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Photos Don't Lie...
Americans Have the Right to Know!
By Jerri Ann Lewis
Edited by Megan Maloy

To release or not to release, that is the question concerning many lawmakers since the exposure of recent photos regarding the abusive treatment of many Iraqi prisoners of war by American and British soldiers. Since the leak of several of the photos into national newspapers and television reports, the debate on the release of the more than 1,600 pictures of humiliation and violence is currently being contemplated by U.S. officials. After the eruption of stories by the press our legislators were allowed to view the numerous unpublicized photographs, as well as videos, to get a better sense of the cruelty Iraqi prisoners endured. Many members of congress left the room feeling sick and disgusted. However, many also had serious viewpoints on whether or not these horrific scenes should be displayed to the nation.

While there are various perspectives on the subject, the main concern is for the thousands of soldiers that remain in Iraq and Afghanistan. Legislators fear the progression of "anti-American sentiments" could possibly "inspire the enemy" to retaliate.1 However, evidence of this hatred is already being shown by the numerous attacks upon U.S. military and civilians that has already occurred since the first handful of pictures rolled onto the presses. "The US death toll in Iraq has risen to 782, the coalition said, after one US soldier was killed in a roadside bombing late Saturday [May 15, 2004]."2

We do not want any more lives lost due to senseless hatred and prejudices. The dishonorable actions that have transpired between our American soldiers and Iraqi prisoners, as well as vice versa, must be aired in order for a better world. Some members of Congress, including Senator Lindsey Graham, feel the depictions of abuse need to be seen so that we as a nation can "get this behind us."3 Making these offenses public for discussion may be the first step in healing the ill-thoughts between all of those involved.

Americans should have the right to view the photos since it is many Americans who have family members, both soldiers and civilians, in enemy territory that have already been put in jeopardy. We should have access to the same knowledge as our adversaries. We have the right to know if our brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends are being ordered to perform these vicious acts and why. We should also be aware of the consequences of such actions to other American lives, including our own. However, the Bush Administration would rather continue keeping us in the dark while "reforming" the countries of our sworn enemies.

These pictures are of interest to everyone not only for the injustices that occurred, but to aid in pinpointing the person(s) on the chain of command responsible for these injustices. "We're not just looking at the four or five Guard and Reserve people who were involved in some of these photographs," said [Senator Jay] Rockefeller. "I'm interested in how far up the chain this reaches."4 Nonetheless, the Bush Administration has allowed these incidents to happen during their term and the fault ultimately falls upon them. They must be held accountable for disgracing our great nation.

In conclusion, the only answer is to release the photos so that we can "move on" and out of a world that currently seems to revolve around hate. Quoting Senator Carl Levin, "The only way that we can redeem ourselves ... is to enforce our values, and doing that in a very open, thorough and prompt process."5 Perhaps, "airing our dirty laundry" will be the first step on the path to having our country led by an administration that everyone can admire.

1 Emmanuel N. Jackson "Choose a side: Should the Iraqi Prison Photos Be Released?", May13,2004.
2 AFP, "No Let-up in Shite Uprising as Iraq Prisoners Abuse Scandal Rages On," Yahoo News, May 16, 2004.
3 AFP, "US braces for new disturbing accounts of Iraqi prisoner abuse," Yahoo News, May 10, 2004.
4 Emmanuel N. Jackson "Choose a side: Should the Iraqi Prison Photos Be Released?", May13,2004.
5 AFP, "US lawmakers debate release of prison abuse images," Yahoo News, May 13, 2004.

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