Okay, so. BushCo is still fighting the release of additional Abu Ghraib images tooth & nail. They have apparently abandoned the truly laughable "It would humiliate the torture victims" rationale (I think that ship has already sailed, eh?), and have moved on to how "al-Qaeda and other groups will seize upon these images and videos as grist for their propaganda mill." Phila has an excellent post covering the moral bankruptcy of this strategy, but I want to talk a little bit about the stakes here, and why it's so important to the administration to suppress any more Abu Ghraib pictures.
Why should this be a big deal? After all, we've already seen pictures from Abu Ghraib, and everyone was suitably outraged. Even if the new pictures are worse, does it really make that big of a difference? Well, consider: Americans generally have short attention spans, and need the immediacy that images provide. Verbal descriptions of Abu Ghraib (and later, Gitmo) had absolutely zero effect. And now that everyone's seen the pictures, they're old news, and the scandal is essentially forgotten.
So why is this important now? Because when the first wave of Abu Ghraib pictures was released, the administration successfully palmed responsibility off on "a few bad apples," and most people were satisfied with that. But since then, revelations have come out about very similar tactics being employed at Guantanamo Bay, and still more damning, the fact that the torture and humiliation started at Abu Ghraib shortly after the general in charge of Gitmo transferred to Iraq. Right now, those linkages are dormant, because all they do is link a non-story (no photos of Gitmo) to an ex-story (old news!). But release additional photos from Abu Ghraib, and some people will start asking the same how-could-this-happen questions again. And this time, the old excuses will be a lot harder to sustain.
Conversely, if the administration succeeds in suppressing the additional Abu Ghraib photos, the coverup of their culpability will be successful. No-one will dig into the connections between Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, the connections that demonstrate that torture was systemic, pervasive, and instituted from a very very high level. We need those pictures to come out, and we need someone to start asking the right questions. A congressional investigation and/or special prosecutor would be appropriate but unlikely. Let's hope the media is on the job this time, or that the bad apples have some intrepid, fearless, and publicity-seeking legal representation.