Not content with my confusion over President Obama’s statement that the torture photographs he’s no longer in favor of releasing "are not particularly sensational," I asked Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, about it. It’s the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act request for the photos (and subsequent lawsuit), after all, that prompted this whole issue. So how does Jaffer think Obama can justify his characterization of the photos?

"I don’t know how," Jaffer said. "It seemed like an odd thing for him to say." He had no idea what, if any, photographs the president saw. Nor does the ACLU know what exactly the photographs detail. Its FOIA was for information relevant to the abuse of prisoners, and extends beyond the Abu Ghraib abuse with which everyone’s familiar. "Beyond that, we don’t know," Jaffer said.

"We’re asking [for the photos] because we believe they would add to the historical record, provide further evidence that the abuse was systematic rather than abberational, and underscore the need to hold senior officials accountable," he added.

Crossposted to The Streak.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman