May 19 2009

Graham Introduces Legislation Codifying President's Decision Banning Release of Detainee Photos

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) today introduced the Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act which would establish a procedure to block release of the detainee photos.  The Senators plan to offer the legislation as an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations bill that is being deliberated on the Senate floor this week.

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 legislation would authorize the Secretary of Defense, after consultation with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, to certify to the President 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 five 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.

“The President made a bold decision as Commander in Chief that will protect our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere and make it easier for them to carry out the missions that we have asked them to do,” said Lieberman.  “This measure would codify the President’s decision to block release of these photos and thereby help protect our troops who are defending our country and our liberty.” 

“The publication of those photographs would only endanger the safety of our troops who go into harm's way in defense of America,” said Graham.  “Our country has taken steps to prevent any future abuse of detainees and no public good is now served by releasing these photographs.  Our legislation will strengthen the Obama Administration’s legal standing in court and it should be adopted.”