Jun 18 2009

Graham, Lieberman Praise Senate Vote on Detainee Photo Ban

Senators Urge House to Act Quickly

WASHINGTON, DC --  Wednesday night, the Senate unanimously approved the Lieberman-Graham Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act, legislation that would prevent the release of photos of detainees in US custody.  The release of the photos would endanger American troops; destabilize Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan; and serve as a terrorist recruiting tool just like the 2004 photos did, according to Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno.


Graham and Lieberman noted that General Odierno, in a recent court filing, addressed the increase in violence after the 2004 release of detainee abuse photos.  The general wrote, “The public dissemination of detainee abuse photos in 2004 likely contributed to a spike in violence in Iraq during the third quarter of 2004 as foreign fighters and domestic insurgents were drawn to Iraq to train and fight. Attacks on C[oalition] F[orces] increased from around 700 in March 2004 to 1800 in May (after the photographs were broadcast and published) and 2800 in August 2004. Attacks on C[oalition] F[orces] did not subside to March 2004 levels until June 2008. These increased attacks resulted in the death of Coalition Forces, Iraqi forces, and civilians."


“Passing this bill is essential to protecting our fighting men and women,” said Senators Graham and Lieberman.  “Each one of those photos would be tantamount to a death sentence to those serving our nation in the most dangerous and difficult spots like Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.   The President and overwhelming majorities in the Senate and the House have made it clear that these photos should not be released.  Now it is the House’s turn to take swift action so the President can sign this bill and give our troops and their families the assurance they deserve that these photos will never be released.  We’re hopeful the House will pass the legislation and have it on the President’s desk by July 8, the date of the next court hearing filing.”


The Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act was unanimously approved by the Senate as an amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill, but was removed during the conference committee.  At the time, President Obama wrote a letter to Chairman Inouye and Chairman Obey promising to “continue to take every legal and administrative remedy available to me to ensure the DoD detainee photographs are not released.”  The President added, “Should a legislative solution prove necessary, I am committed to working with the Congress to enact legislation that achieves the objectives we share.”


Graham and Lieberman have also been personally assured that if Congress fails to act on behalf of our troops, the President will take the appropriate Executive action to ensure the photos will never be released.


“The best way to prevent the photos from being released is for the House to pass and the President to sign the Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act,” said Graham and Lieberman.  “Our legislation would bring this matter to a decisive conclusion.  There is no reason to litigate this case further or even to rely on an executive order.  Why would Congress not do something that could so easily help our men and women in uniform who are deployed abroad and fighting on our behalf?  For our troops and for our nation, the sooner the better.”