Legislation aimed at blocking the release of photos depicting detainee abuse in American-run prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan is facing a tough battle in the House of Representatives, as a bloc of Democratic members are working to kill the measure that already passed in the Senate, according to Congressional Quarterly and other media reports.
Politico reports that Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who authored the measure in the form of an amendment to the war supplemental spending package, say they will continue to attach the amendment to other bills if it does not make it through the House in its current form. “You could not name a post office without this amendment,” Graham told CQ. “It is not going away.”
Their goal, and the aim of others in the Senate, was to ensure the photos would stay sealed despite court rulings that they should be released during the course of a lengthy ACLU lawsuit over the matter. After initially agreeing to release the photos in compliance with the court orders, the Obama administration reversed course and has said it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary to make sure they don’t come out, in the interest of protecting national security.
Lieberman and Graham have already attached the photos amendment to a bill regulating tobacco that is currently on the floor of the Senate.
As all that unfolds, the ACLU is still fighting the government in court. The Reporters Committee has filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting the organization and arguing the court orders should stand and the photos should come out.
Meanwhile, in another lawsuit, the ACLU is seeking from the CIA under FOIA documents that describe the contents of destroyed videotapes of prisoners’ interrogations. The Washington Post reports that the administration has now indicated it opposes the release of those documents.