Congressman Marsha Blackburn (TN-7) today commended President Obama on his decision not to release images of alleged abuse of detainees under U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan. The ACLU requested the images under the Freedom of Information Act.
Citing potential harm to national security, the President reveresed his earlier decision to hand the images over to the ACLU on May 28th.
Congressman Blackburn is leading her colleagues in the House on this issue. The White House announcement came just hours before Blackburn was scheduled to host a briefing for Members with national security experts. Speaking to the press at that briefing, Blackburn said:
"First, I want to commend the President for coming to what I believe is the appropriate decision for our national security and the safety of our troops. The President should vigorously pursue withholding these images in the courts."
"Our forces abroad deserve every effort from Congress and the White House to support their safety and their success. Release of these photos would have undermined both."
"The 101st Airborne calls my district in Tennessee home. They are returning from more than a year in Iraq and Afghanistan- a year where they have made tremendous advances in both countries. Release of these images could have undone all of their hard work and sacrifice. Tennessee National Guard Units are preparing now for future deployments. Release of these images will make their mission harder and more dangerous."
"The images the ACLU is pursuing wouldn't accurately reflect how the majority of detainees are treated in U.S. custody. They would be an effective recruiting and propaganda tool for those who wish to do our troops harm."
"Our success in Iraq and Afghanistan depends largely on our forces ability to secure the population from those extremist elements who would do them real harm. Groups like the Taliban- who routinely throw acid on the faces of young girls for the crime of going to school- would use these images to undermine the sense of security our troops must establish in order to achieve victory."
"There is no public interest achieved by the release of these images that is worth the life of a single American service member.