Obama does ‘complete 180′ on detainee photos

posted at 1:14 pm on May 13, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

After a bipartisan round of condemnation over his decision not to appeal a ruling on detainee photos to the Supreme Court, President Barack Obama reversed himself in a move called a “complete 180″ by Jake Tapper at ABC.  Obama instructed his White House counsel Greg Craig to file an appeal to keep photos depicting abuse of detainees by American troops from the public.  The ACLU will not be pleased:

President Obama met with White House counsel Greg Craig and other members of the White House counsel team last week and told them that he had second thoughts about the decision to hand over photographs of detainee abuse to the ACLU, per a judge’s order, and had changed his mind.

The president “believes their release would endanger our troops,” a White House official says, adding that the president “believes that the national security implications of such a release have not been fully presented to the court.”

At the end of that meeting, the president directed Craig to object to the immediate release of the photos on those grounds. In an Oval Office meeting with Iraq Commander General Ray Odierno, the president told him of his decision to argue against the release  of the photographs.

The move is a complete 180. In a letter from the Justice Department to a federal judge on April 23, the Obama administration announced that the Pentagon would turn over 44 photographs showing detainee abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Bush administration.

Rumors of the switch began leaking yesterday out of the West Wing, accompanied by a strange non-answer by Robert Gibbs.  The expiration date on Obama’s original position came less than three weeks after publicly taking it.  At the time, Obama insisted that the need to be honest exceeded our national-security concerns, and the safety of our troops as well.

What changed?  The decision angered the military, which recalled the hysterics over the Abu Ghraib photos.  Even Obama’s allies on the decision admitted that the release would damage security and put American troops in more danger, including John Kerry, who said they made great propaganda for our terrorist enemies.  With the CIA already battling the White House after the release of the OLC memos, the last thing Obama needed was a war with the Pentagon.

In the end, it may not make much difference.  The Supreme Court could uphold the lower court decision to force their release, and Craig may not bother to work tirelessly to win this appeal anyway.  The initial withdrawal of the White House on this appeal will certainly come under scrutiny by the justices.  However, that will then be their problem and not Obama’s, a calculation that one wonders how Obama missed in the first place.


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I’m just as willing to bet that a young Iraqi who grew up with a father, because Saddam didn’t get the chance to kill his father, will stop that attempt.

Romantic notion but rather far fetched.

Your racism is showing. Not all people in the middle east are murdering thugs. And not everyone uses their past to excuse their actions. Just terrorists and liberals.

hawksruleva on May 13, 2009 at 11:10 PM

Iraqi is not a race and neither is Islam, just as Australian is not a language.

MB4 on May 14, 2009 at 1:08 AM

Iraqis do not live under Sharia Law. You should visit so you know what you’re taking about.

hawkdriver on May 13, 2009 at 10:11 PM

From the Iraqi constitution -

Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation.

Now they do speak of democracy in their constitution also, but I do not believe that their notion of democracy, which is incompatible with Islam, is at all like ours.

MB4 on May 14, 2009 at 1:21 AM

The military is never in charge with Dems. They were, rightfully, frightened over this election.

I think they did get through to him about the stormfire he has created.

This apparently won’t be similar to the disaster he created in the banking industry dust-up.

I think it’s just training wheels. He’s not sophisticated politically.

AnninCA on May 14, 2009 at 1:49 AM

How’s this for incompetent?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090514/pl_politico/22503
(about half way down Politico’s story, about when Obama originally decided to release the photos)

Obama had not even seen the detainee photos before deciding to reveal them…

Shifting gears a little, the question I’d like answered is if Obama even bothered to read how effective the Enhanced Interrogation Program was before releasing the memos last month that informed the terrorists exactly what they need to train to withstand. Or is he just winging it?

willamettevalley on May 14, 2009 at 2:50 AM

Photo flip: Growing up or selling out?
by Ben Smith, Josh Gerstein

President Barack Obama’s decision to withhold photographs of abused detainees marks the next phase in the education of the new president on the complicated, combustible issue of torture.

Conservatives praised the move as a sign of Obama’s growth in office, while civil libertarians denounced it as a betrayal of the change he’d campaigned on.

But it also marked a growing recognition inside the White House of how explosive the question of torture has become — swamping his predecessor’s legacy, entangling the speaker of the House and threatening to overwhelm Obama’s agenda.

