The Corner

The President’s Reversal

President Obama has done a good and important thing by reversing himself on a previous commitment. According to Politico:

In a dramatic and high-profile reversal for his young administration, President Barack Obama is seeking to block the release of 44 photographs depicting abuse of detainees in U.S. military custody in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Justice Department had already agreed to release the photos by May 28 in response to a lawsuit, but Obama is shifting course. “Last week, the President met with his legal team and told them that he did not feel comfortable with the release of the DOD photos because he believes their release would endanger our troops, and because he believes that the national security implications of such a release have not been fully presented to the court,” said a White House official who asked not to be named. “At the end of that meeting, the President directed his counsel to object to the immediate release of the photos on those grounds,” the official said…. “the President strongly believes that the release of these photos, particularly at this time, would only serve the purpose of inflaming the theaters of war, jeopardizing US forces, and making our job more difficult in places like Iraq and Afghanistan,” the White House official said.

What motivated Obama to take this action is impossible to know. Divining our own motivations on things we do is hard enough; trying to judge the motivations of others is far more difficult. All I can say is that the president has done the right thing — if in my judgment the blindingly obvious thing — in this instance. To have released these photos would have been a reckless and irresponsible act, one he would have quickly come to regret. There are those on the Left who will be unhappy with Obama; he should treat their unhappiness as a badge of honor. Whether on the matter of detainees at Guantanamo Bay or the war in Iraq or the release of these photographs, Obama is finding out — as does every Oval Office occupant — that the duties of being president are not simple as campaign slogans.

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