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Censored Photos Reportedly Show Rape, Sexual Abuse of Prisoners

The Daily Telegraph reports that some of the photos of prisoner abuse that President Obama has refused to release — after earlier promising to make them public — depict the brutal rape and sexual abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

These details apparently come from retired Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who led an inquiry into the abuse at Abu Ghraib and described allegations of rape and abuse in a 2004 report, though he never mentioned these photos at that time. The Telegraph reports that Taguba has now confirmed their existence.

I’ve written before that perhaps Obama’s decision to withhold the photos wasn’t as outrageous as some have suggested, if they just depict the same abuses we already know about. But these revelations suggest that they depict something more — which weighs heavily in favor of their disclosure.

Perhaps the most important reason for Obama to release the photos, as a federal court has already ordered him to, is simply that it will re-focus public attention on the torture, humiliation and abuse of prisoners sanctioned by senior Bush administration officials. They could also renew calls for a criminal investigation not just of “a few bad apples” at Abu Ghraib but of the higher-ups who, given the recently released Office Of Legal Counsel memos that explicitly authorized torture on foreign soil, likely paved the way for the abuse.

In recent weeks, Republicans have managed to shift the focus from the criminal acts of the past administration to, ironically, terrorizing the U.S. population about the possible transfer of alleged al-Qaeda supporters imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay to maximum-security prisons in the United States.

The release of photos depicting the rape of prisoners held by U.S. forces would shift the attention back where it belongs — to the real criminal acts that occurred.

Of course, that may be exactly why Obama, who’s still intent on not “looking backward,” doesn’t want to release them.

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