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Detainee abuse: Would release of more photos help or hurt US?

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A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

Somewhere in the Pentagon is a folder with 21 color photographs. The photos contain images of US security personnel abusing detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan – the latest, and potentially most explosive, in a series of controversial photos that first came to light in 2003 and sparked outrage around the world.

Who, if anyone, gets to see the photos has ignited a power tussle between the Pentagon, the Obama administration, the Supreme Court, and proponents of the Freedom of Information Act.

At stake, some observers contend, is a fair and democratic reckoning of how the US military treats suspects and prisoners in the war on terrorism, and what it will be allowed to suppress going forward.

The American Civil Liberties Union had successfully pursued a case for the release of the photos. In an attempt to block the release, the Obama administration appealed to the US Supreme Court. But before the high court could decide whether to take up the case, Congress stepped in. [Editor's note: The original version misstated the duration of the ACLU's case and wrongly stated that the US Supreme Court had agreed to hear it.]

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