The Pentagon's picture problems

The Army calls off its investigation of the pictures-for-porn swap just as a federal judge says the government must release more photos from Abu Ghraib.

Published September 29, 2005 6:28PM (EDT)

As quickly as it began, the Army has apparently ended its probe into whether soldiers have been uploading photographs of dismembered Iraqis in exchange for free access to amateur porn. But it's going to be harder than that for the military to rid itself of its problems with pictures.

A federal judge in New York ruled today that the military must release photographs and videotapes showing incidents of alleged abuse at Abu Ghraib. The American Civil Liberties Union began seeking release of the photos in 2003, but the Pentagon has resisted, insisting that citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan might riot if they saw more pictures of what U.S. soldiers and contractors have done.

In his ruling today, U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said his job is "not to defer to our worst fears, but to interpret and apply the law, in this case, the Freedom of Information Act, which advances values important to our society, transparency and accountability in government." He said that terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven they "do not need pretexts for their barbarism."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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