on the country or persons..

  5. 5 steve
    May 14, 2009 at 13:27

    Wow this change is so much like the same, gee, could Obama be like all other politicians and be a liar???

  6. May 14, 2009 at 13:42

    Knight on a lame horse, Obama is ill-prepared for the challenges ahead. The US Administration is concentrating on AFPAK, but Iran is still part of the problem.
    Stories of atrocities, torture and imprisonment abound in every war, but that doesn’t mean that NATO, US and EU should relinquish the fight against the Taliban and Islamic terrorists.
    Nothing has been solved in the first hundred days taht Obama has been in power. Nothing will be solved in the next thousand days unless Obama comes to grip with reality.
    The situation in Pakistan has deteriorated, so also the bloody conflict in Sri Lanka. Sporadic fighting has broken out in Chad, DR Congo and Somalia. The Pope is doing a better job as peace maker. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Obama must first finish the job in AFPAK and Iran, then worry about releasing snapshots.

  7. May 14, 2009 at 14:14

    Let Soetoro/Obama practice what he preaches and at long last be transparent with the American people who demand to see his long form birth certificate he has kept suppressed for too long. It definitely appears the man is a fraud and a foreigner – not a natural born citizen as our Constitution requires.

  8. 9 Barbara in Ft. Myers
    May 14, 2009 at 14:24

    I think the real issue is when will we as US citizens (and perhaps even citizens of the world) be able to trust a US president and his/her ability to make sound decision. It took 8 years to destroy our ability to trust the President and now, somewhat like abused children, we have trouble trusting the President. I for one admire a leader who, given additional information, is capable and wiling to make a different choice. Let’s give Pres. Obama a break and move on to another issue, Ros.

  9. 10 rgundapa
    May 14, 2009 at 14:25

    Whatever Obama does with the pictures, his actions would not provide any repreive to americans on Iraq and Afghanistan. Sooner or later, these pictures will come out, probably on the internet, rendering Obama’s actions funny…

  10. 11 Tony from Singapura
    May 14, 2009 at 14:37

    He has been voted in, he is highly competant, let us leave him to do the job.

    We all know the torture happend, for some it was har d to accept and no doubt some innocents recieved torture, but it may also have save innocent American lives.

    So lets put this issue behind us and not drag it through the mud. There are more important issue sto deal with… like the economy for example

  11. 12 Jennifer
    May 14, 2009 at 14:39

    I am glad that he flip-flopped on his word so that our soldiers will not be at increased risk of being hurt and the U.S. won’t be hated more than we already are. I hope he sees that it is not always easy to make decisions as President…

    I only wish that people who support him would see that Obama is the President now; stop using Bush as a crutch!

  12. 13 Nelson
    May 14, 2009 at 14:48

    I think this is a sensitive matter and the president is really right, the publishing of such photos wouldn’t do any good apart from causing outrage against the U.S soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, hence making their already difficult mission and uphill task .
    So i really think that in this case there should be a limit to transparency. We cant let the deeds of a few people ruin the whole institution.

  13. May 14, 2009 at 15:02

    James from Kenya

    Ros, Obama has done the credible thing, had he released the photos they would have stirred up raw emotions especially in the volatile Middle East. Lets just know they exist but not see them otherwise releasing them would just bring more violent deaths to innocent people due to the anger they would cause. Kinda like the cartoon issues do to the islamic world.

  14. 15 Chedondo, Johannesburg
    May 14, 2009 at 15:04

    Presdient Obama promised transaparency and he has delivered on that promise. There is a difference between being transparent and being reckless. He has explained his reasons for changing his mind and I believe him. His mandate was to change Bush era policies and not to endanger the escurity of the country he leads, and this includes making sure his actions do not harm his soldiers. His decision is ‘not to publish the pictures AT THIS TIME’ – emphsis mine – and not to pevent their pblication forever.

    There is nothing wrong with a leader changing his mind in the face of new evidence or advice. A leader makes rational decisions – not prophecies. One of George W Bush’s greatest weaknesses was his inability to change (or revise) his mind in the face of facts.

  15. 16 Jim Newman
    May 14, 2009 at 15:05

    Hello again
    It’s still raining. Of course there is a limit to transparency. It’s when those in power have something to hide.
    The photographs should be kept and used in evidence against those in command who ordered or allowed these crimes to be committed.
    The Nurenberg trials were supposed to have kicked civilisation and humanity into a higher gear, it doesn’t seem to have worked.
    The same horrible crimes are being committed for the same pathetic reasons. And the world looks on mesmerised, offering an occasional unsevere criticism. Brutality and cowardice walk hand in hand triumphant.
    Obama may have started off good but he has become tainted by the evil of the corporate state.

  16. 17 Rashid Patch
    May 14, 2009 at 15:20

    You wrote: Obama has blown it badly on this. By flip-flopping on his claim to “transparency”, he is seriously disappointing his support base, while the Right continues to escalate their attacks on him in the corporate media.

    If the pictures were released, yes, people in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere would have negative attitudes towards the U.S.; but hey already have those attitudes, and will continue to hold them until the U.S. gets its’ troops out of their countries. More pictures like those from Abu Ghraib will not do any worse than air strikes killing hundreds of civilians.

    If the pictures had been released, the Right media would have frothed at how it negatively affected the image of America; but now, they will skewer Obama for lying about transparency. It would have been far better for Obama to have been vilified for telling the truth.

    Underlying all this, release of the pictures has been suppressed to reduce the public pressure from those calling for criminal prosecutions of torture. The release of the photos may be forced by court action anyway; in that case, Obama can appease the Right critics by saying, “well, I tried to stop it, but it’s the law…” It may possibly be that Obama has planned this; but he will gain less from appeasing the Right, than he will lose from his civil-libertarian support base, who are greatly offended by his reverse on openness and transparency.

  17. 18 Jonathan (dazzling San Francisco)
    May 14, 2009 at 15:22

    Obama can’t have it both ways–if the pictures are really “not sensational,” why then would worry that they might “inflame public opinion against the US?” This doubletalk and contorted logic sounds all too familiar.

    We needn’t consider risk, benefit, or aesthetics. This release is required by a court order. I suspect that this reluctance is political posturing, and that the President will obey the law when his hand is forced.

    San Francisco

  18. 19 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    May 14, 2009 at 15:30

    HI WHYSers!
    This is intrigueing news. It speaks clearly to America’s difficulty in managing the war effort in Iraq. Which makes you wonder which is the lesser of evil – invading Iraq with questionable justification and the subsequent pull out, or releasing photographs that may likely fuel further anti-US sentiments in the ‘Arab World’. This especially ahead of President Obama’s planned address in Egypt next month (?).

  19. 20 John D. Augustine - WI USA
    May 14, 2009 at 15:34

    …To answer your final question, the President may hold claim to “the bully pulpit,” but he apparently does not control the volume, even when it is his stated objective to “speak softly” of that which has already been said.

    In short: It is not the President, but the media which continues to increase the propaganda value of this story.

  20. 21 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    May 14, 2009 at 15:37

    President Obama made an intelligent and pragmatic decision. That’s why I was for his candidacy, and if he keeps it up, that’s why I will vote for him in 2012.

