POLITICS

Kerry: Detainee Photos Could Be Terrorist Propaganda, But Truth Is Important

05/25/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Senate foreign relations committee chairman John Kerry said on Friday that he was concerned the release of photos depicting the abusive treatment of detainees in U.S. custody could become "propaganda tool" for terrorist organizations.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, the Massachusetts Democrat was asked to respond to news that the Department of Defense would be releasing 44 photos pertaining to the harsh handling of detainees at prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I think showing the truth is always important," said Kerry. "But I do think it will be used as a propaganda tool and have some damaging impact. But this didn't happen under Obama, it happened under Bush and every one understands that."

Kerry stressed in the interview that this was not a decision made by the Obama administration. "They are not releasing them because they want to, but because there was a FOIA request and a judge is ordering them released," he said.

He also stressed that Obama had put an end to these interrogation tactics, which would, in due course, eliminate a galvanizing tool used by these same terrorist cells. "We are trying to move to a new place," he said, "and we have ended these policies." But he did concede that the pictures "will be used as a tool... as were the other photos [from Abu Ghraib]."

The remarks were part of a broader discussion with the Senator on current state of American foreign policy.

The release of the 44 photographs comes in response to an American Civil Liberties Union Freedom of Information Act request for all information relating to detainee treatment. Last week, the Obama White House released four OLC memos in response to the same FOIA request.

Lawyers for the ACLU hailed the move as another nod towards a more transparent approach by the White House. But CIA officials told ABC News that they were disappointed the Obama administration did not fight the FOIA request up to the Supreme Court.

"They should have fought it all the way; if they lost, they lost," said Dr. Mark M. Lowenthal, former Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis and Production. "There's nothing to be gained from it. There's no substantive reason why those photos have to be released."

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