May 22 2009

Senate Adopts Lieberman-Graham Amendment Banning Release of Detainee Photos

WASHINGTON The U.S. Senate unanimously passed an amendment last night introduced by U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) which establishes a procedure to block release of the detainee photos.

Last week, after consulting with General Petraeus, General Odierno, and others, President Obama decided to fight the release of photographs that depict the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. Those photographs are the subject of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“This vote is an important statement of support for the protection of our troops who are on the front lines defending our country at a time of war,” said Lieberman. “This amendment provides the President with the ability to block the publication of the photos that would endanger the safety of our men and women in uniform.”

“Our military commanders have, to a person, stated that releasing these photographs will increase violence against out troops and civilians serving overseas,” said Graham. “I agree. Nothing will be gained by their release in terms of new information about detainee abuse. Americans will be killed because of their release and this amendment is designed to stop that from happening. I applaud the President’s decision to fight the release of these photographs. Our legislation will strengthen the Obama Administration’s legal standing in court and that is why the Senate has unanimously passed this important piece of legislation.”

The Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act was offered as an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations bill that was passed by the Senate last night.

 The amendment authorizes the Secretary of Defense, after consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, to certify that the disclosure of photographs like the ones at issue in the ACLU lawsuit would endanger the lives of our citizens or members of the Armed Forces or civilian employees of the United States government deployed abroad.

The certification would last three years and could be renewed by the Secretary of Defense if the threat to American personnel continues. Also, the language in the bill is clear that it would apply to the current ACLU lawsuit.