  21. 22 Tom K in Mpls
    May 14, 2009 at 15:41

    The original promise was nothing but naivete. It played on mindless, righteous indignation against the fascism, that Bush was building. But the truth is, while we must stop illegal activity by our leaders, they must be trusted to a great degree in the short term if they are to do their jobs.

    Up until WW2, the press could be trusted to show sense and restraint. They were commonly attached to military units on sensitive missions without fear of comprising security. Now they press will readily give out anything they find regardless of the consequences and they get the public riled up to support them. We need to either restore the responsibility of the press or create a credible civil organization that governments can trust. Their job would be to ‘see’ secret or otherwise sensitive events and documentation and record them responsibly. Then they would let us know, when appropriate, that things are right or need legal action without compromising proper security. Currently in the US, congressional watchdog groups have been inadequate.

    To end this Obama realized sometimes more info can hurt. Assuming, very believably, that he is not lying.

    May 14, 2009 at 15:47

    There is nothing wrong with this. The country can do with a little privacy bearing in mind that it cannot undo what is already done. In addition to that, we have to remember that it surely can not be 100 days forever.
    On President Obama himself, he is now a club member of the new and old people in the administration and he has to give an ear to every side unlike in the campaign trail. More exposure and experience is bound to change him from what we thought he was. This issue at hand; dirty as it is concerns the US Military in which he is the commander in chief. He is one of them and there fore he has not option but to take in account their interests. Further more military is about royalty to the force and saving each other.

    It is the high time we too should shed the ferver of the campaign since what we have now is not a novice in officialdom. Some decisions are hard to implement and whether you are talking about government or normal business, a measure of secrecy is important for damage control.
    We still do not know the final make up of Obama. Its too early and he is continously being changed by experience in the office. There will be more tougher challenges for him at home and abroad in times ahead and this too may change our perception of the man himself to the good or bad. Right now we want everything, but should remember that in most cases there are no guarantees.

  23. May 14, 2009 at 15:48

    Obama and his administration are as transparent as a brick wall.
    There should never be limit to transparency in government.
    This man is just another joke like the last one. Transparency is a very very good idea, but unfortunately a good idea curse in this country.
    We will never have a truly transparent government in America. Our President would not want the general public in this country to REALY know what they are up to. There would be a revolution before before the end of the day.

      May 14, 2009 at 18:02

      Though we want a peoples president, there should be a distinction between the government and the public. Too much sway to the public side will surely result in a mobe rule and people might decide to take the law into their own hands. The sanctity of government can not be maintained on publicity basis all the time. This might hamper the effectiveness and confidence of investigaters and implementers of policy. We must trust the executive and the judiciary and give them a wide berth for carrying out their duties. After all, we trust them and that is why we have allowed them to be in office.
      It is not important for us to dig in each nitty gritty but rather whether the laws have been followed whenever breaches of contract have been made.
      We should also take note that we expect sometimes too much out of a government than is realistic. I have observed that, these days there is hardly anybody measuring up to the expectations of masses in most places in the world. This is a problem in that we might lose sight of good leaders though there could be genuine reasons.
      It is good to have so many changes of leadership or how the country is governed as much as the public want but one has to ask whether it is wise all the time to do so. Once again this president is still very new to us. We hardly know him that well enough to start passing judgment on him at this stage.

      Lets remember too that when he fails, America fails. Where he wins, America wins.

  24. 26 John D. Augustine - WI USA
    May 14, 2009 at 15:48

    …To answer your final question, the President can set the agenda for debate, but he doesn’t have any power to silence it, even when it is his stated objective to downplay that which has already been said.

    In short: It is not the President, but the media which continues to increase the “propaganda value” of this story.

  25. 27 deryck/trinidad
    May 14, 2009 at 15:51

    I think the president has reneged on his promise of transparency and a man is only as good as his word and action, therefore despite the negative repercussions that might result, he should be honourable enough to do what he has promised. Actually I see the release of the photos as a great opportunity for Mr Obama and the American people to apologise even further and pursue positive and reconciliatory discussions with the muslim and arab world. Mr Obama can take this situation and truly engender peace and trust based on the powerful fact that his motive and actions are transparent and that he seems to deeply care about relations with the muslim and arab world .

  26. May 14, 2009 at 15:56

    Hey I don’t see why and how releasing those pictures negate the promised transparency so long as investigators and lawyers involved are allowed to view them. There is such a thing as transparency which may have been promised, but there is another thing as protecting the soldiers which is the President (and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces’) responsibility.
    Besides, why do we as the public want to see these pictures? If our position is that we abhor the abuse those soldiers did, then we should not seek to popularise their crimes by allowing access to these pictures. Publishing these pictures can only breed more hatred against the American soldiers and Americans as a nation.
    These soldiers that tortured must have erred, but they did so while trying to do a good job or what they thought was a good job, don’t pick on them; pick on the ones who sent them.

  27. 29 steve
    May 14, 2009 at 15:59

    Obviously there’s a limit, Obama hasn’t revealed what’s in Area 51 yet either!

  28. 30 Calvin F Lampkin
    May 14, 2009 at 16:13

    If the President and his team assess that release of these photographs could lead to loss of soldiers’ lives in Iraq, I would find his change of heart justifiable.
    I would prefer to hear, however, that the release is only deferred to a date after their combat troops leave Iraq

  29. 31 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala,Uganda
    May 14, 2009 at 16:34

    Those who oppose Obamaism on this matter are enemy of both Iraq and Afganistan.Adding fuel to a fire will not be a solutions at this stage, why can we just wait and see what will president Obama next steps be.

  30. 32 globalcomedy
    May 14, 2009 at 16:41

    The longer he delays disclosing everything and prosecuting those responsible for torture, the worse it will be. Frankly, it’s a joke that everyone knows that torture happened. But nobody will actually say “torture.” If you don’t say it, does that mean that magically it didn’t happen and life is wonderful?

    I’m disappointed in Obama. And, the millions of others who say they’re angry about this But refuse to act.

  31. 33 Anthony
    May 14, 2009 at 16:45

    We all know what happened, why do we need to see the pictures? All we need is these pictures passed around the middle east to create more hate. I mean, what if they had pictures of that one Marine raping those women, should we show those too? We all know that service men get there heads blown off over there, should we release pictures of those too? Where do we stop?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  32. 34 Anthony
    May 14, 2009 at 16:48

    @ steve & area 51

    There are some things that we can’t let out to protect the future of America.

    That whole thing about area 51 is fake anyways. It’s just a cover up. Now AREA 52!!! That’s where the crazy stuff is!!!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  33. 35 deryck/trinidad
    May 14, 2009 at 17:07

    Of course there is a limit to transparency, only those with the power, money and polical sway decide what should be transparent and what shouldn’t be.

  34. 36 deryck/trinidad
    May 14, 2009 at 17:09

    i believe that when these photos were viewed that some disturbing things were seen, hence the about turn of the Obama administration.

  35. 37 Patti in Cape Coral
    May 14, 2009 at 17:15

    Oh man, I forgot about area 51, I wish they would disclose what that’s all about, even if it’s just to say it was fake, but if they say it was fake, do we believe it…

  36. 38 deryck/trinidad
    May 14, 2009 at 17:26

    I reiterate this is a magnificent juncture fo the American people and Mr Obama to come clean especially with his impending journey to Egypt. He will gain much repect and trust.

