The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to block the release of pictures of detainee abuse on grounds that their disclosure could incite violence and endanger U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The administration took the issue to the high court after President Obama in May reversed a decision to stop fighting the release of the photographs. They were ordered released as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Bush administration had also fought their release, and lost.
The 21 color photographs were taken by service members in Iraq and Afghanistan and were part of criminal investigations of alleged abuse. Some pictures show "soldiers pointing pistols or rifles at the heads of hooded and handcuffed detainees," Solicitor General Elena Kagan said in her filing with the high court.