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Unanimous-Consent Request - Executive Calendar

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I come to the floor to acknowledge an agreement I have reached with the majority leader and the administration regarding the issue of detainee abuse photos. I think, as my colleagues are well aware, there are some photos of alleged detainee abuse that have existed for several years; more of the same, nothing new. The President has decided to oppose their release.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit asking for these photos to be released. General Petraeus and General Odierno are the two combat commanders, and I ask unanimous consent that their statements be printed in the RECORD following my remarks.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so ordered.

(See exhibit 1.)

Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, the lawsuit said if these photos are released, our enemies will use them against our troops. These photos will incite additional violence against men and women serving overseas and Americans who are in theater. There is nothing new to be learned, according to the President. I agree with that. These are more of the same. The people involved at Abu Ghraib and other detainee abuse allegations have been dealt with. The effect of releasing these photos would be empowering our enemies. Every photo would become a bullet or an IED. I wish to applaud the President for saying he opposes their release.

The status of the lawsuit is that there is a stay on the second circuit order that would allow the photos to be released until the Supreme Court hears the petition of certiorari filed by the Supreme Court.

I have been promised two things that were important to me to remove my holds and to let the supplemental go without objection. No. 1, there would be a freestanding vote on the Lieberman-Graham amendment, the legislative solution to this lawsuit. The Senate has previously allowed this legislation to become a part of the supplemental war funding bill. It would prevent the disclosure of these photos for a 3-year period. If the Secretary of Defense said they were harmful to our national security interests, it could be renewed for 3 years. Senator Reid has indicated to me that before July 8 we will have a chance to vote on that provision as a freestanding bill, which I think will get the Senate back on record in a timely fashion before the next court hearing.

Secondly, I wanted to be assured by the administration that if the Congress fails to do its part to protect these photos from being released, the President would sign an Executive order which would change their classification to be classified national security documents that would be outcome determinative of the lawsuit. Rahm Emanuel has indicated to me that the President is committed to not ever letting these photos see the light of day, but they agree with me that the best way to do it is for Congress to act.

So in light of that, I am going to remove my hold on the bills I have a hold on, and I will support the supplemental. Because I think it is very important for our soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines--anybody deployed--civilian contractors and their families to know there is a game plan. We are going to support General Petraeus and General Odierno and all our combat commanders to make sure these photos never see the light of day. I think we have a game plan that will work. It starts with a vote in the Senate. I am urging the House to take this up as a freestanding bill. There were 267 House Members who voted to keep our language included in the supplemental. It was taken out. I am very disappointed that it was taken out, but we now have a chance to start over and get this right sooner rather than later.

With that understanding, that we are going to get a freestanding vote on the Lieberman-Graham amendment and that the administration will do whatever is required to make sure these photos never see the light of day if Congress fails to act, I am going to lift my hold on all the legislation and support the supplemental. I look forward to taking this matter up as soon as possible.

I thank the Chair, and I yield the floor.


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