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Releasing Torture Photos

In the immortal words of Jack Nicholson, “You can’t handle the truth.” A CNN poll found that 75 percent of those questioned oppose the release of the most recent batch of photos showing Americans’ abuse of captives.

President Obama’s rational for refusing to release the photos is that it will incite retaliation against American troops. It is ironic that we would be concerned about retaliation due to photos of prisoner abuse, but not about retaliation due to the abuse itself. The fact is the damage has been done. American captives have family and friends. Word does get out. No doubt the abuses at Abu Ghraib were common knowledge among Iraqis long before the photos were released. The real impact of releasing those photos was to stir an outcry, at least among Americans who still have the vestiges of a conscience.

The fact is many people in this country don’t want to know about atrocities committed on our behalf. Like Germans who denied knowledge of the Holocaust after World War II, we want credible “deniability.”

To his credit, President Obama has put a stop to the heinous practices of the Bush-Cheney regime. Release of the photos would have gone a long way towards creating a climate in which citizens would say, with one voice, “never again.” Unfortunately, now we are left with the wishy-washy option of saying simply, “not right now.”

Joe Gerken

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