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More time for abuse photos appeal

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has given the federal government, at its request, an added 30 days to file a possible appeal seeking to prevent the disclosure of more than four dozen U.S. Army photos that are said to show severe abuse by American soldiers of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Without the Ginsburg order, a petition would have been due June 9. The order, issued Friday in Defense Department v. American Civil Liberties Union (08A1068) and made public Monday, extended that deadline to July 9.

The Second Circuit Court had ruled that the photos must be publicly disclosed, under the Freedom of Information Act.

President Obama and his aides are pursuing two paths for trying to overturn that disclosure order: first, they are seeking action by Congress to amend the FOIA to bar the release; if that does not succeed, they plan to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the Circuit Court decision.   The President, who had decided originally to allow the photos to come out, changed his mind after being convinced by military officials that their release would endanger U.S. troops by arousing anti-American feeling abroad.

The Ginsburg delay order gives Congress more time to act.  The Senate has passed a measure to block the photos’ disclosure, and the two houses are expected to work on the issue early this month.