Wed, 13 May 2009 20:26:17 +0000 – By Peter RoffFellow, Liberty Institute/Former Senior Political Writer, United Press International
President Barak Obama said Wednesday that the White House would change course to block the release of hundreds of photos demanded in a federal Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Obama administration's standard seems to be that it will release information embarrassing to Bush but hold back information embarrassing to us or information that could create a problem.
As FOX Newsis reporting, President Obama told his legal advisers last week he did not feel comfortable with the release of the photos because he believes they would endanger U.S. troops and that the national security implications of such a release have not been fully presented in federal court.
The decision to hold back the photos is the correct one. Their release will only further inflame anti-American sentiments in the predominantly Islamic region of the world. And that will, as the President seems to be saying, only encourage acts of violence against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and against U.S. interests around the globe, including here at home.
On the other hand, the decision is a bit baffling.
The justification for holding back the photos seems to apply equally well to the need to hold back the so-called torture memos. But those were released several weeks ago, much to the pleasure of the Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Furthermore the memos, while equally if not more inflammatory than some allege the photographs to be, also provide information about U.S. interrogation techniques that terrorists groups might regard as helpful for them to know. So one could argue it would be even more imperative to keep the memos under wraps.
The Obama administration should utilize some kind of standard to determine what information is let out and what information is held back. Up to now it appears the standard is to release information embarrassing to Bush; hold back information embarrassing to us (like the photo of Air Force One flying over Liberty Island) or information (like the pictures the ACLU wants) that could create a problem for as long as possible. But it can't be as simple, as political as that - can it?