  37. May 14, 2009 at 17:36

    It is regretable the practice of torture to gain important information which is much needed to combat insurgents or terrorists in order to defeat them is by no means something new. A war against enimies requires information to be had in order to protect and defeat the enemy. This practice of torture however disgusting has been going on for thousands of years and is nothing new. Every country in the world is guilty of toruring prisoners to obtain information.
    However to torture and try to gain information from someone who may be innocent is to commit a criminal act, it is diabolical, inhumane and disgusting.
    The question of photographs showing people being tortured to gain information is shamefull, it would have been better if these photographs were never shown, as to the many other photographs, better they are not shown at all.
    People should realise that terrorists are the scum of the earth for they do not show any mercy or decency when they carry out their activities.
    War is war and any and every means must be taken to defeat an enemy is justified.

  38. 40 rgundapa
    May 14, 2009 at 17:36

    On personality basis I always considered Obama a better soul than Bush jr, the joker. But I am getting increasingly concerned about not getting any signals confirming the leadership value I hoped from Mr. Obama. Should I call him President Obama as any other american? I am utterly disappointed of him so far. Sorry mr. Obama, You proved to be a nice soul already, but not a powerful and result-oriented leader. Look for results, not rhetoric – my advice to you.

  39. May 14, 2009 at 17:40

    Transparency is vital in a democracy. However in certain exceptional circumstances there needs to be careful judgement especially when a nation’s security is in jeopardy. So one can understand President Obama’s concern that military intelligence could be compromised or the military could lose vital support if the photos were released for publication : in this case the photos could unleash further hatred towards American servicemen by Iraqis if too much information was divulged. Hence the President’s turnaround.

  40. 42 Evan in Hillsboro, or
    May 14, 2009 at 17:42

    The president’s decision is based on the fact that these photographs don’t tell us anything we don’t already know. The only effect they would have would be to enrage the people further upon seeing them. Those people directly responsible for the abuses at Abu Graihb have already been dealt with, some still in prison. We already know what went on there, and we have no need to see more colorful photos of people being degraded or abused. Those tortured in other venues are now our primary concern.

  41. 43 archibald in oregon
    May 14, 2009 at 17:43

    I never expected Obama to be able to follow through with every campaign promise. The reversal of decision to release those photographs represents another compromise which seems necessary to achieve peace internally and attempt to win the war at the same time, a somewhat oxymoronic task. If the truth weren’t such a hard pill for this country to swallow, this hair splitting would be unnecessary.
    The aftermath of the Bush administration has left a huge mess on every front imaginable. Those who claim that Obama is using Bush as a crutch might take note of the fact that Obama walked into the oval office on two good legs, only to be hobbled by unimaginable disfunction. Bottom line, Obama was not responsible for the orders to use torture, nor did the mistreatment of detainees happen on his watch.

  42. 44 Sofia
    May 14, 2009 at 17:56

    President Obama is caught in an ethical dilemma. I believe he has every intention to ensure integrity in local and international relations, however, this will almost certainly be impossible to achieve because the politics of governance is innately corrupt. You can not possibly divulge every bit of detail re the politics of governance.

  43. May 14, 2009 at 18:06

    This is absolutely the wrong decision. There’s no shortage of evidence that under the Bush administration the US engaged in illegal activities, and that those activities were authorised at the highest levels of government.

    Clear the air. Open the windows and let the sunlight of truth banish the shadows and darkness. Show the world that we’re doing it different, that we’re doing it better, that we’re facing down the demons of our past.

    As an American who voted for Obama and who watched, rapt and hopeful, as he was sworn in, I’m extremely disappointed with this decision

  44. 46 Bob in Oregon
    May 14, 2009 at 18:06

    Please be very clear…. Has President Obama said he is not in support of releasing these photos *ever*, or simply not at this time – in other words, delaying the release a while longer until after American troops are out of Iraq and the situation in Afghanistan may be somewhat more secure?

  45. 47 Hezbon Mogambi
    May 14, 2009 at 18:08

    A good decision by Mr. Obama,Photographs have an advantage over a thousand words.I remember seeing the overwhelming response the pictures of famine in Ethiopia by the Late Kenyan photo Journalist Mohamed Amin got…(I studied at his school through a scholarship from the BBC)

    many people all over the world have heard about the war in Iraq but we have not seen it!!!

    Hezbon Mogambi
    Kenyan in New york

  46. 48 Tom K in Mpls
    May 14, 2009 at 18:09

    Ros adds fuel to the weak embers! He wants to know how this different the situation would have been if Bush had done this. well, he did. He first tried to deny, then down play it and then was forced to have it investigated. His loss of credibility started when his jokes about not finding any WMDs in Iraq came just short of knowing admitting he knew there weren’t ant to start with.

    Regardless of their flaws and your opinion of these two, I think everyone can agree that they are very different people.

    • 49 Tom K in Mpls
      May 14, 2009 at 18:18

      Do not publish!

      I can’t believe how bad my typing and proofreading was. Thanks Ros, for smoothing it on the air!

  47. 50 Tom D Ford
    May 14, 2009 at 18:10

    The US should sign back up with the ICC, International Criminal Court, and give them any and all evidence of the Crimes that Cheney/Bush and their administration committed, and comply with any and all orders to extradite Bush/Cheney and their administration to the ICC.

    We The People of the US need to clean our house and rejoin the world in living by the Rule of Law and Justice.

    Our Greatest Generation tried people at Nuremberg and either sentenced them to life without parole or dropped them through the scaffold for the types of Crimes that Cheney/Bush committed.

  48. 51 Kurt in Oregon
    May 14, 2009 at 18:11

    I’m glad Obama made the decision he did. We all know terrible things happened, why do we need to see pictures. People that like to look at pictures of torture are of questionable morals themselves.

  49. 52 Dave in Florida
    May 14, 2009 at 18:11

    It’s bad enough that the torture took place — but to take photos of it happening…? Someone is going to have to explain to me the thinking used in allowing these photos to be taken in the first place.

  50. 53 steve
    May 14, 2009 at 18:13

    Do we need to see pictures of child pornography to understand the full horribleness of it, or is a description good enough? Why is this situation any different?

  51. 54 Dan Turner
    May 14, 2009 at 18:13

    I voted for Barack Obama because he would value pragmatism over ideology; something we have had in reverse the previous eight years.

    Although I do want to see the photographs released, I understand the pragmatic reasons that he is fighting the release, even if I disagree with it.

    As to whether it would be different if Bush did the same: this is Bush’s mess that Obama is cleaning up.

    In the end, the best thing would be for the photographs to be released so America can say “This is wrong, we will punish those involved, and make amends.” This will be the only way to move forward.

  52. 55 Jonathan (dazzling San Francisco)
    May 14, 2009 at 18:14

    It’s inaccurate to say it’s “the left” who objects to this course. I am not “left” by any measure. I do think the President must obey the law. That means releasing these photos, and it means prosecuting the last President.

    The shame is in the practice of torture, not the photographs. What will be the effect on world opinion? The world will see a country admitting its errors and reoccupying the moral high ground. We must do the right thing at long last. Public relations will take care of itself.

    What would I think if George Bush had made this decision? George Bush DID “make this decision!” He authorized torture, he concealed it, he lied about it. What can you possibly mean, Ros?

