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The Wright Perspective℠

Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠

A Blog by Gary Wright II

Gates and Obama block release of torture photos

Saturday November 28th, 2009

Despite his campaign promise, President Obama fulfilled Gate's request to block the public release of a series of photographs depicting torture.

If you read my recent blog on the Marine photo controversy - you might know what I'm about to say:

A stupid move! Obama says he blocked the release because the photos would be damaging to the US. I strongly disagree!

First, it isn't the photographs that are the problem. It is THE ACT of torture taking place that causes much of the hatred against us.

Second, the people in the world who hate the United States have already made up their minds. No photograph is going to change them or convert them from one side to the other.

Third, many argue, "What good could come of it?" Well, the public release of the photos would be a first step in acknowledging the horrors of the previous administration and making sure they never happen again. The release would have been a perfect opportunity to deliver the transparency and accountability the current administration promised us.

This series of photographs is not the first time a President has been forced to make a tough call like this. I am reminded of a similar situation in the not so distant past where Roosevelt made the right decision.

Washington, DC in the Spring of 1944
Norman Hatch and his team recorded lots of footage of Marines fighting in the war, but it was too graphic to be shown to the public. President Roosevelt asked advice from trusted Time Life Magazine reporter Robert Sherrod who was there at the battle as a military correspondent.

Sherrod said, "I told the President the truth. Our soldiers on the front want people back home to know that they don't knock the hell out of them every day of every battle. They want people to understand that war is a horrible, nasty business, and to say otherwise, is to do a disservice to those who died."

After urging from Sherrod, the President released the film uncensored. The film "With the Marines at Tarawa" won the academy award for best documentary short subject of 1945, it boosted sales of war bonds, and galvanized the public support for the American war effort.

The images of war are truly horrible - but every citizen should understand the true costs of war. War must only be used when all else fails.

Despite numerous wars, our country is still striving to achieve an ideal that was articulated in a speech over sixty years ago:

"The eyes of the world are upon you. ... Grant us a common faith that man shall know bread and peace, that he shall know justice and righteousness, freedom and security, an equal opportunity and an equal chance to do his best not only in our own lands, but throughout the world."

Best regards,

-- Gary Wright II

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