Will Amrit give her autograph back?

A few weeks ago, when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in town, it was reported that he asked President Obama for his autograph…for his daughter Amrit Singh who works for the ACLU (see our previous posts):

How big an international star is President Obama? Even other world leaders want his autograph.

When Obama met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this afternoon, the soft-spoken leader noted that his daughter wanted his American counterpart to autograph something for her. [Politico]


p>Amrit is the ACLU lawyer that has been leading the suit to obtain yet-to-be-released pictures that reportedly show the abuse of terror suspects in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Obama administration reversed its stance that previously agreed to allow the release of these damning pictures. Now Obama says “I changed my mind.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which argued for the photos’ release, expressed outrage and said the decision “makes a mockery” of Obama’s campaign promise of transparency.

“It’s absolutely essential that these photos be released so the public can examine for itself the torture and abuse that was conducted in its name, and so that high-level officials who authorized or permitted that abuse can be held accountable,” ACLU attorney Amrit Singh said.

The human rights group Amnesty International said it was disappointed. [Link]


p>For what its worth I can see why this is a dilemma for Obama. On the one hand the ACLU is right: all deep dark secrets held by our government should be subjected to the light of day. It is the morally correct thing to do and it will help to guarantee liberty and justice in the future. On the other hand, Obama has supposedly put a stop to the abuses that occurred under the Bush administration. Releasing these pictures now will simply enflame opinion against the U.S. and lead to a violent backlash against the military (or at least make their jobs more difficult). It will undermine the progress Obama has made.

I wonder just what it was that Amrit asked to get Obama’s autograph on anyways. Maybe a blank piece of paper that she later edited to say says “Judge, I agree with Amrit on this.”

8 thoughts on “Will Amrit give her autograph back?

  1. Dude, MM Singh has another daughter who is a history professor @ St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University.

    He has two daughters

  2. The Obama administration reversed its stance that previously agreed to allow the release of these damning pictures. Now Obama says “I changed my mind.”

    This will end up helping Obama in 2012.

  3. He has two daughters

    actually.. he has three daughters, with the one at aclu being the youngest.

  4. It’s never good PR when a president blatantly changes policy like that. But what exactly is wrong with his decision? So long as we prosecute the perpetrators, that should be enough. Splashing the photos across newspapers will further exploit the victims, and there’s nothing proactive about it other than giving curious people something juicily disrespectful to drool over.

  5. Is this dilemma something new ? Organizations and activists approach a problem from a singular focus on their beliefs and missions whereas the govt. and strategists have to think abt. realpolitik. Both sides need PR to sustain their campaign and bring people on board and depending on which/whose wind blows stronger at a particular time there is this proverbial tussle between the two. History is replete with such examples…(though this is not to belittle some very important changes that reformers and activists have brought about in the past…)

  6. there’s nothing proactive about it other than giving curious people something juicily disrespectful to drool over.

    though the war crimes cannot be compared..not releasing photos will prevent future war crime trials like that of John Demjanjuk which is slated to be the last of such German trials this week. Social backlash is an important factor in the decision especially in this media age.

  7. Actually I wonder what would liberal activists have to say to this decision in comparison to Gujarat tragedy perpetrators who have escaped from the clutches of the laws ? Perfect Law and Order case ?

  8. Interesting topic so I did some more digging thanks to Padma’s breasts ;-)

    Here is the nuanced story…Amrit may win but Obama made a smart move -

    First off, Obama did not actually decide not to release the photos, despite the way his reversal has been characterized. The decision isn’t his to make. The Pentagon is currently compelled by a court order [pdf] to turn 22 photos over to the ACLU, which sued the government under the Freedom of Information Act for their release in 2003. The Pentagon lost in district court and lost again on appeal; earlier this year Pentagon lawyers decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court and struck a deal with the ACLU. The government has no say at this point in whether or not those photos get released—either the FOIA compels their release or it doesn’t, and it’s up to a court to decide that question. All Obama did yesterday was authorize the Pentagon to ask the Supreme Court to take the case. The Court might take the case or it might not. And if it does, it will almost certainly uphold the decisions of the district and appeals courts and order the photos to be released.
    The government’s legal argument is laughable—it was, the appeals court judges noted in their opinion, tossed in as an afterthought in the government’s district court brief—and Obama surely knows it. And since the Pentagon already agreed to release the photos before Obama’s reversal, it’s not in a terribly strong position to argue that the threat from anger in the Arab world is very substantial—if these photos will actually put soldiers’ lives in real danger, then why did you agree to release them before all your legal options were exhausted? By trying to take that argument to the Supreme Court, all Obama is doing is delaying the photos’ release and earning points as a moderate and loyal Commander in Chief. He knows that the photos will come out before his next election, and any lingering anger from his supporters will have long since dissipated.