    San Francisco

  53. 56 gmhorton
    May 14, 2009 at 18:14

    I trust Obama. If this were Bush, I’d be pushing for the release of the photos, concerned at what he would be hiding. But we’ve elected a President who has pledged to make sound, comprehensive and intelligent decisions –I believe he is succeeding, and want to believe he will continue doing so. So, yes, I trust this decision.

  54. 57 Scott [M]
    May 14, 2009 at 18:15


    It’s a calculated and boring mistake. Release the photos Mr. Obama! Isn’t this what America fights for, freedom of information, transparency and democracy. Oh, I forgot it is the troops, gosh forbid we see what so many of these sacred cows are like.

  55. 58 Hamid
    May 14, 2009 at 18:15

    Obama is making a mistake by not allowing the pictures emerge, americans need to know that they’re not above other nations, that make bad mistakes, and should be humble, and learn from it.

  56. 59 Tom D Ford
    May 14, 2009 at 18:16

    These photos should be shown on all TV channels at dinner time over many months so that Americans can sicken and gag at what the Bush/Cheney group did and be revolted by their extreme criminality.

    We should never again allow Conservatives into our politics! Never again!

  57. 60 Anthony
    May 14, 2009 at 18:16

    This woman seems obsessed with everyone seeing these pics for some reason. When Princess Diana died should we have shown pics of her mangled face and body everywhere to show the effects of the paparazzi?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  58. 61 margot in oregon
    May 14, 2009 at 18:16

    I am willing to accept Obama’s decision to not release these photos, in spite of his promise of transparency, because of the reasons he gave for withholding. To me it shows that he is not bull-headed and will stick to what he first said regardless of input/data received since then, but is willing to reconsider when necessary. HIs arguments make sense to me in spite of the fact that I initially thought they definitely should be released. I appreciate his thoughtful approach to problems and decision-making based on all relevant input.

    I would not have accepted the same reasoning from George Bush because he tended to distort the truth to fit whatever decision he felt like making.

  59. 62 Scott
    May 14, 2009 at 18:16

    I’m very happy to hear he did this. I understand the anger with the Bush administration, but the whole “torture”/”harsh interrogation techniques” debate has the potential to derail the entire first term and cause such partisan rancor that nothing will get done.

    Add that to the fact that having the images out there is damaging to our reputation, especially in the environments where our troops are currently operating, and it is a great decision.

    The pictures will eventually emerge, but we’re still too close to, and involved in, the events for them to do anything but harm. I hope he also reins in the AG and Congress to delay any investigations into the Bush white house for a couple of years.

    I also think that what John Augustine said (above) about transparency was excellent.

    We need to look forward, not backwards if we are going to make any progress in the next few years.

  60. 63 Kevin in North Carolina
    May 14, 2009 at 18:16

    Doesn’t Obama run the risk of mythologizing the pictures by chosing not to release them? Now it’s left to everyone’s imagination what the pictures show (or don’t show).

  61. 64 Taka
    May 14, 2009 at 18:18

    He made a smart move now. He made a less wise move earlier in vowing to be transparent. Even Jesus held his cards to his chest at times and was prone to speak in riddles. So why should we expect a mere mortal to be more transparent than a deity. Regrettably Obama’s campaign ran on anti-Bush basically “I’m definitely better than Bush” so he will have to live with the comparisons. Probably Bush would be judged more critically as he put the USA into the war. he would probably be viewed as trying to limit the damage to his Presidency. The photos will be made public but it doesn’t have to be now. I think that the soldiers right to live trumps the American public’s right to know. . any day

  62. 65 V. Nagarajan
    May 14, 2009 at 18:19

    The difference between Obama supporters who oppose the release of the photos and those who want the photos released is that the people opposing trust every word that Obama says.
    I, on the other hand, want the law to take its course. Obama is another pol, after all.

  63. 66 MIGUEL (California)
    May 14, 2009 at 18:20

    I think is a grate decision take it by our President, and for those who want to see those pictures is infuriating how they want to destroy the reputation of the US troops and I advice them to take first a look at the pictures of the victims of 9/11.

  64. 67 steve/oregon
    May 14, 2009 at 18:21

    Look we know the things that happened people were tortured as a vet I really don’t think we need to release any photos that will demonify our soldiers because for every 1-2 bad soldiers there are 30-40 great ones.

    If bush did this I would be upset because like you said Ros that whole admin refused to admit wrong doing

    I did support Obama and the fact i trust him has made me able to justify not releasing these photos at the moment

  65. 68 Webb Hill
    May 14, 2009 at 18:24

    This sad state of Obamas’s not allowing the release of these photos only points out how ” In the pocket” of the Huge Military industrial complex here in the U,S. he actually is
    The U.S. spends 50cents of every dollar on the military and has a combined Military budget larger than all the other western countries combined….. His spending has increased 4% this year again on the military.. … when all other so called intitlement programs are under severe pressure to cut their budgets…
    And in addition, these unreleased pictures may actually be worse than the earlier Abu Grave pictures were, so Yes, could you imagine the world reaction if this is the case……
    You can bet that the military has totally convinced him to go back on his earlier commitments

  66. 69 Enagha
    May 14, 2009 at 18:25

    I support Obama’s decision not to release the photos.There is evidently a limit to transparency because the lives of all the soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan could be at risk. I believe that an independent commission should be set up would be non-partisan to look into the these torture claims.

    Whatever our fears and concerns are, it does not supercede the security of our country and our troops. I know that the GOP has ahand in painting Obama as a slimy politician. He is doing it for the greater good.

  67. 70 ecotopian
    May 14, 2009 at 18:26

    I have no respect for Judith Miller. She was one of the media cheerleaders for the war in Iraq.

    We more than an investigation. We need trials. We need those who authorized to serve time for this. These photos can be used for evidence in those trials. A 9/11 type commission isn’t necessary, We need justice.

    I don’t know what is going on behind this decision. That’s not atypical. you might want to have transparancy, but what you want and what you can have are two totaly different things. This doesn’t mean that the photos won’t come out in some other way. If you recall the earlier photos were leaked. It could happen again, ya never know.

  68. May 14, 2009 at 18:27

    It was definitely the wrong decision. I think President Obama is suffering from the same phenomenon facing our newly-elected President in Ghana and perhaps many other politicians through time. Specifically: when you hot on the campaign trail, it is politically expedient to make idealistic promises to garner support. However, once you take office, the wider picture suddenly becomes important and suddenly has to be taken into consideration but strangely enough did not seem to matter only a few months before.

  69. 72 Nia
    May 14, 2009 at 18:27

    I disagree with Obama’s decision, even though I understand the policitcal motives behind them. I think these photos should have been released with the soldiers and prisoners faces obscured- people tend to want to look the other way and sweep the reality of horrible acts such as military torture under the rug because it means dealing with what this country has done. US soldiers who say that they were just following orders when torturing prisoners or inhumanely treating civilians would then be no different to Nazi soldiers who claimed the same thing during WWII. There is shame and responsibility and it’s time the nation faced up to both rather than just “moving on”.

  70. 73 S
    May 14, 2009 at 18:27

    As the President of the USA, it is Mr. Obama’s duty to the nation to look after the interest of the US troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Based on this consensus, I support his decision to rescind his intial plan to disclose the images. Once the troops are successfully pulled out from the conflict zones, this issue should be taken up again and not simply closed off from the eyes of the public. If the troops were guilty of wrongdoing, they should be punished. Death in a foreign land by perpetuators of Anti-American sentiments is not the appropriate way to dish out justice to them.

