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Senate passes bill blocking release of detainee photos

[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] voted unanimously Wednesday to approve legislation [S 1100 materials] that would block the release of controversial photos [JURIST news archive] allegedly depicting abuse of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. The legislation, which is included in a war spending bill, would exempt the disclosure of certain photographs under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text] in cases where the secretary of defense certifies that such disclosure would endanger US personnel. Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) [official websites] praised the passage of the bill [press release], calling it, "essential to protecting our fighting men and women." The bill must now go before the US House of Representatives [official website].

Last week, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] ruled that the US government can continue to withhold photos [JURIST report] of alleged detainee abuse while it awaits a response from the US Supreme Court [official website]. The appellate-level decision followed a recent Supreme Court order [JURIST report] granting the government a 30-day extension to appeal a ruling mandating the release of the controversial photos, setting the new deadline to July 9. In May, US President Barack Obama decided to seek a delay [JURIST report] of the release of the photographs in question, contrary to a previous agreement by the DOJ to release them pursuant to a court order [order, PDF]. The original district court order resulted from a FOIA challenge [ACLU materials] brought by the American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] against the Department of Defense. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] affirmed the order in April.

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