This leak has hurt our ability to bring the U.S. government to account.

The premature leaked release of photographs that the Dept. of Defense has been ordered to hand over by a federal judge has deeply harmed the impact, importance, and publicity had these photos been instead released by a recalcitrant, secretive U.S. government.

The ACLU has spent untold hours and money trying to force the U.S. to release these photos. What the ACLU wants — and what we should want — is the U.S. government suffering the intense embarrassment of having to show the photographic evidence of its torture policies. Nothing less will do.

Despite its innumerable appeals, perhaps someday the U.S. government would have had to comply with the September 2005 court order (which I wrote about yesterday). I’m patient enough to wait for that historic day when Rummy et al., in a shameful, foot-shuffling (or in Rummy’s case, his typical chickenhawk macho bluster), will be forced to hand over the images.

Since these new images have been leaked to the Australian media, the horror of the finally released photos by the U.S. will be severely diminished.

Is this what the U.S. government wanted? Did someone in our government leak these photos precisely to tamp down the impact when all are eventually released? Isn’t that possible?

And why, and how, did an Australian TV show get the photos and videos? That’s a rather long way from their repository in the D.C. area of the U.S. And that Aussie program is an equivalent in name, at least, and content, probably, to NBC’s very pedestrian Natalie-Holloway-Entwistle-O.J.-Robert-Blake “news” program, Dateline NBC. However, its network, Myriad tells us in her comment below, is multi-cultural and the reporter airing the photo story has covered U.S. prison torture and mistreatment, as well as the Iraq war.

I figure that whoever leaked the photos/video to the Australian media did so because it wouldn’t get enough press here to be a monster story, but it would get out to the people who are most interested in the story: People like us on this blog, ACLU and Amnesty and CCR members, and the rare officials who are.

The only way I want to see these images/video (Reuters has more) is when we receive all from the U.S. government itself after a judge forces them to reveal the images.

ALSO: We know these — as bad as they are, including evidence of bullet wounds — are NOT the worst of the photos, which purportedly (says Seymour Hersh) include photographs of young boys being sodomized and tortured.

See also: the WaPo’s “Australian TV Network Airs More Abu Ghraib Photos.”

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