Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) threatened to hold up any and all legislation in the Senate until Congress passes its legislation to prohibit the release of photos showing detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We’re not going to do any more business in the Senate,— Graham said. “Nothing’s going forward until we get this right.—
Both Senators said they were alarmed that a House-Senate conference committee on the supplemental war spending bill appears poised to eliminate language — inserted by the two Senators — that would block public disclosure of detainee abuse photos. The $90-billion-plus bill has been held up, in part, because House Democratic leaders have said they do not have the votes to pass it with the detainee photo provision included, because many liberal lawmakers have balked at the language.
If the provision is eliminated, Lieberman and Graham said they would vote against the supplemental and any attempts to bring debate on the measure to a close. Graham predicted that most, if not all, of the 40 Senate Republicans would do the same, and Lieberman said he would be reaching out to Democrats on the issue as well. That could be enough to filibuster the supplemental measure on the Senate floor, because 60 votes are needed to end debate on a bill.
Both men said the release of more photos showing U.S. soldiers abusing detainees at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and at prisons in Afghanistan would only inflame tensions in the Middle East and further serve as a recruiting tool for al-Qaida.
Lieberman said that the release of an earlier batch of photos from Abu Ghraib in 2004 had a positive effect, in that it rallied the Congress — and the new president — to outlaw such practices in the future. The release of additional photos, Lieberman argued, “to me is sheer voyeurism … and will lead to the death of Americans.—
Both Senators cited warnings from generals in the field and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that the photos could incite violence against Americans in the Middle East.
Graham accused House Democratic leaders of being beholden to “a fringe element in American politics— because he said they appear to be taking the side of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has sued the government under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the other photos.
Noting that President Barack Obama supports the provision along with a large majority in the Senate, Graham said, “The only body that is off-script in my mind is the House. … Is the ACLU now in charge of the House of Representatives?—
Lieberman and Graham’s threat to halt Senate action is unlikely to affect progress of a bill to allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products. Senators voted Monday to clear the way for final passage either Tuesday or Wednesday.