The Common Good

Pentagon Blocks Release of Detainee Abuse Photos -- Obama Agrees

The release of photos of Americans supposedly treating imprisoned suspected terrorists badly has been blocked by the Pentagon and President Obama. The official reason for this is that there is concern the public release of them will further endanger American troops serving overseas. It is suspected that included in the photos are pictures of Americans holding guns to the heads of detainees handcuffed and with their heads covered. I can only assume that these pictures do exist, or that they are even worse, since there is such worry about their release.

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What concerns me most in this situation is that our leaders expect more outrage from our enemies than from us over the inhumane treatment of defenseless persons. Of course, if we saw pictures of Americans being treated like this, or anyone else for that matter as long as it's not an American pointing the gun, we would be outraged. Perhaps the unspoken reason for the blockage of their release may be that if the American public saw them much of our leadership's legitimacy may be shaken, but I find that doubtful considering the lack of any long-lasting outrage over Abu Ghraib. At its best the United States has stood for principles like justice, freedom, dignity, equality, and human rights. At its worst it has used those ideals as a cover for murder, genocide, unjust war and exploitation. More often than not in the "War on Terror" it has seemed we have leaned more toward the latter than the former.

As a Christian and someone who is informed by that conviction to be an engaged and responsible citizen I am deeply saddened by all of the reports of torture and inhumane treatment that have surfaced over the last several years. I believe this has seriously weakened America's moral standing in the world, nearly erased any claim we may have once had about respecting human rights, and caused us to in part become exactly what we claim to be fighting and hoping to remove from the world. It is sinful to take innocent life and it is sinful to torture and demean humans created in the image of God. As Christians, we worship a God who was beaten and mocked when imprisoned and defenseless. It seems this same behavior has now been done to others in our name. It is time for confession and repentance. May no one be tortured in the name of America again.

portrait-jimmy-mccartyJimmy McCarty is a doctoral student at Emory University in the Graduate Division of Religion studying Ethics and Society. He blogs at

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