SOURCE: The American Legion

September 24, 2009 09:15 ET

The American Legion Strongly Opposes ACLU Continuing Campaign to Release Controversial Detainee Photos

Civil Liberties Group Says It "Shares Deep Concern" About Safety of Troops; Legion Has Doubts

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - September 24, 2009) - The leader of the nation's largest veterans' service organization says he considers a civil liberties group's continuing campaign to force the public release of photographs purporting to exhibit abuse of suspected terrorists to be "unconscionable." In a breakfast briefing at the National Press Club in Washington this week, the legal director of The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Steven R. Shapiro, said his group "shares deep concern" about the safety of American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq but, nevertheless, will pursue a legal course that could, say some, endanger them.

"Military leaders and President Obama himself have conceded that the release of the controversial detainee photographs could be used as propaganda and recruitment tools for terrorists and result in severe retaliation against our troops so it's hard to not doubt the ACLU's alleged concern for our warriors," said Clarence E. Hill, national commander of The American Legion.

In pressing for release of the photos, the ACLU says that the public has a "right to know" about what they consider government misconduct in the form of prisoner abuse, and that suppression of the photos -- which may number as many as two thousand, says the group -- could seriously endanger the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and result in future cover-ups of abuse of governmental power.

"No one wants a government to go unchecked, but the detainee abuses have been very well documented and very well publicized already," Hill said. "In response, the ACLU argues that 'a picture is worth a thousand words.' That may be, but is the spotlighting in a sensational way of this past misconduct worth the risk? We don't think so."

The ACLU's briefing was a preview of cases and issues to be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court in its upcoming legal season.

With a current membership of 2.5-million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.

A high resolution photo of Nat. Cmdr. Hill is available at www.legion.org.

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