A federal judge ordered the release of dozens more pictures of prisoners being abused at Abu Ghraib, rejecting government arguments that the images would provoke terrorists and incite violence against U.S. troops in Iraq.
U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said Thursday that terrorists "do not need pretexts for their barbarism" and that suppressing the pictures would amount to submitting to blackmail.
"Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command. Indeed, the freedoms that we champion are as important to our success in Iraq and Afghanistan as the guns and missiles with which our troops are armed," he said.
Hellerstein ordered the release of 74 pictures and three videotapes from the Abu Ghraib prison, potentially opening the military up to more embarrassment from a scandal that stirred outrage around the world last year when photos of 2003 abuse became public.
The photographs covered by Thursday's ruling were taken by a soldier. A military policeman who saw them turned them over to the Army. Some may be duplicates of photos already seen by the public.
An appeal of Hellerstein's ruling is expected, which could delay release of the pictures for months.
Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, said Thursday that releasing the photos would hinder his work against terrorism.
"When we continue to pick at the wound and show the pictures over and over again it just creates the image a false image like this is the sort of stuff that is happening anew, and it's not," Abizaid said, reports the AP.