Administration could renege on release of abuse photos

The Justice Department committed, in court, to making the pictures public, but the White House seems to be walking that back.

Published May 13, 2009 3:15PM (EDT)

Last month, in response to a court order, the Justice Department said that it would release 44 previously unseen photos of detainee abuse by the end of May. Now, it's looking like the administration is thinking about reversing that decision.

The Washington Post notes that in his daily briefing on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary was noncommittal on the question of the photos' release. Asked about a letter sent by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., in which the two men opposed the release, Gibbs said:

[O]bviously the President has great concern about any impact that pictures of detainee -- potential detainee abuse in the past could have on the present-day service members that are protecting our freedom either in Iraq, Afghanistan, or throughout the world. That's something the President is very cognizant of, and we are working to -- we are working currently to figure out what the process is moving forward.

When asked more directly, "does that mean the decision could be reversed?" Gibbs responded, "I don't want to get into that right now." Pressed again, "So you can't commit either way?" Gibbs dodged one final time, saying, "I'm not going to add much to that right now."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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