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Generals Petraeus and Odierno on Photo Release

12:33 PM, Jun 11, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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President Obama has ordered the Justice Department to appeal the decision by a lower court that ruled in favor of the ACLU and ordered the release of photos allegedly showing detainee abuse. Whether that ruling will be overturned is unclear, but Senators Graham and Lieberman have been fighting for legislation that would provide the president with the legal authority to supersede any court ordered release. The senators have been making the same case that President Obama made when he first announced that he would fight the ACLU to keep the pictures from being released -- that the release of these photos would put U.S. troops in even greater danger. Secretary Clinton also argued against releasing the pictures, telling Senator Graham that they would endanger U.S. diplomats. And now we see that Generals Petraeus and Odierno also urged the courts to halt the release of these photos as they would, in the words of General Petraeus, "deal a particularly hard blow" to U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and "further endanger the lives of U.S. Soldiers."

Petraeus went on to say that the release of the photos could lead to "an influx of foreign fighters from outside Afghanistan and new recruits from within Afghan could materialize, as the new photos serve as potent recruiting material to attract new members to join the insurgency." Given the left's deep concern that Guantanamo has served has a tool for jihadist recruitment and must therefore be closed whatever the risks, Petraeus's warning about recruitment may explain the strong Democratic support in the Senate for the Lieberman-Graham amendment. Petraeus warns that the photos will also undermine relations with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other partner nations, as well as fueling the violence and extremism that now threatens to collapse Pakistan. "Newly released photos depicting abuse of detainees in U.S. military custody in Afghanistan and Iraq would negatively affect the on-going efforts by Pakistan to counter its internal extremist threat," Petraeus declared.

The current commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, made similar pleas for the photos to be suppressed. Odierno said U.S. soldiers in Iraq "would face a particularly serious risk to their lives and physical safety," and that as the number of attacks against U.S. troops increase, "incidents of spontaneous violence against U.S. forces, possibly including attacks from outraged Iraqi police or army members are likely." And Odierno echoed Petraeus's concern that these photos would serve as a boon to jihadist recruitment:

"I believe these images will be used to inflame outrage against the U.S. and be used by terrorist organizations to recruit new members. The release of the photos will likely incite Muslim idealists to join the cause to seek retribution for the dishonor they may perceive to have been brought against all Muslims by the U.S. inside Iraq, the publicity over the images could incite additional attacks on U.S. personnel by members of the Iraq Security Forces."

The Senate voted unanimously in favor of the Graham-Lieberman amendment, the President and the Secretary of State supported the amendment, and Generals Odierno and Petraeus have made clear just how vital it is that these pictures be suppressed. Still, the Democratic leadership in the House, acting on behalf of the ACLU, has moved to strip the the amendment from the supplemental appropriations bill and deny the commander in chief the ability to keep these photos from being released. In other words, Nancy Pelosi has defied the President of the United States and the commanders on the ground at the behest of a liberal special interest group and with the effect of putting American lives at risk.

Read the quotes from Generals Petraeus and Odierno here.