It’s hard not to view today’s reversal by the White House, announcing that photos of detainee abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq will not be released to the public, as a sign of how long and hard they think the slog is ahead in Afghanistan — and how crucial the outcome there will be for the future success of this Administration.
Obama has installed a new commander in Afghanistan who is steeped in counterinsurgency doctrine and devoted considerable resources and political capital to a new strategy there. I’m speculating, but the White House and Pentagon must not have cherished the idea of having their new start in Afghanistan undermined by the release of pictures that would further inflame the Muslim world.
That’s not a defense of the decision. I think it’s a bad one. But it’s an ominous decision for reasons that go beyond upholding the spirit of FOIA.