The president took his decision under the pressure of time. Had he not acted, the 44 photos would have been released next week as per an order from a New York court. It was a decision the White House had originally approved. But the timing of the release would have been problematic — the images of rape and torture would have conflicted with Obama’s travel plans. On June 4, Obama plans to give a keynote address in Cairo in which he intends to unveil a plan of reconciliation with the Muslim world. The legacy of the Bush era includes an us-versus-them mentality from which Obama seeks to distance himself, and which he has already begun to reverse.
Whether true or not, it certainly makes more sense than David Ignatius’ repulsive, straight-from-the-Beltway-cocktail-circuit speculation that the sudden reversal was meant as a ‘Sister Souljah moment’ (though would still be no less inexcusable).