AP is reporting that U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein today ruled that the Abu Ghraib photos be released.

NEW YORK – Saying the United States “does not surrender to blackmail,” a judge ruled Thursday that pictures of detainee abuse at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison must be released over government claims that they could damage America’s image.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ordered the release of certain pictures in a 50-page decision that said terrorists in Iraq and
Afghanistan have proven they “do not need pretexts for their barbarism.”

So this means that the judge thinks the Government’s argument that release of these photos will be too inflamatory is, well, bull. They will certainly be inflamatory politically.

The judge said: “Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command. Indeed, the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed.”

Yay Judge Hellerstein.

I just hope they get the darn things released before Rummy’s boys can shoot back.

Update: Thanks to Susanhu for this additional information. The ACLU is positively exhuberant over this victory:

“Today’s historic ruling is a step toward ensuring that our government’s leaders are held accountable for the abuse and torture that happened on their watch,”said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “The American public has a right to know what happened in American detention centers, and how our leaders let it occur.”


Today’s ruling underscored the importance of public scrutiny and debate about the torture scandal. “The fight to extend freedom has never been easy, and we are once again challenged, in Iraq and Afghanistan, by terrorists who engage in violence to intimidate our will and force us to retreat. Our struggle to prevail must be without sacrificing the transparency and accountability of government and military officials,” Judge Hellerstein said.


Amrit Singh, an ACLU attorney who argued the case before the court, added: “These images are of critical public interest because they shed light on the scope and severity of the abuse and on what was authorized or permitted by high-ranking U.S. officials. The government cannot continue to hide the truth about what happened and who was ultimately responsible.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights joined with the ACLU and others to bring the FOIA Litigation against the Department of Defense. Their website had this:

The court’s decision came after four days of argument and many briefs submitted by the parties on a number of key questions regarding the treatment of detainees in Guantánamo and Iraq, including the use of interrogation techniques in the war on terror that constitute torture under the U.S. Constitution and international law, President Bush’s authorization of the creation of CIA detention centers around the world and the use of unlawful interrogation techniques at those centers, and the CIA’s actions in hiding prisoners in detention facilities as “ghost detainees.”

The Court, addressing the CIA’s claim that national security prevented the agency from admitting or denying the existence of documents discussing authorized interrogation methods and the creation of secret foreign detention centers, stated that the discussion of these issues in the press indicated that the purpose of the CIA’s refusal was not to protect intelligence activities but rather to conceal “possible violations of the law in the treatment of prisoners” or other embarrassing acts of the agency. As a result, the Court ruled that that:

• The CIA must admit to the existence of a memorandum from the Department of Justice to the CIA interpreting the Convention Against Torture and either produce it or explain its reasons for withholding the document; and

• The DOD must produce hundreds of additional photographs and videos depicting the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Emphasis mine.

Wow, this is even bigger than I thought. The CIA must admit that the torture memorandum exists? And produce it? This is truely a happy day.

ACLU Statement

Center for Constitutional Rights Statement

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