  71. 74 Tom D Ford
    May 14, 2009 at 18:28

    These photos should be put into a traveling exhibition and eventually into a museum about the horrors that the Bush/Cheney group committed during their criminal administration.

    Just like the Nazi Concentration Camp museums and the Cambodian Pol Pot Museums.

    The world should know about these crimes and take steps to prevent them from ever happening again.

  72. 75 A.J.
    May 14, 2009 at 18:28

    Oh my, my, my. I am all for knowing what my government is up to and what they may be doing that is not acceptable or illegal. Yes, if “w” would have made the same decision I might have questioned it. However, having already seen vivid examples in previously released photographs, of detainee mistreatment, I think we’ve all gotten the idea. As much as I respect and admire what the ACLU does, I cannot see any point in releasing more photos except to reinforce the ire of those whose trust and respect we are supposedly trying to win back. Really, what would be the point? I have to agree with the President on this one. It could only make things worse.

  73. 76 Jason
    May 14, 2009 at 18:29

    While it may be true that releasing the photos would endanger our troops around the world, the reason that we find ourselves in such a situation is precisely because of what is depicted in the photographs.

    Very little changes in America without overwhelming public pressure, and I do not feel that the American public really understands the depth of what was carried out in its name. In this day and age of media sound clips and short headlines, a long memo or two does not have the impact that photographs do.

    So while it may hammer home the horrific nature of torture to our enemies, it equally does so with the American people. Who, are the only force that can truly change the Government and hold it accountable.

    I fear that by not releasing these photos, there will be insufficient public pressure to hold the prior administration and others accountable, thereby keeping the door open for future unconstitutional and immoral acts by the US Government.

    • 77 Barbara Hobbs
      May 14, 2009 at 18:50

      I don’t think the photos should be published, but this is the best reason for releasing them that I’ve heard so far. Maybe there is a minor possibility that the (hopefully) few Americans who continue to support this approach will change their minds, but probably not. On the other hand it might make a difference for those who don’t support atrocities, but don’t think about them all that much.

  74. 78 Lohith Redy
    May 14, 2009 at 18:30

    I think Obama has cautiously made the right decision. Releasing the photographs to public will only fuel the recruitment of innocent youth into filthy organizations like al-Qaida. We should not forget how people join such origination. It is the sympathy (factor) towards the sufferings of the fellow Muslims, which is used by the radical leaders to recruit innocent youth.

  75. 79 Kary Aloveah
    May 14, 2009 at 18:30

    I am frustrated that people continue to overlook the fact that President Obama is trying to clean up the catastrophic mess left by the previous administration.

    If the Bush administration decided not to release photos, it would probably be because they wanted to continue doing what they were doing. Transparency would have meant they would have had to stop, and be held accountable.

    However, the Obama administration isn’t keeping these photos out of the public eye because they want to continue to torture people…they are coming from a completely different place. So no, it’s not the same thing.

  76. 80 Kimberly
    May 14, 2009 at 18:31

    I believe the pictures would have further angered people both within the United States and throughout the world, and while that would be dangerous to troops deployed worldwide, there is also a great risk for the American people to be making judgments and backing leaders when we have a limited scope of knowledge.

    The reality is the President probably needed to make this decision to keep troops safe. The story is not about pictures so much as it is about how much torture is acceptable to the American people and how frequently it is performed in the our name.

  77. 81 Andrea
    May 14, 2009 at 18:31

    The issue of humiliation was not sufficiently addressed by the host. Simply blurring the faces of those depicted in the photos does not resolve the issue of humiliation. Humiliation is as much social and cultural as it is individual.

  78. 82 Chuck Hulsey
    May 14, 2009 at 18:33

    I’m being honest when I say if our former president had said he wanted to withhold the pictures of torture because it would further fan the flames of anti-American sentiment I would not have believed him. President Bush’s administration was founded on secrecy and lies. So if President Obama says he wants these pictures withheld because it would further fan the flames of anti-American sentiment then I believe him. I don’t view this secrecy nor do I believe he isn’t keeping his campaign promise about transparency. This is an issue of keeping our troops as safe as is possible. I also have two nephews who are currently in different branches of the military so I’m all for keeping our troops safe. It’s been brought up about obscuring the faces of those being tortured. Keeping the faces of the tortured obscured will not change the expected impact of those photos.

  79. 83 Chri
    May 14, 2009 at 18:33

    I’m disappointed that Obama chose to bar the release of these photographs. As citizens it’s important that we understand what is being done in our name. When the next crisis happens, our country will have to decide our course of action. If we refuse to acknowledge all of the consequences, intentional and otherwise, of going to war, then we risk being overly aggressive in the future.

    We can’t shy away from doing the right thing just because there might be painful consequences.

    May 14, 2009 at 18:35

    This is a catch-22 situation. Obama can not have total power in America. The real power in America is vested in the institutions of government. Recall president Nixon in the infamous Water Gate saga and Bill Clinton sheding tears?
    Remember that it is not about the soldiers but commanders in chief of the time as well and his henchmen who have to bear the brunt of ills commited.

    I am not sure what was the opinon of the ordinary Amerian when this things happened and got televised all over the world and the former president’s popularity sored. Probably it was okay then to some though we saw street protests, but now after some distance in time? This is a truly heady subject and we have not seen the tail of it. We are not yet even done with the restoration of America’s image yet at home and abroad and its not yet clear which way to go at times. Super power? Global Cop? – Name it. Its not a case of America alone and the skeletons in the closet. Many countries find themselves in such confusing situations.

  81. 85 Chuck Hulsey
    May 14, 2009 at 18:40

    Andy thinking person will realize that just because President Obama is choosing to withhold these photos does not mean that he’s going back on his campaign promise of transparency. No president can be transparent about everything.

  82. 86 Tom D Ford
    May 14, 2009 at 18:40

    The Bush/Cheney group did the kinds of things that we Americans complain about when the Chinese, North Koreans, and other Nations do to people and we Americans really need to clean up the Bush/Cheney mess and restore the US to the good graces of the world.

    Throw Bush/Cheney and their Conservative backers into jail where they belong!

  83. 87 steve
    May 14, 2009 at 18:40

    In response to lubna, would you want to see pictures of the victims of suicide bombings? Would you demand to see those?

    But then again, if Islam is the peaceful religion that it is portrayed as, what have we to fear from releasing the photos?

  84. 88 Taka
    May 14, 2009 at 18:41

    P.S. Why didn’t the same people who want Obama to reveal everything make the same case against pres. Bush. I think the American terminology is haters.

  85. 89 steve/oregon
    May 14, 2009 at 18:42


    It would not be right to release the photos of the soldiers with out having people in Iraq releasing photos of the insurgents and sunnis killin shias or vice versa

  86. 90 Ralph
    May 14, 2009 at 18:42

    It is obvious to me why the Americans don’t want those damning pictures published – they are afraid of being judged on the facts! They prefer to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that torture contibutes to “freedom” (theirs). They don’t want the world to see the evidence of their evil-doing – a nation of hypocritical church-goers who presume to call themselves “Christian”. It is a mere and laughable pretext to say their soldiers would be “put at risk” – they themselves put them at risk by invading another nation. They have been doing similar things for years, notably in South America.

