Commentary Magazine


Re: Shameful

On Friday, word came that the House Democratic leadership, in defiance of the president’s wishes, was unwilling to prevent passage of the Lieberman-Graham Amendment seeking to block release of the detainee abuse photos. Sens. Lieberman and Graham have put out a press release that, in part, reads:

The President has said that the release of the photos of detainees in U.S. custody would “put our troops and civilians serving our nation abroad in greater danger.” We agree with the Commander in Chief.

“We will employ all the legislative means available to us including opposing the supplemental war spending bill and attaching this amendment, which was unanimously adopted by the Senate, to every piece of legislation the Senate considers, to be sure the President has the authority he needs not to release these photos and any others that would jeopardize the safety and security of our troops.

“The release of the photos will serve as propaganda and recruiting tool for terrorists who seek to attack American citizens at home and abroad.  We should strive to have as open a government as possible, but the behavior depicted in the photos has been prohibited and is being investigated.  The photos do not depict anything that is not already known.  Transparency, and in this case needless transparency, should not be paid for with the lives of American citizens, let alone the lives of our men and women in uniform fighting on our behalf in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

It seems inconceivable that the Democratic House leadership would defy their president and imperil the safety of American troops to curry favor with the netroot fringe of their party. But perhaps the threat of seeing the measure come up on each and every piece of legislation and seeing business grind to a halt will convince them to re-orient their priorities. And as for the president, now that he’s back from Paris, perhaps he could weigh in as well.