WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pentagon said on Monday it had temporarily removed tens of thousands of photo and video images from its visual information website of Afghans who supported the US war effort and were deemed vulnerable to retaliation of the Taliban.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that from August, during the US-led evacuation, all images showing the faces or other identifiable features of vulnerable Afghans had been deleted. He said the images will be released to the public domain when deemed safe.
Kirby said 124,000 photos and 17,000 videos were deleted and archived on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.
âIt was a huge undertaking and it took us a long time – almost two months,â Kirby said, adding that it was not yet finished. “We did this out of an excess of caution, out of respect for our obligation to these individuals and their families, and at the right time when appropriate, we will absolutely repost these images.”
Kirby said his move was in line with concern across the U.S. government that the Taliban, which quickly defeated Afghan security forces last summer and seized control of Kabul on August 15, would seek to exercise control. retaliation against the Afghans who had aided the United States during its 20-year war effort.
âThese concerns were valid and we make no apologies for making this decision. I still think it was the right thing to do, âhe added. âNothing was deleted from the file. It’s just archived until we think it’s a good time to save it.