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Lieberman and Graham wage their own private cover-up war


by Larisa Alexandrovna, June 10, 2009 RAW STORY

Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have threatened all-out Congressional thermonuclear war over any additional release of detainee abuse photos. In a joint statement to the press, the duo is claiming that concern for national security is the impetus for such an aggressive move:

"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.

"Let it clearly be understood that without this legislation the photos in question are likely to be released. Such a release would be tantamount to a death sentence to some who are serving our nation in the most dangerous and difficult spots like Iraq and Afghanistan. It is this certain knowledge of these consequences of having the photos released that will cause us to vote against the supplemental and continue our push to turn our important amendment into law."

Let us assume for a moment that both Lieberman and Graham are in fact genuinely concerned about our national security and it is for this reason they are pursuing such drastic censorship measures.

Against the backdrop of this assumption, I think it fair to explain to both Senators the reasons the public is demanding the release of these photos.


We now know that the former president, vice president, their advisers, and attorneys at the DOJ created an illegal program of torture without the approval of Congress and against standing domestic and international law.

The eight members of Congress who were briefed seem to have been misled about the actual use of the program and its particulars.

There is evidence suggesting that the torture program was initiated in order to fabricate evidence via false confessions to take this nation into an illegal war of aggression.


As a side effect of this program, tens of thousands were held without charge. Between 2003-2005, roughly 35,000 people were held by US coalition forces in various Iraqi prisons. Only 2% of those were ever charged with a crime and none with any crimes relating to terrorism.

It is not known if these roughly 35,000 people were all tortured, which is a breathtaking absence of information when we consider that as a democratic nation we are entitled to know.

Moreover, the combined figures of those detained in both Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001-2005 is upwards of 70,000. Most of these individuals were either released without charge or are being still held without charge. How were these people treated? Were any of these people tortured?

Of course we also don't know just how many people have been tortured at our various other known and "black" facilities. In fact, we don't have a good grasp on just who is being held at our various prisons and what their alleged crimes are. Nor do we know if NGOs such as the Red Cross were given access to all prisoners and in all conditions.

But what we do know is that at least 108 people died in our custody and at least 25 of those deaths were declared a homicide.

The reality is that it is more than likely that thousands have died in our custody, hundreds were the result of homicide, and more than likely those homicides occurred during implementation of the torture program.


In defense of this program, the former Bush administration officials implicated in it claim that it was not illegal, was not torture, and was necessary to save American lives. Bush and Cheney both admit to not only knowing about this program, but approving this program.

While it has been proved conclusively that it was in fact an illegal program, in violation of both domestic and international law, the public is still confused on whether these methods were in fact torture and isbeing misled into believing that Americans lives were saved as a result.


The pictures would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that these methods were in fact torture, and that these methods resulted in the brutal abuse of possibly thousands of people and the deaths of possibly thousands of people. These photos would also prove that whoever ordered these methods, approved these methods, knew about these methods, and carried out these methods is absolutely guilty of the most brutal crimes.


The most obvious solution to address both the concerns of Lieberman and Graham and the concerns of the public is to release these photos during criminal proceedings. The photos themselves can be sealed as evidence and can be viewed by a jury, while the public can be provided with the descriptions of the photos.

But Lieberman and Graham do not want to hold anyone to account and therefore, are not only covering up these crimes and obstructing justice, they are claiming national security as a reason to not make public the very evidence they know will put all those involved - possibly even themselves - on trial.

Is it not obvious that pictures released and sealed, as part of a criminal proceeding, would make us infinitely safer than covering up these crimes? Would those who want to harm Americans feel more inclined to do so if they thought America did not hold their own criminals accountable? I would wager yes.

So I find entirely disingenuous the claim that these men are simply doing their civic duty rather than covering up crimes. I also find their methods to be more of a threat to our national security than the evidence they are seeking to censor. Moreover, I find these tactics, the crimes committed and covered up, and the lack of accountability the most dangerous thing of all not only to our national security, but to our democracy and way of life.

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This page contains a single entry published on June 10, 2009 1:19 PM.

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