Liz Cheney Assails Release of Detainee Abuse Photos as ‘Siding with Terrorists’ — and Is White House Walking the Photo Release Back?

May 12, 2009 3:25pm

ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Karen Travers report:

The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State For Near Eastern Affairs Liz Cheney, took to the television airwaves today to assail the decision by President Obama to release photographs, as ordered by a judge, showing detainee abuse by American soldiers and/or CIA operatives in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"I have heard from families of sevicemembers, from families of 9/11 victims, this question about, you know, ‘When did it become so fashionable for us to side, really, with the terrorists?’" Ms. Cheney said on Fox News Channel. "You know, for us to put information out that hurts American soldiers?"

Cheney said Obama administration officials "seem only to be interested in releasing things that really paint America in a negative light, and don’t give the American people a full picture of what went on."

Last month, the Obama administration announced that the Pentagon would turn over to the American Civil Liberties Union 44 photographs showing detainee abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Bush administration.

The photographs are part of a 2003 Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU for all information relating to the treatment of detainees — the same battle that led, last month, to President Obama’s decision to release memos from the Bush Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel providing legal justifications for brutal interrogation methods that the International Committee of the Red Cross has called torture.

The Obama administration opted not to take the fight over the photographs all the way to the Supreme Court.

"I think that it is really appalling that the administration is taking this step," Liz Cheney said today. "Clearly, you know, they’re releasing images that really show American military men and women in a very negative light. And President Obama has a lot of sort of rhetoric about support for our military families and support for our men and women who are fighting overseas but, you know, if he really cares about them he wouldn’t be making such an effort to release photos that show them in a negative light."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was today asked about a letter from Sens. Joe Lieberman, D-Ind., and Lindsey Graham, R-SC, asking him to reverse the decision, saying the "release of these old photographs of past behavior that has now been clearly prohibited can serve no public good, but will empower al-Qaeda propaganda operations, hurt our country’s image, and endanger our men and women in uniform."

Gibbs said "obviously, the president has, has great concern about any impact that pictures of detainee — potential detainee abuse in the past could have on the present-day service members that are protecting our freedom either in Iraq, Afghanistan, or throughout the world. That’s something the president is very cognizant of. And we are working to — we are working currently to figure out what the process is moving forward."

He would not elaborate.

– Jake Tapper and Karen Travers

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