What about the almost unthinkable possibility that Obama isn’t growing in office at all, but is just trying to stop the fire he started from putting him in jeopardy? Like, it’s all about him.

Nahhhhh. Couldn’t possibly be that.

Loxodonta on May 14, 2009 at 2:53 AM

Dick Cheney : 1 Chicago Jesus : 0
Box Score: HR – Cheney WP: Cheney LP: Obama Balk: Pelosi and Obama

Dire Straits on May 13, 2009 at 10:55 PM

That was excellent! lol

tbear44 on May 14, 2009 at 2:54 AM

However, that will then be their problem and not Obama’s, a calculation that one wonders how Obama missed in the first place.

This is too damn easy, and I’ll sum it up with one name.

Dick Cheney.

The Obamanations new theme song. Sing it with me, people!

This is the way we cut and run.
Cut and run. Cut and run.
This is the way we cut and run
in the daylight of the morning!

DannoJyd on May 14, 2009 at 4:15 AM

And again, I don’t much mind that you’re a liberal attention whore and that you post your daily talking points here. I’m sure that’s your job. Just don’t sicken me with your comments about the military.

hawkdriver on May 13, 2009 at 10:09 PM

I am an obamacon, just like Gen. Powell and Condi Rice. I am in favor of protecting American lives over Iraqi lives any day, especially those of our troops. I am still a registered republican….for now.
One of my older brothers was an officer in the USAF.
He flies for UPS now.

strangelet on May 14, 2009 at 7:30 AM

Bottom the Comick Rustick and rode his ignorant failed policies into the ground (incidentally taking your party with him) doesn’t mean all presidents have to be stupid and inflexible.

strangelet on May 13, 2009 at 1:26 PM

Umm, our last candidate was John McCain. But you’re clearly referring to Bush. NOTE TO LIBERALS: George Bush did not run in the most recent election, even though you campaigned against him.

hawksruleva on May 14, 2009 at 9:10 AM

It is called, intellectual flexibilty and machiavellian pragmatism.
strangelet on May 13, 2009 at 1:26 PM

What’s so great about those qualities? Dictators can be pragmatic. Terrorists can be intellectually flexible. How about taking the right (as in correct) side of an issue, and sticking to it?

Just remember how much stock you placed in flexibility and pragmatism, when you lose your job or go bankrupt because Obama found it pragmatic to tax sugar, and exhaling. Pragmatism is the strategy that says it’s ok to allow the aged to die, since it saves the government money.

hawksruleva on May 14, 2009 at 9:13 AM

Iraqi is not a race and neither is Islam, just as Australian is not a language.

MB4 on May 14, 2009 at 1:08 AM

You mean Austrian, don’t you? I don’t believe Obama has visited Australia and made a boob of himself. Yet.

Of course “Iraqi is not a race”. But that doesn’t change the fact that you seem to picture terrorists as some sort of subhuman brute who’s only form of expression is violence. As far as I can tell, the Middle East is filled with people of various views. Yet you assume that they’re all filled with outrage. Are you blinded by your own hatred of Bush, or self-loathing for America and all it stands for? Many people in the Middle East are thankful for America’s help, or see us as protectors and liberators. The myth that the entire Middle East is against us is just that, a myth. Where are the demonstrations in Iraq against the US? Why aren’t the armed Iraqis attacking us, instead of AQI? Many of our forces in the Middle East are intermingled with native populations. They could kill thousands of us if they chose to do so. And yet, they don’t. Why, if all they’re capable of is hatred for Americans?

hawksruleva on May 14, 2009 at 9:26 AM

Betcha somebody finally looked thru ALL the pix & decided they’re not so nasty after all, and wouldn’t be useful enough to advance the ‘Bad Bush’ agenda …
or they’ve identified some really bad offenders who are related to administration/political mucky-mucks.

CaveatEmpty on May 13, 2009 at 2:56 PM

Nahh. Don’t you remember the liberal strategy with photos? First they refuse to publish them, because they’re too explicit. They get a good lather worked up in the public about how bad the photos must be, then release them. Few people take the time to go look at them. Those that do go, “This is it? The fuss was over this?” Thanks, Prejean, for our most recent example.

hawksruleva on May 14, 2009 at 9:29 AM

O/T, but important…

Mike Gallagher says that same-sex marriage will be the next issue that The Precedent flips on…Gallagher says the Moderates and Independents are polling around 50% in favor of gay marriage, and we all know The Precedent rolls with the polls.

ladyingray on May 14, 2009 at 10:20 AM

I think this is just to postpone the release of the photos after he returns from his trip to Egypt. I don’t really think he doesn’t want to release them…it’s just a matter of timing.

