[JURIST] The decision to not release photographs [JURIST report] allegedly depicting detainee abuse followed warnings from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [official website, in Arabic; BBC profile] that releasing the photos would cause more violence and could delay the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, according to a McClatchy report [text] published Monday. According to the report, Maliki warned that the public would not differentiate between new and old photographs and may try to oust US troops from the country. A referendum is supposed to be held before the end of July to discuss the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [text, PDF], which sets a 2011 deadline for the withdrawal of US troops. If rejected, the US would have to withdraw their troops earlier than planned. In a letter [text, PDF] to President Barack Obama, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] maintained that suppressing the photos to prevent public outrage is "inconsistent with democratic principles." The ACLU recommends that the release of the photos be accompanied by a reaffirmation to the world that the US "repudiates such barbaric behavior and is committed to dismantling the culture that allowed it to occur."
On Monday, the US Supreme Court [official website] issued an order [JURIST report] allowing the government more time to appeal a ruling [order, PDF] mandating the release of photos allegedly depicting detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan. The order followed a US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] request to recall the mandate requiring the release of the photos to afford the agency more time to file a petition for certiorari. The delay would also allow Congress more time to pass legislation [S 1100 materials] aimed at exempting the disclosure of certain photographs under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text] where such release would endanger US personnel. Last week, the Pentagon denied [Reuters report] allegations [JURIST report] made by former US Major General Antonio Taguba that the photographs of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison depict acts of rape and sexual assault. The original district court order mandating the release of the photos resulted from a FOIA challenge [ACLU materials] brought by the ACLU against the Department of Defense (DOD) [official website]. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] affirmed the order in April.