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See no evil, it's still evil

Although we'd rather not, it's important that we see the latest round of torture photographs from Abu Ghraib.
 
 
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The ACLU will appear before a federal judge today to seek the release of the Defense Department's 87 photographs and four videotapes depicting the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

I am the kind of person who can't bear looking at violence. I don't rubberneck on the freeway and I cover my ears and shut my eyes at any images of violence in movies, whether its fiction or documentary. Someone usually needs to nudge me hard to let me know it's safe to look again.

With these images of U.S. soldiers engaging in torture, we all need to be nudged. They are, by the accounts of Donald Rumsfeld and members of Congress, more violent than the last images, which were plenty gruesome. According to NBC, they show "American soldiers beating one prisoner almost to death, apparently raping a female prisoner, acting inappropriately with a dead body, and taping Iraqi guards raping young boys."

It will be close to unbearable to stare fully at these images, but the abuse of these prisoners was done in our name and so it is our responsibility to bear witness and then see if, within ourselves, we can remain silent. These images are the counterpoint to the images of Cindy Sheehan and the veterans against the war in Texas. The images of torture along with the images of those mourning mothers, both Iraqi and American, tell the truth of the war, a truth that may finally force America as a whole to insist on the end of the whole bloody mess.

The government is arguing against the release of the images because "the democratic idea of public accountability... is misunderstood in other parts of the world." In other words, the rest of the world is stupid.

However Anthony Romero, ACLU Executive Director, has this response:

"Accountability isn't 'misunderstood' by the world, it's misunderstood by the Bush administration and it hasn't happened. That's why the American public has a right to see these images for itself."

Rachel Neumann is Rights & Liberties Editor at AlterNet.