April 24th, 2009
05:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Pentagon: Photos do not show systemic detainee abuse

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/24/art.getty.pentagon.jpg caption="Pentagon officials said the photographs are from more than 60 criminal investigations from 2001 to 2006 and show military personnel allegedly abusing detainees."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Pentagon will release "hundreds" of photographs showing alleged abuse of prisoners in detention in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2006, Pentagon officials said Friday, but they maintained they did not show a systemic problem.

"I think it will be in the hundreds," said one official, who said the photos - not yet seen by the public – would be released by the end of May.

On Thursday the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the Pentagon had agreed to release a "substantial" number of photographs by May 28 in response to an open-records lawsuit filed by organization. Pentagon officials said the photos were taken at facilities other than Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Friday, Pentagon officials said the photographs are from more than 60 criminal investigations from 2001 to 2006 and show military personnel allegedly abusing detainees.

The officials rejected ACLU allegations that photos show a systemic pattern of abuse by the military.

"These photographs provide visual proof that prisoner abuse by U.S. personnel was not aberrational but widespread, reaching far beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib," Amrit Singh, an ACLU attorney, said in a statement. "What this demonstrates is that we have always been serious about investigating credible allegations of abuse," said Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman.

"The policy of the Department of Defense is to treat all prisoners humanly, and those who have violated that policy have been investigated and disciplined," Whitman said.

More than 400 individuals were disciplined over numerous investigations involving detainee abuse, according to Whitman. Punishments ranged from prison sentences to demotions and letters of reprimand, he said.

The Pentagon decided to release the pictures after two court cases ruled against the Department of Defense– which wanted to prevent the images from being put into the public domain, according to Whitman.

"We felt this case had pretty much run its course," he said. "Legal options at this point had become pretty limited," Whitman said.

On Thursday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressed concerns about the photo release, explaining that terrorist groups like al Qaeda could exploit the photos for such purpose as recruiting terrorists or inciting violence. But Gates admitted it was inevitable that much of the material would end up in the public domain.

"I think pretending that we could hold all of this and keep it all a secret even if we wanted to... was probably unrealistic," Gates said Thursday while visiting the Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune, NC.

Filed under: Pentagon
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Jimmy the Greek

    The ACLU case and Obama's failure to challenge the lower court decision is undermining our National Security.

    It is being widely reported that members of the CIA are voicing major concerns how this Administration is failing to support their efforts. This chilling effect extends beyond the CIA to the FBI and our military.

    Congratulations to the ACLU and American-Hating Liberals. You have done what terrorists have so desperatedly tried to do.... destroying morale and the ability to wage an effective campaign against terrorists.

    April 24, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  2. Moderate Democrat

    If there's no abuse, then release ALL photo's...not just some. What do you have to hide after all?

    But in regards to this torture subject, hey:
    Let me answer this as sarcastically as possible, but keep in mind, it’s the exact same logic that cheney and other passionate advocates of torture use:

    I agree with Dick Cheney that if it saves american life, then anything should be legal and endorsed, and pursued. I just don’t understand why we haven’t lined up every single muslim child in the world and shot them through the head. Let’s build prisons, on foreign soil, and ship all the muslims to the prisons, round them up and shoot them. Or maybe we could gas them!

    Ya know, war is ugly, thank god we have people like Cheney willing to shoot kids in the head!

    April 24, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. Common Sense

    Is this the same "Pentagon" that lied about how Pat Tillman died and tried to cover the truth up for months on end? Is the "Pentagon" that lied about what really happened to Jessica Lynch?

    And I should believe what they say because ..... ????

    April 24, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  4. t pipe

    Question for the ACLU
    What American's civil liberties are you defending by getting these pictures released?

    April 24, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. Melissa

    You'll have to excuse me if I find anything from the Republicans to be suspect as to their validity.

    April 24, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  6. barking republican ankle biters

    Hitler hid photos of the prison camps,just like Cheney tried to do.

    April 24, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. JonDie

    The abuse was, no doubt, sanctioned by high-ranking officials like Bush, Cheney and Gonzalez. Criminal charges are warranted. As long as the underlings who committed the crimes testify for the government, they should not be punished.

    April 24, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  8. Shecky

    I think we should line up everybody who's a member of the ACLU and torture THEM.

    April 24, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  9. Karen - Missouri

    Keep in mind, some of the posters, that when this country sets aside the Geneva Convention, our own troops will be at risk for greater torture if caught and the opposing side will just say they don't have to follow the Geneva Convention because we didn't. Bush and Cheney put our own troops in great peril by setting aside the Geneva C. We had ENOUGH problems with Vietnam, I'd hate to see future problems just because Bush and Cheney wanted to play dictator and bully.

    Bottom line is that bin Laden has ALWAYS been in Afghanistan and the U.S. PUT HIM THERE TO BUILD OIL LINES. so why did we waste so much time in Iraq???? Daddy's war. Bush is a warmonger...period. It was all about oil...check out the background of Bush, Cheney, and Rice and find the timeline from Carter's time through current. Your eyes will be opened.

    We don't need the photos...we already know what's been happening.

    April 24, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |