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Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 21, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Torture photos

Obama’s decision reveals policy, not judgment

The Times’ lead editorial on Monday approved of President Obama’s judgment in the “kerfuffle” over the release of photos showing abuse of prisoners. But Obama is not exercising judgment; he is formulating policy. It is the same policy that has been pushed in the administration’s decision to oppose private lawsuits on the basis that state secrets might be exposed, and in its decision to argue that Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan should replace “Gitmo” as a place where people can be shipped in from other countries and stripped of all opportunity to claim that they are being held by mistake.

What The Times characterizes as an exercise in judgment is in fact an assertion of a legal argument that would apply not only to these photos, but to all information sought now and in the future under the Freedom of Information Act. Obama is ordering his government to appeal a Court of Appeals decision stating that the government cannot withhold information about what it is doing just because it says it can, in the court’s words, “point to a group composed of millions of people and establish that it could reasonably be expected that someone in that group will be endangered.”

If The Seattle Times wants to join the government in arguing against the Court of Appeals decision, perhaps it should remove from its pages anything that might reasonably be expected to endanger someone. The Times could start by eliminating its editorial, which refers to abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. Doesn’t this editorial present and amplify information that could endanger our troops? The most likely reason is that The Times does not seriously think that the troops are being needlessly endangered.

More likely, the troops are being used as a straw man in a struggle over the power of the federal executive. But even if that is not the case, would The Seattle Times please explain why we should put our troops in danger to protect our freedom and then put our freedom in danger to protect our troops?

— Lynn Petersen, Coupeville

Comments | More in Barack Obama administration

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