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Obama fights release of abuse photos

WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- The Obama administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court Friday to block release of photos showing abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Releasing the photos would "pose a significant risk to the lives and physical safety" of U.S. military and civilian personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan," U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan wrote in a motion, Politico reported.

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In September 2008, a federal appeals court ordered the government to turn over the photos in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

But Kagan argued the federal appeals court erred when it interpreted an exemption to the act based on danger to "any individual" meant the government had to identify a person or small group at risk of harm, Politico said.

"There is no reason to believe that Congress, in enacting (the exemption) placed such a low value on human life and safety as the court of appeal's decision would indicate in order to promote FOIA's interest in public disclosure of agency records," Kagan wrote.

Friday's motion said photos show U.S. soldiers pointing guns at the heads of hooded and handcuffed detainees and that one image shows a soldier acting as if he is sexually violating a detainee with a broom handle, the newspaper reported.

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The Bush administration had fought release of the photos. President Barack Obama initially supported their release, but changed his mind after military officials convinced him the images would endanger U.S. forces and cause an anti-American backlash abroad.

The ACLU said the appeals court had rejected all the government's arguments for withholding the photos.

"As disturbing as the photos may be, it is critical that the American people know the full truth about the abuse that occurred in their name," Amrit Singh, an ACLU staff attorney, said in a statement Friday.

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