Yesterday, President Barack Obama sent Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) a letter urging Congress to pass the Detainee Photo ban that has been unanimously passed in the Senate and now awaits House action, where it was introduced by Representatives Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Heath Shuler (D-NC). The sponsors stated in response to receipt of the letter from the President:
"I am very pleased with the President's strong statement of support for the Lieberman-Graham Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act which would prevent the release of photos of past abuse of detainees in US custody," said Lieberman. "The President recognized that the Senate has unanimously passed this legislation three times and urged the House to take action because this legislation protects the lives of American troops. As the President eloquently wrote in his letter to us, Nothing would be gained by the release of these photos that matters more than the lives of our young men and women serving in harm's way.' I strongly urge my colleagues in the House to heed the President's call and pass this legislation without delay. The lives of our troops are at stake."
"I hope the House Democratic leadership will support President Obama's position on prohibiting the release of additional photos and carefully listen to our military commanders who have said unequivocally that these photos will be used by our enemies to inspire additional violence against our troops," said Graham. "I appreciate the fact that President Obama has decided that additional detainee photos being released will put our troops and other Americans in further jeopardy and will not provide any new information regarding past detainee abuse. I'm hopeful his letter of support will be a major political breakthrough that will ensure passage of our legislation. This is truly a bipartisan effort to protect our troops and I appreciate the leadership of my Democratic and Republican colleagues in the both the House and Senate."
"I stand with our President, the United States Senate, our Secretary of Defense and our commanders on the ground in supporting this bipartisan legislation and it is my fervent hope that my colleagues in the House will decide to as well," said Conaway. "Opposition to a bill that would endanger lives of U.S. citizens and members of the Armed Forces is both irresponsible and ludicrous. The very fact that we could put Americans all over the world, especially our men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, in dangerous scenarios is reason enough to make sure this bill becomes law. The consequences of refusing to enact this legislation are simple: if these photos are released, they will be used by the enemy to provoke violence against Americans and to further recruit insurgents on behalf of a violent anti-American cause. This bill is imperative to the safety of our troops and our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I urge its swift passage in the House."
"While I support government transparency, the risk of endangering our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by releasing these photos is too high," said Shuler. "Generals and security experts have said these photos would fan the hatred of extremist groups at a time when tensions already run high in the Middle East."