Saturday, July 4, 2009

Soros: Seeking Accountability for Torture—Photography as Evidence

Soros: Seeking Accountability for Torture—Photography as Evidence

There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

—Retired Maj. Gen. Anthony Taguba, from
Broken Laws, Broken Lives(Physicians for Human Rights)

Five years after the release of the Abu Ghraib photos—images that shocked the world with their graphic depiction of abuse, humiliation, and torture of detainees—the U.S. debates the release of additional torture photographs.

The Department of Justice had been scheduled to release photos on May 28 believed to document abuse of detainees by U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, under a Freedom of Information Act suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. However on May 13, President Barack Obama reversed course and blocked the release of the photos, citing concerns that the images would "further inflame anti-American opinion" and endanger troops.

Meanwhile, public support builds for a nonpartisan commission to investigate and report on cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees held since September 11, 2001.

The Open Society Institute presented a discussion of these issues and the role of documentary photography in providing accountability for torture and depicting the human stories behind these abuses.


  • Matthew Alexander, former Air Force Interrogator, Iraq
  • Chris Bartlett, Photographer (Moving Walls 15 Exhibition)
  • Susan Burke, Attorney, Burke O'Neil LLC
  • Allen Keller, Director of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, New York University Medical Center
  • Stephen Rickard, Director, Open Society Institute-Washington D.C. (Moderator)

Amy Yenkin, Director of the the Open Society Institute Documentary Photography Project, introduced the event.

This event was jointly sponsored by the Open Society Institute's Documentary Photography Project and National Security and Human Rights Campaign.

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