Obama's Photo Flip-Flop Has Political Roots

White House wasn't prepared for scale of torture outrage
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2009 6:26 AM CDT
A foot shackle is bolted to a floor covered by a decorative carpet, inside Interview Room 1, Cell Block A at Camp 5 maximum security prison, Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba.    (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama's about-face on the release of photographs of abused detainees has angered civil libertarian groups, who have denounced the president for turning back on campaign promises. But as Politico writes, the move demonstrated how carefully the administration is treading on an issue that has become explosive, subsuming George Bush's legacy and threatening Nancy Pelosi's career. "It will not go away, and wishing it away won’t work," says one Clinton-era aide.

Obama had not even seen the photos in question when his administration decided to comply with a court order to release them by the end of the month. Conservatives such as Sen. Lindsey Graham have praised the president for becoming "more realistic about the threats we face," but political concerns were never far from Obama's mind. "They have been extremely careful to see that they don’t lurch in regards to national security—prudence is everything," said one pollster.