Of course, he doesn’t have a child in the Armed Services that will be at even greater risk.

I hate that man.

ladyingray on May 13, 2009 at 3:02 PM

I think ladyingray hit on the truth here. Remember, it’s all about the messiah.

Wine_N_Dine on May 14, 2009 at 10:32 AM

Power Line attorney, John Hinderaker discussed this issue with Bill Bennett this morning.

At this point, it will take an Executive Order to prevent the pictures from being published for public consumption.

The only leverage to motivate Obama to produce the executive order is the safety of our troops abroad, as Afghanistan is Obama’s War.

John H. Hinderaker is a lawyer with a nationwide litigation practice. For fifteen years Hinderaker has written with his former law partner Scott Johnson on public policy issues including income inequality, income taxes, campaign finance reform, affirmative action, welfare reform, and race in the criminal justice system. Both Hinderaker and Johnson are fellows of the Claremont Institute. Their articles have appeared in National Review, The American Enterprise, American Experiment Quarterly, and newspapers from Florida to California. The Claremont Institute has archived many of their articles here.

Mr. Hinderaker is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School. He is listed in The Best Lawyers In America and was recognized as Minnesota’s Super Lawyer of the Year for 2005.

maverick muse on May 14, 2009 at 10:50 AM

You know, old people were always stupid . . . until I grew up. My parents were total morons . . . until I got some kids of my own.

Do you think it’s possible that BHO is realizing he was mistaken about in thinking that way about GWB?

DuctTapeMyBrain on May 14, 2009 at 11:45 AM

Do you think it’s possible that BHO is realizing he was mistaken about in thinking that way about GWB?

DuctTapeMyBrain on May 14, 2009 at 11:45 AM

Possible. But even if it is, he’ll never be able to do the right thing, he’s not willing to stand up to his party’s far-left nuts.

hawksruleva on May 14, 2009 at 12:06 PM

What about the almost unthinkable possibility that Obama isn’t growing in office at all, but is just trying to stop the fire he started from putting him in jeopardy? Like, it’s all about him.

Nahhhhh. Couldn’t possibly be that.

Loxodonta on May 14, 2009 at 2:53 AM

Exactly! I doubt that a person, who wanted to make soldiers pay for their injuries, really cares for their safety. Releasing the CIA torture files was a learning curve on how to avoid hurting the Superstar status. His screenwriters rewrote this week episode to avoid bad ratings.

It’s funny, all these silly accusations when Bush was the president: being a liar, a fascist, playing “Wag the Dog,” not caring for the soldiers, behaving like Hitler, being a megalomaniac… and lo and behold, the democrats went a head and elected a person that actually IS, all of these things.

Michelle Dubois on May 14, 2009 at 12:11 PM

I just had to see what the DUMmies were saying. Apparently, the photos reveal the shocking use of enhanced makeup techniques.

Personally about the photos, I have seen enough to know it wasn’t some rouge soldiers,

corona on May 14, 2009 at 12:32 PM

I just had to see what the DUMmies were saying. Apparently, the photos reveal the shocking use of enhanced makeup techniques.

Personally about the photos, I have seen enough to know it wasn’t some rouge soldiers,

corona on May 14, 200

HA!!

leftnomore on May 14, 2009 at 7:58 PM

strangelet on May 14, 2009 at 7:30 AM

Simply don’t believe you.

hawkdriver on May 14, 2009 at 10:55 PM

I am very much anti-Obama on many issues but I do see some hopeful signs that at least his socialism has some patriotic roots.

1 He has increased troop strength in Afghanistan.
2 He has at least delayed the closing of Gitmo.
3 He has replaced generals in Afghanistan choosing a leader more attuned to waging an anti-guerrilla warfare campaign.
4 He has stopped what would have been psychologically devastating alleged prisoner abuse photos which would have cost American lives.

Whatever the reasons were for doing the above, the fact is he did them. Of course it might all be academic if the entire economy collapses like a California hillside during the rainy season. Like it or not we are stuck with him for at least four years and have to cheer even tiny victories.

MaiDee on May 15, 2009 at 12:00 PM

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