|Bin Laden photos must stay secret, court claims |
|Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 9:33 pm |
|By RICHARD LARDNER |
WASHINGTON (AP) — Public disclosure of graphic photos and video taken of Osama bin Laden after he was killed in May by U.S. commandos would damage national security and lead to attacks on American property and personnel, the Obama administration contends in a court documents.
In a response late Mon-day to a Freedom of Infor-mation Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group seeking the imagery, Justice Department attorneys said the CIA has located 52 photographs and video recordings. But they argued the images of the deceased bin Laden are classified and are being withheld from the public to avoid inciting violence against Americans overseas and compromising secret systems and techniques used by the CIA and the military.
The Justice Department has asked the court to dismiss Judicial Watch’s lawsuit because the records the group wants are “wholly exempt from disclosure,” according to the filing.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, accused the Obama administration of making a “political decision” to keep the bin Laden imagery secret. “We shouldn’t throw out our transparency laws because complying with them might offend terrorists,” Fitton said in a statement. “The historical record of Osama bin Laden’s death should be released to the American people as the law requires.”
The Associated Press has filed Freedom of Information Act requests to review a range of materials, such as contingency plans for bin Laden’s capture, reports on the performance of equipment during the May 1 assault on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and copies of DNA tests confirming the al-Qaida leader’s identity.
The AP also has asked for video and photographs taken from the mission, including photos made of bin Laden after he was killed.
The Obama administration refused AP’s request to quickly consider its request for the records. AP appealed the decision, arguing that unnecessary bureaucratic delays harm the public interest and allow anonymous U.S. officials to selectively leak details of the mission. Without expedited processing, requests for sensitive materials can be delayed for months and even years.
The AP submitted its request to the Pentagon less than one day after bin Laden’s death.
Published in The Messenger 9.28.11