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Detainee Photgraphic Records Protection Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I stand up in support of my friend and colleague from Connecticut, Senator Lieberman. We were able to get passed a piece of legislation, through an amendment on the supplemental bill, that is directly on point regarding the pending court case, the subject matter of which is releasing additional detainee photos of past abuse.

The President has looked at these photos, and we all understand that it is more of the same--that the photos in question came from American troops' cameras, who were engaged in inappropriate activity. Disciplinary action has been taken where appropriate, and nothing new is to be learned. There is no new evidence of crimes by people who have yet to be dealt with.

It would, as my friend from Connecticut said, be voyeurism for the sake of voyeurism. The photos are offensive but no different than what we have already seen.

The reason we are here supporting this legislation and supporting the President is because, as Senator Lieberman said, the consequences of releasing the photos are not a mystery. Americans are going to die.

I just got back from a trip to North Africa, Morocco, and Algeria, and I went to Greece. Every embassy very much was worried about what would happen to Americans if these photos were released. They were preparing to be, quite frankly, under siege.

As Senator Lieberman indicated in the Miami Herald article, when Prime Minister Maliki in Iraq was informed these additional photos may be released, another tranche of photos coming out about detainee abuse, according to American military officials involved, he went pale in the face and uttered the phrase: ``Baghdad will burn.''

To those who are arguing for the release of the photos, I do not question their patriotism, I do not question their motives. I question their judgment. To our House and Senate colleagues who are in conference, please understand that Senator Lieberman, myself, and I think the vast majority of our Senate colleagues--we did not take a recorded vote--believe this is a life-and-death matter. I believe that to release the photos would result in certain death and attack against American interests abroad, particularly against the diplomatic corps and our men and women serving abroad, and no higher purpose would be achieved here at home.

We made compromises in the legislation, but we did not destroy the intent of the legislation. And for the courts that may listen to try to discern the legislative intent, the intent by both authors was to make sure that the photos subject to the pending litigation were never released and Congress weighed in and agreed with the President's decision not to release those photos. We have changed the law, directly on point, to give legislative backing to the idea that these particular photographs, and those like these photographs, should not be released for a period of 3 years, and that is in our national security interests to do so.

I hope the courts will understand what we were trying to do and what we actually did.

To our House and Senate colleagues trying to find compromises on the supplemental legislation, please understand the purpose of this amendment, how important it is to the war effort, why the President is in support of the amendment. He is making a very responsible decision as Commander in Chief. I applaud him for doing that. This language needs to stay as is, intact. Again, it is a matter of life and death. And if for some reason it came out, it would be a disaster--because the court case is pending now--if it came out, please understand that there will be nothing done in the Senate for as long as I am here and Senator Lieberman is here that would not have this amendment attached. You could not name a post office without this amendment. It is not going away.

I thank my colleague from Arkansas for her courtesies.

I yield the floor.


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