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Report: Iraq abuse photos depict torture, rape

A former U.S. general said graphic images are among the photos of Iraqi prisoner abuse that President Barack Obama's administration does not want released.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A former U.S. general said graphic images of rape and torture are among the photos of Iraqi prisoner abuse that President Barack Obama's administration does not want released.

Retired Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, who oversaw the U.S. investigation into the abuses at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, was quoted as telling Britain's Daily Telegraph in an article Wednesday that he agreed with Obama's decision not to release the pictures.

"I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them," Taguba was quoted by the Daily Telegraph. "The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it."

It was not exactly clear what photos Taguba was referring to.

A U.S. military official in Baghdad, however, said "the photos referred to are ones that Taguba is not aware of." The official spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because he was not authorized to release the information.

On Thursday, the Obama administration asked a federal appeals court in New York on Thursday to cancel its decision ordering the images' release. The court papers cite two partially secret statements from top U.S. generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno.

The administration had planned to release the photos until Obama reversed the decision this month, saying their release would endanger U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Releasing the photos poses "a clear and grave risk of inciting violence and riots against American and coalition forces, as well as civilian personnel, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan," according to the motion filed with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court.

The photos were ordered released as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. The Bush administration had fought their release, and lost. The court ruled in September 2008 that general concerns about public safety were not specific enough to merit blocking the release of the photos.

The motion filed Thursday also notes the government plans to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. Congress is also considering stepping in to block the photos' release.

The military referred all questions on Taguba's comments to Washington. The Obama administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Iraqis called for an investigation into the Daily Telegraph report.

"The Iraqi government must demand the reopening of the Abu Ghraib scandal case again," said Ali Kadom, 45, who works at the Ministry of Transportation.

Khalid Bashi, 35, a trade office owner in Baghdad, said Obama should release the photos to put a stop to a possible scandal.

"Sooner or later, more scandals will appear that show crimes against humanity carried out by American troops in Iraq," Bashi said.

The prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib exploded after photos taken by soldiers appeared in 2004.

According to the Telegraph, the new photos depicted much more serious abuses than previously documented. One photo reportedly showed an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner and another was said to show a male translator raping a male detainee, the paper reported.

The Telegraph said the photos related to 400 cases of alleged abuse between 2001 and 2005 at Abu Ghraib and six other prisons. It was not immediately clear from the newspaper report who had seen the photos or how they might have been obtained.

The newspaper said the images in the photos were backed up by statements from Taguba's report into prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib obtained under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.