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American Legion to Obama: Releasing Detainee Photos Will Endanger Soldiers' Lives

3:42 PM, May 8, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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David K. Rehbein, national commander of the American Legion, writes in the Wall Street Journal:

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but is it worth the death of a single American soldier? Is any photograph worth the life of your Marine Corps daughter? Or your neighbor's deployed husband?

I would like to concede that these are tough questions, but they are really quite simple. The answer is a resounding "No." Releasing photographs of alleged or actual detainee abuse in the War on Terrorism is not worth the life of a single American. Of course, as some have noted, the incidents at Abu Ghraib have already endangered our troops. So did any orders and policies that may have led to those incidents. But what is to be accomplished by continuing to provide ammunition and provocation to the enemy?

At issue is the Pentagon's decision -- in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) -- to release a "substantial number" of images depicting the treatment of detainees by May 28 after being ordered by a judge on the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to do so. But given the riots that occurred after the release of the first round of Abu Ghraib photos and the enemy's penchant for using such images for propaganda and recruiting purposes, the Defense Department owes it to the soldiers to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to block the release of these photos.