Federal Judge Orders Reasons for U.S. Government Withholding Over 2,000 Torture Photos from Iraq and Afghanistan

On Tuesday, Federal Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that the Obama Administration has until December 12, 2014, to provide complete details as to why it is withholding approximately 2,100 graphic photographs of members of the U.S. military torturing captives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under Hellerstein’s ruling, Justice Department attorneys must provide justification for why each individual photograph is being kept from the eyes of the public.

According to The Guardian, the imagery in this case, which has lasted more than a decade, is the subject of a transparency lawsuit that “both the Bush and Obama administrations, backed by the U.S. Congress, have strenuously resisted.”

International Business Times UK reported that the current stash of photographs are said to show “more disturbing examples of torture and humiliation,” than were revealed in the photographs of “hooded, naked and abused prisoners inside the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq,” which sparked global outrage in 2004.

In 2009, President Obama insisted that releasing the photographs would “further inflame anti-American opinion,” and would ultimately “put our troops in greater danger.”

As a result, the Protected National Security Document Act was passed in 2009, to “protect” the photographs from the public.

The Guardian reported that while Hellerstein is demanding answers from the Obama administration, “any actual release of the photographs will come after Hellerstein reviews the government’s reasoning and issues another ruling in the protracted transparency case.

In a blog post from an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, Marcellene Hearn, she said that she viewed the release of the photos as something the government should do in order to provide transparency to the public.

The American people are entitled to know what took place in U.S. detention centers,” said Hearn. “It would be completely backwards to suppress images of government misconduct on the grounds that they are too powerful to be disclosed, when it is often disclosure, accountability and ensuing reforms that prevent misconduct from recurring.”