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Carter to release some detainee abuse photos, but withholds majority

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Ash CarterDefense Secretary Ash Carter has moved to block the release of about 2,000 photos of detainees allegedly abused in U.S. military custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he parted with his predecessors by agreeing to release about 200 such photos that have been under wraps for years, according to a new court filing.

Carter signed a certification last month invoking his authority under a 2009 law to refuse disclosure of the photos under the Freedom of Information Act. The legal provision was passed after President Barack Obama, who initially acquiesced to release of the images, did an about-face and called on Congress to pass legislation to keep them secret.

"I have determined that public disclosure of any of the photographs would 'endanger citizens of the United States, members of the United States Armed Forces, or employees of the United States Government deployed outside the United States,'" Carter wrote in the Nov. 7 notice (posted here). The secretary said he consulted the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as the commanders of U.S. Central Command, U.S. Forces in Afghanistan and the U.S. Africa Command.

Former defense secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta signed similar certifications during their tenures, but U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled in February of this year that Panetta's 2012 certification was legally deficient because it was not based on a review of each image or a reliable sampling process.


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