Justices tell 2nd Circuit to reconsider release of detainee photos

By The Associated Press
11.30.09

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has thrown out a federal appeals court ruling ordering the disclosure of photographs of detainees being abused by their U.S. captors.

In doing so today, the high court cited a recent change in federal law that allows the pictures to be withheld.

The justices issued a brief, and expected, order today directing the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to take another look at a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to obtain the photos of detainee abuse. President Barack Obama at first did not oppose the release, but he changed his mind, saying the photos could whip up anti-American sentiment overseas and endanger U.S. troops.

The administration appealed the matter to the Supreme Court, but also worked with Congress to give Defense Secretary Robert Gates the power to keep from the public all pictures of foreign detainees being abused.

Gates invoked his new authority in mid-November, saying widespread distribution of the pictures would endanger U.S. soldiers.

The ACLU has said it will continue fighting for the photos' release.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who served on the 2nd Circuit until August, did not take part in the high court's consideration of the case.