“Heavy pressure” from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki helped convince President Obama to oppose the release of Abu Ghraib torture photos sought by the ACLU, McClatchy reports. “Baghdad will burn,” Maliki reportedly told military officials. The administration cited objections from generals as the reason for the change in opinion, but has not acknowledged Maliki’s role.
“It was not so much the photos themselves, but that the perception that they would be Abu Ghraib-type photos,” said one official. The US was worried “about the potential street consequences.” After Maliki was notified of the impending release, he warned “if you add this to that mix, it could very easily provide an incentive to the extremists.” Maliki thought the outrage could force the US out of Iraq sooner than the 2011 deadline.