  87. 91 Chuck Hulsey
    May 14, 2009 at 18:42

    A topic for discussion should be what forms of torture do other countries use. America is not the only country that has employed torture whether in times of war or not.

  88. 92 CJ McAuley
    May 14, 2009 at 18:43

    Excuse me, but the President of the USA is elected by the people. He is elected to govern in the best interest of ALL USA citizens, based in no small part on his demeanor and judgment. Since when is the public entitled to know everything about every decision taken by their President?

  89. 93 Barbara Hobbs
    May 14, 2009 at 18:45

    I totally agree with Obama’s point of view. We are expecting him to be transparent in WHAT HE DOES, which will be good for America. I don’t see how exposing these photos taken during Bush’s administration to the public at large will help convict those who are responsible for these atrocities. I think the investigators should have them, but not the world at large.

    I very much trust Obama, and so far he has done nothing to betray that trust. I’m not sure what I’d say if Bush were still in office. I had a total lack of trust in everything he did or said, but I could possibly still agree that the public in general don’t need more proof. At least those who paid attention know already.

  90. 94 Ralph
    May 14, 2009 at 18:45

    Another thing: why were these pictures taken anyway? Who took them? To accuse those who want to see them of being ghoulish ambulance-chasers is a bit rich!

    May 14, 2009 at 18:46

    How ironical life can be? That the highest discipline in America is not in church, not in the ruling circles, not in masses but it is only to be found in West Point? And yet????
    Goodnight to all my fellow blogers. I am going to bed but Pleace Take Care of My World.

  92. May 14, 2009 at 18:46

    I couldnt vote him coz I aint American.
    I have followed the abuse photos story intently.
    I believe Obama did the right thing.
    America is already a hated nation in the Mid East generally,
    aggravating this situation by publishing these pictures would only worsen it.
    Doesnt everyone believe that what you dont know doesnt hurt?
    Yes we all know it happenned but the horrific details with photos to give all the details to me is not a good option.
    Its only sanity that prevailed.

  93. 97 Anthony
    May 14, 2009 at 18:47

    These Americans are showing whats wrong with our country. “I voted for him, and now sorry that I did”, are you serious, thats why the divorce rate in the U.S. is so high, one little thing happens and now these people are turning their backs? I’d love to see these people in Obama’s shoes and see the “contradictions” fly. That seriously angers me.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  94. 98 Scott
    May 14, 2009 at 18:48

    I think the photos should be public, but unpublished. Put them in a place that they can be seen by a visiting public, in person only. Put copies in various locations, but do not allow public copies to be distributed. This makes the information available without sensationalizing it.

    • 99 Tom K in Mpls
      May 14, 2009 at 19:09

      Scott, with good digital cameras smaller than your thumb this is impossible. But a trusted civilian third party group (not the zealous and useful ACLU) could serve this purpose.

  95. 100 Vijay
    May 14, 2009 at 18:52

    President Obama has done the right thing ,he has to ensure the success of the current mission in Iraq which winding down and the Afghan campaign which is escalating.

    The photos will enter the public domain eventually when the present troubles are history.

    No ones hiding anything ,everybody knows torture happened

    Oh the Bathist Princess lubna was right on form,typical

  96. 101 Al
    May 14, 2009 at 18:54

    The assumption that there is a conflict between transparency and security is bogus. People who hate Americans don’t need these pictures to justify their behavior. Assuming we behave better from now on (including prosecution of criminal acts), openness about past criminal behavior can only create goodwill from people who are persuadable.

  97. 102 Tom D Ford
    May 14, 2009 at 18:54


    Dick Cheney, the man who lied to the American people about WMDs in Iraq, the man who lied about Iraq being connected to 911, the man who has a well established track record of lying, is now saying that he got good information from torture, well who is foolish enough to believe him now?

  98. 103 Frederick
    May 14, 2009 at 18:56

    People speak like when they make decisions, they never change their minds. When a nation’s leader has such sensitive and weighty matters to deal with everyday, isn’t it safer for them to take their time in making crucial decisions, even if they may have had a different stance on the matter? I support Barrack’s decision to not show the photos because I do not see what purpose they will serve. It has already come to light that unacceptable practices went on in Iraq (and may still be going on), but what’s important is that something is being done about them. There is absolutely no need to show more images of cruelty to satiate desires for revenge.

  99. 104 Jonathan (dazzling San Francisco)
    May 14, 2009 at 18:58

    If that Judith Miller is the former journalist, formerly of the New York Times, there is no place for her in serious public discourse. I’m amazed tjhat she dares show her face, and appalled at BBC for providing her a forum. Have you no standards left?

  100. 105 American Expat abroad
    May 14, 2009 at 18:58

    Transparency is important. But common sense all the more so.

    Every day, across America, judges are asked to make decisions about whether evidence submitted is too inflammatory. Sometimes evidence is incredibly inflammatory, but is allowed to be presented to a jury, because it adds a legitimate perspective on the trial. Sometimes it isn’t because it sheds nothing new and adds no value. This isn’t about transparency, it’s about common sense.

    Another important thing to remember is that choosing not to make these photos public does NOTHING to limit the ability of the government to keep President Obama’s promise to hold people accountable. How that is done and the outcomes should be made public at the appropriate time, in an appropriate manner. Media sensationalism isn’t the right way, sober reporting of abuses and the corrective measures taken, with transparency of the process to do so makes far more sense.

    I love that people say, how do you know it shows nothing new, have you seen them? Isn’t it just as likely that these are more of the same and literally serve no more purpose than to give critics of Obama and/or America ammunition? Quit second guessing people when we don’t have the information, appoint a properly empowered, bilateral and independent panel to review this and let it go!

  101. 106 John
    May 14, 2009 at 18:59

    I do feel releasing the photos will incite a furious reaction in the middle east and agree with Obama. However, Why aren’t those in the middle east upset with their own governments, religous factions, and radicals who also kill and torture in their name? America must prosecute those responsible for these policies, but we don’t need to kick the hornets nest either. Those who are angry in the middle east should be angry, but should direct their anger to affecting change and bringing peace to their countries. If the taliban and terrorists go, so will american troops. I just don’t understand why people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan aren’t angry at the insurgents as well? or maybe why it isn’t reported.

  102. 107 Tom K in Mpls
    May 14, 2009 at 18:59

    A valid side point. I hear that many are worried about endangering the lives of US service personnel. Ask yourself this question, when have US military personnel ever taken more losses than the other groups around them? This aspect, of this issue, can be seen as the protection of others as well.

  103. 108 Neil
    May 14, 2009 at 19:03

    With respect to Judith Miller’s remarks; let the people decide if the pictures are not worth a thousand words. If they are inconsequential then people will ignore it. Unless you are implying that we the people are too dumb to see whats right. In which case do you suppose you want to run a nanny state? Maybe communism, let the govt. decide whats best for you. It worked so well in the past.

    And for Nick Sloan: can you tell me which staffers have been prosecuted for this?? I might be unaware but kindly do post a list if you have one.

