- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sens. Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman on Tuesday threatened to bring the chamber’s business to a standstill as they fight to save legislation that would bar the release of photographs showing apparent U.S. abuses of suspected terrorist detainees.

House Democrats, under pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, reportedly are moving to drop the provision from a final version of a war-spending bill after it won unanimous approval in the senate-passed bill.

“That’s why we’re not going to do any more business in the Senate,” said Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican. “So nothing’s going forward until we get this right.”

Mr. Graham and Mr. Lieberman, Connecticut independent, sponsored the prohibition as part of the senate version of the nearly $100 billion spending bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was added to the measure to head off a federal court case that could force the release of the detainee photos.

The senators said the photographs do not shed new light on the past mistreatment of detainees, for which more than 400 people have been investigated or punished. But the images would serve as a recruiting tool for al Qaeda, leading to more terrorist attacks and more U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“If this amendment is dropped, Senator Graham and I will not go quietly into the night,” said Mr. Lieberman, who is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. “The safety of our troops and our nation … is on the line. We will use all of the legislative tools at our disposal to see to it that this amendment prohibiting the release of these photographs of detainees will be adopted.”

He said that transparency in government is a cherished American value. “But it is not without limits, no more than any of the values embraced in our Constitution.”

The senators threatened to mount a filibuster to the war-spending bill and to add the photo-release prohibition to other bills, which would help stall legislation in the chamber. It already has been introduced to a bill currently on the senate floor that would extend the Food and Drug Administration jurisdiction to tobacco products.

President Obama reversed course last month to side with the senators and fight the release of the photographs. The president said photos would only “inflame anti-American opinion” and endanger U.S. troops, echoing concerns raise by the two senators and military commanders.

The ACLU said it was “betrayed” by Mr. Obama. The group asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm a district court ruling requiring the release of the photos, which the were original sought in a Freedom of Information Act request that was unsuccessfully opposed by the Bush administration.

The photos were part of the evidence in criminal investigations against guards accused of mistreating inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and at the detention camp at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Obama administration said it is prepared to go to the U.S. Supreme Court to try to keep the photos secret.

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