Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

And Now…The Guantanamo Photos | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The images of the horrific torture and degrading treatment seen in Abu Ghraib prison will return to provoke a new storm. Though it might not be as loud or intense as when the images first came to light in 2004, it will certainly not pass quietly.

Additional images [from Abu Ghraib] will appear as evidence that the mistreatment that the detainees were subjected to was far more violent than previously revealed, and that these actions were not merely individual errors but were systematic practices that occurred all over Abu Ghraib prison.

These forthcoming photographs will become accessible after US President Barack Obama approved their release. These pictures will reveal more examples of US abuse of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Pictures from inside Guantanamo Bay during the George W. Bush administration will be [officially] released for the first time.

The Abu Ghraib torture scandal was part of a series of scandals that took place following the US war on Iraq, revealing the extent to which democracy and rule of law have declined in both their assumed goals and methods during this period. But the issue today takes on another dimension, this time with regards to the accountability [of these crimes], as we are yet to see any accountability.

The publication of these pictures will take place at the end of May in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] which is forcing the Pentagon to release these images.

Legally speaking, under the Charter of the United Nations, the United States is obliged to prosecute those responsible in the Bush administration that drafted the torture policy for detainees and approved the use of severe measures in the interrogation of prisoners during the so-called “war on terror.” President Obama has opened the door to the possibility of trying former government officials responsible for legitimizing torture, although he gave CIA agents [that implemented these orders] legal protection. This is a move that has raised a lot of questions and criticism from activists and lawyers who wanted to bring to account those in the former administration who carried out practices that harmed the image of the US, and resulted in the abuse of those who were subject to these practices.

So it is now time for legal accountability; or at least that is what we assume.

Let us come back to the role of the media and photography as a part of a civilized and legal society, as there are rules for the media for it to play the role of observer in the correct manner.

Once again the American media will condemn its own regime.

Media freedom cannot exist alone, nor can it be effective unless it is part of a completely free and just system.

These pictures that will be released soon will rekindle hatred of America amongst the dissidents in our society who are unaware that whilst it was America that committed these heinous acts, it was also America that uncovered these crimes that took place at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Guantanamo Bay. This balance is very important and something that these dissidents cannot comprehend in their view of the West.

When will our newspapers be able to reveal the secrets and images of our prisons before we even aspire towards accountability?