Last month, there was apparently no threat to national security or to our fighting men and women overseas by releasing photos of detainee abuse from facilities across the globe. A few minutes ago (it is 2:30 p.m. now), White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs articulated a complete and total, 180-degree shift in policy from the Oval Office.
Releasing the photos, Gibbs said on behalf of the president, does nothing for verifying that unfortunate incidents of detainee abuse are in fact being investigated. That information, he said, is widely available on government Web sites. Essentially, it came down to a cost-benefit tradeoff — Obama’s hope to apologize to all and hang our military and intelligence community out to dry was overcome by pressure from those same communities about downhill consequences. The AP and others say that there was pressure from the Defense Department, while Gibbs insists that Obama came about this decision on his own.
I’ve said before that I would praise the president when he makes a correct decision — here, though I don’t like his initial instincts on this issue, and though it took him a while to come to the decision, I applaud Barack Obama for doing so.