June 17th, 2009
06:40 PM ET
13 years ago

WH would prevent release of detainee photos, senator says

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration has promised to classify photos of alleged U.S. abuse of prisoners and detainees if that is necessary to keep the controversial photos under wraps, a senior Republican senator announced Wednesday.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, informed Attorney General Eric Holder at a Judiciary Committee hearing that Graham had just won the promise from the White House chief of staff.

"A moment ago Rahm Emanuel indicated to me that the president will not let these photos see the light of day," Graham told Holder at a packed Committee hearing.

Graham is pressing for a congressional prohibition against the release of hundreds of allegedly explosive photos of prisoner abuse that U.S. military leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan believe would fuel anger in the region and endanger U.S. troops.

But if the Congress fails to act and the courts rule against the administration, it would be left to the president to find a way to keep the photos from being released.

"I think having Congress act would be a preferred way," Holder replied.

A short time later, Graham went to the Senate floor to push for a vote on his amendment to block the photos' release, and was more explicit in describing the White House promise.

"If the Congress fails to do its part to protect these photos from being released, the president would sign ... an executive order that would change their classification to be classified national security documents," Graham announced.

The ACLU has gone to court to argue for release of the photos under the Freedom of Information Act. The lawyers won a Circuit Court ruling agreeing they should be made public.

The Obama administration then chose to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. vegage

    I think republicans more that be concern that the release of those photos would fuel anti american sentiments in the world, they are really scared that the photos will show to the american people the reality of the republican party because after all those photos will show that horrible things against humanity happened under their watch, and it was promoted and defended by them. Just the same things that nazis and japanese did to american soldiers during second word war. Shame on them that they are blocking the truth to come to light. LET THE PHOTOS RELEASED SO AMERICAN PEOPLE CAN MAKE A JUDGEMENT ON THEM AND ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND IT'S LEADERS.

    June 17, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  2. Moderate Democrat

    You have to wonder, if these photos MUST be hidden at ALL costs, then they must be absolutely horrid depictions of despicable acts of immorality! No other reason can suffice as to why they must be guarded so tightly.

    If they are not 'horrendous', then we would have no reason to hide them.

    The fact is, they are HORRENDOUS and depict criminal acts of savagery and terrorism. Sadly, carried out by men and women following orders from a deplorable administration that was hell bent on pursuing torture, mass genocide and crimes against humanity.

    Who needs Hitler, Al Qaeda, Taliban or Bin Laden when you have Bush and Cheney.

    June 17, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  3. LacrosseMom

    Dear President Obama,

    Sir, please release all photos and documents pertaining to Bush/DICK torturing POW's.

    Please fulfill your promise of transparency by not doing what BUSH did, and keeping the visitors log to the White House a secret.

    Bush was wrong...... and you do not want to do as he did!

    June 17, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. Terry

    Our spineless Representatives and Senators have never missed an oppotunity to miss an opportunity regarding the war on terror. When they could have questioned the invasion of Iraq, they were clapping Bush on the back and waving the flag. When they could have raised questions about Guantanamo, they were in their offices working on something else. When they could have acted on whether to release the photos, they were too busy complaining about the national debt, which they all voted for.

    What a disappointing group. I include my own Congressman Sylvestre Reyes and my senators Cornyn and Hutchison. We should outsource Congress to India. We could hire Senators who would work for a lot less and do a better job.

    June 17, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  5. malclave

    "The Obama administration has promised to classify photos "

    Obama's promises are meaningless.

    June 17, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  6. m smith

    Well the big mouth Graham didn't waste any time. The repo discission not to show the photos is different than the white house. The white house want to protect our service men from any backlash the photos may cause the repos want to protect the previous administration.

    June 17, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  7. Pepper

    Couple of issues here:
    1. Torn as to the viewing. I think they should be made public but not allowed to be seen in media such as internet, video, magazine, etc. This allows the public the right to view and yet should curtail public outrage.

    2. Concerned that Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, informed Attorney General Eric Holder: "A moment ago Rahm Emanuel indicated to me that the president will not let these photos see the light of day." What gives Emanuel the legal right to make that statement if true.

    June 17, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  8. JR

    I'm very disappointed in Obama, he said that he wanted transparency in his administration (something sorely missing for 8 years) but here he goes with the usual "the public doesn't need to know" routine. Is it just the old, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" that gets in the way of politicians facing what's right? I can not and will not accept that we are better off not knowing the abuses done in our names. The world has a right to know.

    June 17, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  9. SnowBird

    Rahm always tells the truth. Just like Obama. Oh, that's right, Obama is up to 700 lies since he took office. I'll believe him now. WAKE UP AMERICA, Rahm and the savior have taken the biggest power grab in American HISTORY.

    June 17, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  10. a good idea

    these photos can do the U.S. no good

    June 17, 2009 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  11. joe m

    i really don't understand what good those who want to have these images released hope to accomplish. does anyone really need to see i a picture of someone being beheaded to understand that this is a barbaric act? does anyone need to see a picture of a stanger offering assistance to a victim to understand that this a laudable act? if one believes that the allegations of torture are shameful and unacceptable, would these images help validate their belief? the intent appears to be more political and ideaological in nature and we really don't need more of either.

    June 17, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  12. nota dem

    just like Obama the MUSLIM, can not tell the truth

    June 17, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  13. dc

    One word: loser

    June 17, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  14. Whatz up

    Republican Lindsey Graham must have made a serious DEAL with "Pitt Bull" Rahm Emanuel. The GOP must be really SCARED about these photos getting out into the public. It would surely kill the GOP's hopes of any future.

    June 17, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  15. Lauren

    Good, we don't need to se the photos, what benefit would it serve?

    June 17, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  16. Peoples Voice

    The photos are not what causes the problem

    It's the torture, stupid.

    We will always talk the talk, but god forbid we should ever walk the walk. This country is filled with cowards.

    June 17, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  17. Jack

    I doubt if Obama has the spine to stand up to anyone, especially his communist puppeteers who want these photos released so they can smear America some more and create more hatred for Americans.

    Politics of Hate.

    democrats be thy name.

    June 17, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  18. Mick

    Congress better do the right thing and release these photos and start finding people culpable. The longer we sweep this under the rug, the worse it looks for this "democratic" country. This is not about protecting our troops (the only way to do that is to get out and bring them home!) This is about heinous orders given by Bush and carried out in OUR name. I want justice for the victims, and a clear conscience for the U.S.

    June 17, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |