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Lawmakers drop detainee photo provision from war-funding bill

  • Story Highlights
  • Provision would have prohibited release of alleged detainee abuse photos
  • President Obama, who opposes photos' release, asked for provision's demise
  • Provision might have endangered bill to fund wars in Iraq, Afghanistan
  • Obama says he'll still work to block photos' release
By Evan Glass
CNN Congressional Producer
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate and House negotiators tasked with finalizing a compromise on a $105 billion bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rejected a provision Thursday night that would have prohibited the release of photos showing alleged detainee abuse.

President Obama changed his stance on pictures said to show U.S. personnel abusing detainees.

President Obama changed his stance on pictures said to show U.S. personnel abusing detainees.

The provision was dropped after President Obama raised objections in a letter addressed to the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.

"I'm writing to urge you to oppose the McConnell Amendment," the president wrote, referring to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's attempt to block the photos from being made public.

In the letter, Obama restated his own opposition to releasing the photos -- which allegedly show the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody in Afghanistan and Iraq -- and his belief "that the most direct consequence of releasing them would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger."

But the president bowed to the political reality: If the legislation included the ban, it would not have enough votes to be approved in the House, where liberal Democrats have demanded that all information regarding the detention of enemy combatants be released.

"I deeply appreciate all you have done to help with the effort to secure funding for the troops, and assure you that I will continue to take every legal and administrative remedy available to me to ensure the DoD [Department of Defense] detainee photographs are not released. Should a legislative solution prove necessary, I am committed to working with the Congress to enact legislation that achieves the objectives we share," Obama said.

The federal courts are examining whether the government should be required to release the photos, with the issue expected to ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. In the meantime, the photos are not being released.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, previously voted to block the release of the photos but said she voted otherwise on Thursday to make sure the war funding bill would be approved and that the military would receive its needed funding.

"It was a poison pill," Landrieu said. "We need to get our troops the funding they need and the only way to do that was to block [this measure]. ... And I'm fully confident that President Obama will do whatever he can to make sure those photos aren't released. Those photos will not be released."

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