  104. May 14, 2009 at 19:06

    In my opinion, President Obama’s decision to withhold the release of these photos is logical and acceptable considering the great detail that the already released torcher memos go into. Many people have compared this situation with the abu ghraib incident and the Bush administrations attempt to sweep it under the table. ONE: Abu Ghraib photos were released by solders and without anyone’s consent or approval. This is an entirely different situation in that documentation has already surfaced exposing the truths about the us military abusing personnel. TWO: who wants to see these photos anyways when you can read about EXACTLY what went on.

    I voted for Obama and stand by his decision making thus far in his Presidency. Rational and logical.

  105. 110 eddy
    May 14, 2009 at 19:08

    Transparency have its limit, not when peoples lives are
    at stake, so i agree with Obama not releasing those
    pictures because it will cause people to lose their
    fathers and sons.

  106. 111 Tom D Ford
    May 14, 2009 at 19:11

    I think that these photos ought to be published to the world along with a note saying that we Americans have rejected the Conservatives who committed these crimes and we apologize to the world for ever allowing them into office.

  107. May 14, 2009 at 19:12

    Obama should release the photos for transparency, but there is nothing wrong with watermarking them with the words “never again” or compositing them in photshop first so that we also show people the US has helped or people the taliban have beheaded, etc. Some will no doubt be retouched to make them just torture photos (we can copyright the images and then prosecute them for this if we want.), but if the concern is the effect on public opinion the answer is a media campaign. As a plus any media campaign that admits to torturing gets a pretty good boost in credibility so it’s a great time to state an argument in pictures or words about the good parts of america too.

    As a side note, I have to consider the hipocracy of insisting we have the right to view and publish images of Mohamad, but denying the right to view images of our torturing people. How exactly do we explain that to the muslims in afghanistan?

  108. 113 mustafa sabo adam
    May 14, 2009 at 19:27

    iam supporting what obama has said becouse when the photographs are shown to public, may complicate everything. but since he knows the photographs exist, let’s wait and see how he is going to take action on it.

  109. 114 Simon
    May 14, 2009 at 19:38

    Obama is a hypocrite. He was quite happy during Pres Bush’s term in office to criticise the non-release of these sort of images, but now that he’s at the helm, he wishes – just like Pres Bush – to suppress them.

    By the way, I’d welcome you interviewing Rush Limbagh on your show.

    He’d provide some refreshing counter arguments to the many well-worn views propounded by the mostly leftist student listeners of yours, in the US.

    Perhaps he could participate in a future programme?

  110. 115 kramer
    May 14, 2009 at 19:45

    I’m sorry, but president obama (and congress) throwing our money (borrowed from china) and future away at everything under-the-sun is much more important than these pictures! Wake up people.

  111. 116 Bert
    May 14, 2009 at 19:47

    I can’t say, not having seen the pictures myself. However, one good outcome of releasing the pictures would have been to put soldiers on notice that they must not give, or carry out, illegal orders. If the pictures show torture, and soldiers carrying it out, then the soldiers and their commanders need to wake up to what they should have known all along.

    On the other hand …

    When it comes to worrying about offending our enemies, let us not forget that we are talking about people who behead their captives on TV, people who hang their captives from bridges, people who drag the bodies of their captives behind trucks through city streets, people who poison little girls for going to school, people who murder civilians indiscrimately, and deliberately. Any show of outrage from such people can only be described as disingenuous.

    Still, our departure from those parts is more than overdue.

  112. 117 Jim Newman
    May 14, 2009 at 20:21

    Hello again
    It seems to be generally accepted that the USA can go rampaging around the world murdering and terrorising at will.
    The USA administration say they are protecting their vital interrests.
    Isn’t it also a valid point that the victims also have a vital interrest in trying to make their countries USA military- free.
    Dick Cheney seems to think it is an honour to be tortured and he would surely submit himself to it if he only had the opportunity.
    I think pres. Obama is doing the honorable thing in not publishing the photos, to protect the USA troops in other countries. I think it would be even more honorable and even more protective if he brought all the troops home.

  113. 118 Nathaniel in Indiana
    May 14, 2009 at 22:34

    I think the idea that these photos would endanger US troops to be patenty false, as supported by many experts of the mideast and public relations. I receive WHYS through a local public radio distributer, and on that very same distributer ‘s national news service they had CIA analysts commenting to this effect. I feel that Pres. Obama is trying to do the best thing for the country in a sort of centrist bi-partisan reach to conservatives by witholding the photographs, but ultimately the more important thing is to support full transperency of the government -especially when such photographs could be used as evidence of a crime.

    For the record I am not an Obama supporter, but I do not hate the man. We have different views but so far his presidency has been nothing to screech about (like the right has done)- I just hope that this does not signal a wrong turn for his administration, to be followed by many more.

  114. 119 Jonathan
    May 14, 2009 at 22:37

    I was told as a child the at all times “good sense must be allowed to prevail in all things.”

    The photos could easily have been released and changed nothing of any reasonable person’s negative opinion of the Iraqi invasion and the Bush administration….and then what: More fuel to fundamentalist and extremist fires now finally brought down to simmer in Iraq. How do people really believe we shall ever get to a level of peaceful co-existance in this fragile planet if not to allow civil discourse to develop in place of continuous aggravation.

    Good for you Mr. Obama in catching an horrific error in idealistic judgement before it was realized. There is hope for this planet yet.

  115. May 14, 2009 at 22:47

    It’s called pragmatism and I support Obama totally on this one.

  116. May 15, 2009 at 02:31

    I think that Abu Ghraib angered the erstwhile peaceful English/Muslims and this may not be the time. It is said that showing them would allow Americans to get closure. It may not help Muslims to get closure and we have no right to insist that they do? Obama has a lot on his plate of greater importance. You have to choose your battles. He has made it clear where he stands on what happened and it should be clear that on his watch it will not re occur. That is what really matters.

  117. May 15, 2009 at 03:20

    Somehow violation of the rule of law, i.e., the Constitution, has been trumped by the question of transparency. It seems to me that the rule of law needs to be observed without qualification because to make exceptions to that rule robs a a citizenry of information needed to act responsibly and to try in a court of law those who are alleged to have flaunted the Constitution however good their intentions might have been.

    President Bush claimed that only a few bad apples were involved in torture. 2000 photos imply that the number was far greater, and the scope implies approval of torture at the highest levels of government.. Exposing what those photos reveal may well increase the demand for an congressional investigation of what the Bush Administration did.

    If that administration broke the law it should be held accountable and that accountability demands a trial. Evidence in such a trial would, amongst other things, be those photos – or so I believe. Transparency is a red herring.

    Charles – Oakland CA

  118. May 15, 2009 at 07:24

    I did not believe for one moment that President Obama could change the direction of American foreign policy. An American President can only bring about change in style, not substance. Despite the reputation of being the most powerful man in the world, an American President is a slave to the forces (some of them dark and sinister) that propel him into the Oval Office. America is neither a free nor is it a democratic country in the real sense.

  119. 124 Jim Newman
    May 15, 2009 at 12:01

    Hello again
    To Israel Ambe. Couldn’t pragmatism also be interpreted as political cowardice?

  120. 125 Paris
    May 15, 2009 at 17:26

    Of course there is a limit to transparency, but this does not approach that limit.

  121. May 15, 2009 at 23:24

    Because of the lack of transparency and candor in our society it is going to be destroyed by Jesus Christ.

