Barack Obama’s decision not to release the bin Laden photos put me in mind of another photo scandal. Cast your thoughts back to April, 2009, when stories like this one in the Los Angeles Times headlined “Obama administration to release Bush-era detainee photos” were in bloom:
The Obama administration agreed late Thursday to release dozens of photographs depicting alleged abuses at U.S. prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush White House.
The decision will make public for the first time photos obtained in military investigations at facilities other than the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
That, you see, was “spiking the football,” and not after scoring against al Qaeda, but against the Bush administration. Eventually the Obama administration came to its senses and held the photos back. But it’s more than slightly irksome that when it came to evidence of American misconduct the president’s instincts were practically exhibitionist and when it’s time to confirm American strength and achievement, bashfulness sets in.
UPDATE: According to today’s Telegraph (take that as you will), “President Barack Obama is to release up to 2,000 photographs of alleged abuse at American prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan in a move which will reignite the scandal surrounding Abu Ghraib prison in 2004.” If this is accurate (and no one yet is confirming it), its concurrence with Obama’s refusal to release the bin Laden photos it is an example of spectacular and offensive White House discombobulation beyond imagining.