By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Our View: Obama wrong to try to suppress photos
Placeholder Image
President Obama's decision to try to block the release of photos showing U.S. troops abusing prisoners is disappointing. Understandable, but disappointing.

The president on Wednesday reversed his earlier position on the photos, which was to comply with the orders of two federal courts to have them released. The Justice Department now is considering appealing those orders to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Obama's reversal apparently came at the urging of American commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, who worried that the release of the photos would put U.S. troops in even greater danger.

"The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger," Obama said Wednesday while explaining his new position.

That logic is understandable. Of course, no one wants to put American troops in further danger. It is more likely, however, that the real damage would be done in the world court of public opinion rather than the battlefield. (Both federal courts dismissed the Bush administration's claims of potential harm to military personnel as speculative.)

Regardless, the principles that should prevail in this case are government openness, and compliance with the courts. Instead, both are taking a back seat.

Obama, the candidate, campaigned on a pledge of open government. He put forth a self-image as a champion of transparency, acknowledging that being open sometimes would be painful for him politically, or for the country. Apparently, the abuse photos have crossed the president's tolerance threshold for political pain.

Promoting anything but full disclosure in compliance with the courts flies in the face of democracy, and diminishes the public's ability to hold the government accountable for its actions. Our government should be in the business of providing as much information as possible, rather than deciding what the public should see and shouldn't see.

That, we suspect, was not the kind of government wanted, or expected, when the public voted for our current president.