  122. 127 Nathaniel
    May 16, 2009 at 03:18

    One further comment- what inflames mideast anger and puts US troops in danger (of having to face new converts to radical islamic and terrorist organizations) is a long litany of grievances against the US government historically, coupled with incredibly difficult circumstances in certain regions. One could look to the poverty Iran for example and then examine the history of US-Iranian relations- hardly a record to be proud of. The coupling of these and other factors are what bring people into extremism, not photographs. That being said, if the Obama administration can help shift American foreign policy away from some of its less admirable past and set a tone which addresses the underlying causes of extremist behavior as well as meaningfully engage nations such as Iran (with reserve), the Obama administration will have done a great service to not only America’s perception abroad, but will have well protected American servicemen.

  123. 128 tremont
    May 16, 2009 at 05:46

    its easy to sit on the sidelines and carp…particularly when you are oceans away and in a society that only one day hopes to as open as ours, even under a paranoid like Bush or NIxon

  124. 129 Max
    May 16, 2009 at 08:08

    Of course Obama made the right decision – it would only add fuel to the “hate America” people. Why should we self destruct? I believe it is high time that photos of the Muslim torturers be released – the beheadings, the stoning to death, the public whippings, the masked cowards planting roadside bombs in markets where people are shopping, the poisening of girls because they go to school, the burning of their schools, the acid burnt faces of the girls the Taliban have tortured, the hanging in public places, the dragging of bodies from behind cars. It would make whatever went on in Gitmo seem like a holiday camp. I’ve got news for the Muslim Martrys – there is no paradise with virgins for you – just Hell awaits, long, slow and torturous infinity.

    • 130 Jim Newman
      May 17, 2009 at 18:43

      Hello again
      And hello Max. I wonder who would get the highest score between the USA and the Taliban if the atrocities committed on each side were totaled up.

  125. 131 CarlosK
    May 16, 2009 at 09:20

    Good day WHYSayers,

    Is there a limit to transparency?

    I will answer you question with this question:

    Is the new definition of transparency giving people information they don’t need but want? What useful purpose is served by releasing those despicable photos?

    It is now public knowledge that American soldiers were authorised by the former administration to torture its captives which is against internation law. Thats transparency and thats good enough for me. I don’t want to see those photos because it may build resentment in me against America and if it can do that in a level headed person like me, imagine what it will do in hot heads.

    President Obama has surpasses the threshold for transparency in this regard as the matter has been fully ventilated and there’s no longer a cover-up un like what transpire in the Bush/Cheney era.

    Carlos, Kingston-Jamaica.

  126. 132 obo
    May 16, 2009 at 14:11

    Hear no evil. See no evil, Speak no evil

    Any questions?

  127. 133 Syed Hasan Turab
    May 16, 2009 at 20:23

    No doubt we have some devation between theory & practical, we may classify this deviation as double standard.

  128. 134 gustavo
    May 17, 2009 at 03:38

    there should not be a limit, but unfortunately government has become separate and scared of its people. In a perfect world, the people would be involved and the government would be willing to meet them halfway with information.

  129. 135 globalcomedy
    May 17, 2009 at 05:16

    Since war crimes have already been comitted, Obama has two choices.

    One, do the job that he swore to do when he took his Presidential oath. Investigate and prosecute these war criminals to the full extent of intl. law. He’s an attorney and politician.

    If he doesn’t, he’s violating his oath. And could be impeached. But who’s going to have the guts to do that? No one. It’s not do the right thing. It’s all political spin to maintain power.

  130. 136 monika (Germany)
    May 17, 2009 at 15:19

    Hi BBC !
    You are questioning the need for transparency ? There certainly is a need for civil rights and liberties i.e. freedom of speech, freedom of information…

    How can you ignore the annual meeting of the rich of the riches , the top leaders of the world, of business and finance ? (120 – 150 people) Much more important than a G 20 summit !! They are talking about the impending collapse of the financial system, about bankcruptcy of countries, and global chaos ? About a global bank and global currency ? About a new global political system – not important enough for the people to know ??

    For my English speaking friends:

    300 members of the Greek Communist Party KKE came with 7 buses dodging the police barricades and staged a loud protest in front of the Astir Palace Hotel in Vouliagmeni Greece where Bilderberg is meeting (May 14-17) Shouting slogans, holding up posters and transperancies they showed their discontent against globalisation, the EU and the NWO. About 50 police stood against them, although further troops are waiting in the background. Some pushing and shoving took place. The leaders of the demonstration said they don’t intend to enter the grounds. The police seemed quite angry because the buses came through. The KKE organizers hat everything well planned and took the authorities by suprise. (Well ,maybe they were even invited by the Bilderberg globalist Henry Kissinger… to damage the cause of the truthseekers, the cause of democracy and free society – Bilderbergers’ intention is the surrection of a fascist New World Order – they want the global control of money – a global government – their greed is limitless)

  131. 137 Elan Durham
    May 18, 2009 at 09:34

    Obviously there are limits to transparency in government; that’s why there are agenices like the CIA, FBI, NSA, etc. However, what has happened in the US since the Bush years constitutes such a blurring of civilian and military domains, such a complete lack of any guarantees as promised under the Constitution and Bill of Rights, as well as a kind of pervasive Black Ops Helicopter atmosphere that we now have total OPACITY–a muck really–as to make of our government a swamp of prevarication. The Bush Adminstration even created their own fake news agency, for heavens sake.

    I do not particularly care about the pictures per se; there is a prurient interest in this kind of thing; I call it torture porn, but I would very much like them to be submitted to the Justice Department as evidence, and this idea of moving on sacked. Many people barely survived the Bush years (some did not) and we certainly do not want to consider the possibility of revisiting those years again. The lies, bullying, arrogance, and outright robbery of every decent standard of human conduct was sickening. All of the above means that people should be brought to an accounting for what they’ve done to bring disgrace upon the nation and undermind the rule of law. And I would personally appreciate a new respect for government restraint and the inviolable law of human dignity, and privacy in civilian life reinstated… My two cents.

  132. May 18, 2009 at 13:06

    While too much transparency is terrible, hiding the truth is.

  133. May 18, 2009 at 17:41

    No there is no limit to transparency but we do not live and never have lived in an ideal world. Torture of prisoners wether by the police or the military goes on and will continue to go on, only a very few cases have been exposed. there are many cases of torture of one kind or another that goes on today in practically every country in the world regardless of the politics, wether be it a democracy, communist or dictatorship.

  134. 140 Syed Hasan Turab
    May 18, 2009 at 18:30

    All these abuses need to be investigated by UNO in accordance to ” Geneva Convention”.
    The Oboma is trying to avoid the issue & let the Repulican & Democrate to discuss the issue is not correct at all, as Both US political parties are declared criminal in this regard, because they authorised Mr. Bush to do every thing.
    These issue creator’s dont have ability to resolve the issue, this is why involvement of netural body is essential to restore the dignity, respect & good immage about the USA in national & international lobbies, this is wht Mr. Oboma need it to avoid isolation.

  135. 141 Max
    May 22, 2009 at 04:53

    Hello again and Hello Jim
    The Taliban list of crimes and torture is so long that it makes USA crime list tiny in comparison. Did someone say that war was a party game? Thank God the USA can get tough – it needs to when dealing with barbarians and liars like the Taliban., who operate in the name of Allah the good and compassionate!

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