The US government is trying to stop fresh images of prisoner abuse in Iraq being made public, claiming they will aid the insurgency, court papers show.
The first Abu Ghraib pictures brought worldwide condemnation (AP Photo/Courtesy of The New Yorker)
US civil liberties groups have launched a lawsuit to force the release of 87 pictures and four videos showing abuse at Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad.
Earlier images sparked worldwide condemnation and resulted in charges against a number of soldiers.
The US argues the rest should stay hidden to avoid helping the insurgents.
It is "probable that al-Qaeda and other groups will seize upon these images and videos as grist for their propaganda mill," the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen Richard Myers, argues in court papers.
Releasing the images could also incite violence against US troops, he says.
And he says the images would be detrimental to the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gen Myers' arguments were contained in court documents filed on 21 July but only recently unsealed.
The Pentagon stepped up its campaign with a later request, submitted on Friday, for certain material to be kept from the public domain.
The civil liberties groups have submitted counter-arguments by a retired US army colonel, Michael Pheneger, who insists the public good would be served by publication of the images.
"The first step to abandoning practices that are repugnant to our laws and national ideals is to bring them into the sunshine and assign accountability," he wrote.
He also argued that the Iraqi insurgency would continue regardless of whether or not the pictures were published.
A district judge, Alvin Hellerstein, will decide whether the images should be released.
The photographs released last year showed Iraqi prisoners being physically and sexually abused or humiliated.
The images at the centre of the fresh legal battle are believed to have been taken by the same soldier as the original set.
All senior US commanders have so far been cleared of any crime.