Obama is pushing to stop the release of torture photos. He says it’s because the photos will be a recruiting poster for terrorists and American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will be killed.
CQPolitics has an article today (16 June 2009) that questions this claim with evidence. The Abu Ghraib photos were first seen on “60 Minutes” on 28 April 2004. The image above shows American deaths in Iraq over time. For 2004, the numbers of dead/wounded are:
28 April 2004: Photos appear on “60 Minutes”
The one thing these numbers show is that the number of deaths and wounded drop after the photos are released. It is doubtful that the photos caused the numbers to drop, but to say the photos caused the number of attacks to rise would first require the numbers to actually be higher from before to after, and second would require that the photos were what actually caused the rise in numbers.
Since the numbers actually fell after the photos were made public, one cannot assert that the release of photos would cause attacks to rise without disregard to the historical evidence to the contrary.
The CQ Politics article states:
Defense Department data and independent experts confirm there is no clear link between the Abu Ghraib scandal and violence in Iraq.
Drawing a connection between the Abu Ghraib photos and the lethal violence that occurred afterward in Iraq “is opinion, not analysis,” said Anthony H. Cordesman, a military expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Simpler reasons exist for why Obama does not want the photos of Americans torturing Iraqi prisoners to be released than the fabrication that it will cause more attacks. Americans might finally demand that Obama prosecute Americans who committed torture and the Bush administration people who authorized torture. And Obama has said repeatedly that he wants to “look forward, not back” on torture. He has made clear that he doesn’t want to investigate criminal activity.
And though Obama says he doesn’t want the photos released because of attacks, the facts don’t support that notion. So, it might be more accurate to say that Obama doesn’t want to release the photos so he doesn’t have to prosecute the people who committed and authorized torture.