Congress already made sure the Obama administration wouldn’t have to release photos of detainee abuse, but on Monday, the Supreme Court told the government the same thing: no worries.
A federal appeals court ordered the photos, which the ACLU is seeking under the Freedom of Information Act, released earlier this year. But the Obama administration convinced Congress to pass a law that allows the executive branch to unilaterally withhold any detainee photos it wants to keep secret. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the court earlier this month that he would use the power granted to him by the new law to withhold the photos that are the subject of the ACLU’s lawsuit. The high court’s decision instructs the appeals court to reconsider its decision in light of the new law and Gates’ announcement.
Supporters of releasing the photos shouldn’t blame the courts for their continued suppression. Now that Congress has given the Obama administration almost unlimited power to suppress detainee abuse photos, the blame for using that power lies with the president himself. This isn’t John Roberts’ problem. It’s Barack Obama’s.