LONDON: A former US general said graphic images of rape and torture are among the photos of Iraqi prisoner abuse that President Barack Obama's administration does not want released.
Retired Major General Antonio Taguba, who oversaw the US investigation into the abuses at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, was quoted as telling Britain's Daily Telegraph in an article on Wednesday that he agreed with Obama's decision not to release the pictures.
"I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them," Taguba was quoted by the Daily Telegraph. "The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it."
It was not exactly clear what photos Taguba was referring to.
A US military official in Baghdad, however, said "the photos referred to are ones that Taguba is not aware of." The official spoke on condition of anonymity yesterday because he was not authorized to release the information.
The military is referring all questions on the matter to Washington. The Obama administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
According to the Telegraph, the new photos depicted much more serious abuses than previously documented. One photo reportedly showed an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner and another was said to show a male translator raping a male detainee, the paper reported.
The Telegraph said the photos related to 400 cases of alleged abuse between 2001 and 2005 at Abu Ghraib and six other prisons. It was not immediately clear from the newspaper report who had seen the photos or how they might have been obtained.
The newspaper said the images in the photos were backed up by statements from Taguba's report into prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act.
The prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib exploded after photos taken by soldiers appeared in 2004.
Iraqis called for an investigation into the Daily Telegraph report.
"The Iraqi government must demand the reopening of the Abu Ghraib scandal case again," said Ali Kadom, 45, who works at the Ministry of Transportation.
Khalid Bashi, 35, a trade office owner in Baghdad, said Obama should release the photos to put a stop to a possible scandal.
"Sooner or later, more scandals will appear that show crimes against humanity carried out by American troops in Iraq," Bashi said.
(China Daily 05/29/2009 page12)