Detainee Abuse Photo Suppression Bill Passes

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President Obama has won his fight to ensure that the Defense Department can conceal evidence of its employees’ wrongdoing. On Thursday, the House passed a measure allowing the DoD to withhold essentially any photos of detainee abuse that it doesn’t want the public to see. The move is a huge defeat for the ACLU, which has been fighting a years-long legal battle to obtain such photos under the Freedom of Information Act. But now an amendment  sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), makes all that moot and slashes a huge hole in FOIA. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) was a key figure in stopping Lieberman’s photo suppression bill the first time around. In a floor speech Thursday, she explained that this time, the provision was slipped into the Homeland Security spending bill during the conference between House and Senate negotiators—”apparently under direct orders from the Administration.”

I’ve written before about how poorly President Obama’s support for this photo suppression measure reflects on his promise of transparency. It would actually be a mistake to blame the sponsor, Joe Lieberman, for its passage. This would never have happened without the administration’s support. And this latest move does not bode well for the prospects of achieving accountability for torture. If this administration can’t even bring itself to release years-old photos of detainee abuse, how will it ever bring those responsible for torture to justice?

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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