A federal judge ordered the release Thursday 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 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 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.
Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, said that releasing the photos would hinder his work against terrorism.
The American Civil Liberties Union sought release of the photographs and videotapes as part of an October 2003 lawsuit demanding information on the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody.