Watchdog seeks bin Laden photo, says White House 'not above the law'
A Washington-based watchdog group is suing the CIA and Defense Department to release photos of Osama bin Laden.
June 10th, 2011
11:25 AM ET

Watchdog seeks bin Laden photo, says White House 'not above the law'

A conservative legal watchdog group says the deadline is up and is suing the CIA and Defense Department to release photos and videos of the May raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

"The American people by law have a right to know basic information about the killing of Osama bin Laden," Tom Fitton, president of Washington-based Judicial Watch, said in a statement. "President Obama's personal reluctance to release the documents is not a lawful basis for withholding them. The Obama administration will now need to justify its lack of compliance in federal court. This historic lawsuit should remind the administration that it is not above the law."

The al Qaeda mastermind was killed when U.S. Navy SEALs stormed his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2. He was later buried at sea. Though some members of Congress have been allowed to see photos and CIA Director Leon Panetta initially said it was "important" that the photos be released, President Barack Obama said his administration would not release photos of the slain terrorist leader or his burial.

The photos - which have been described as gruesome and reportedly show brains hanging out of bin Laden's eye socket - could be used as a propaganda tool and could result in additional violence against American interests, Obama told "60 Minutes" last month, comparing the release of the photos to an unnecessary end-zone celebration.

"We don't trot out this stuff as trophies," Obama told the news show. "We don't need to spike the football."

Judicial Watch, which describes itself as a "conservative, non-partisan educational foundation" pursuing transparency and integrity in government, filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the Defense Department and CIA last month.

The CIA acknowledged receiving the request May 4, according to court papers. On May 9, the Defense Department replied that it would not be able to comply with the request within the statutory 20-day period. Nor would a 10-day extension provide sufficient time, the department said.

Both departments had 20 business days to respond: June 2 for the CIA, this past Tuesday for the Defense Department, according to Judicial Watch. The group now says the government is "unlawfully withholding records," causing irreparable harm to the watchdog organization.

The suit, Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency (No.11-00890) (PDF), seeks access "to all photographs and/or video recordings of Osama (Usama) bin Laden taken during and/or after the U.S. military operation in Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011."

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Barack Obama • Courts • District of Columbia • Justice • Lawsuit • Military • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Politics • Terrorism • U.S. • U.S. Navy • World
soundoff (520 Responses)
  1. CSnSC

    Special ops should never need or be required to record a mission

    June 10, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • oyvey

      How you know you seen the photos?

      June 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bobcat2u

    Has anyone seen or heard from bin Laden since the operation was conducted ???? Hell no !!!!! God people, why can't you give it a rest ? THE DUDE IS DEAD !!!!!!!!!!! Deal with it.

    June 10, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • oyvey

      how do you know?

      June 10, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      Oyvey- Because its obvious. Al-Qaeda would love nothing more than prove that the whole thing didn't go down like it did. It would be the ultimate win for our enemies.

      June 10, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • registan

      Has anyone seen Bin Laden since December of 2001???? He has been dead for years. The reason we will never see photos or videos is because they don't exist.

      June 10, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      registran- Yes the last time he was seen was May 2, 2011. Idiot.

      June 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • aaliyah

      If he is dead then why don't they show pictures? Just saying.

      June 11, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. sandyk

    I honestly see no need to see these photos.... I am a RN and have seen similar things.... 85% of the people who want to see these pics are just like people who strain to see auto accidents.

    June 10, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Louis

      I would agree because 99% of people would look at a car accident if it were in the vicinity. The other 1% are blind.

      June 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • 112321

      Then dont look if you dont want to see them.

      June 10, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. conspiracy kook

    Omg! Obama kinda looks like Osama! Omg! The Obama/Biden logo is only a few letters away from Osama Bin Laden! 9/11 Was a Shakespeare performance! Planes did hit the towers but we're not being told the truth. Politicians and the media are frequently pointing fingers at each other calling each other liars CONSTANTLY, yet they call us crazy when the people don't trust them.. Maybe they should stop crying wolf all the time so the people can believe them for a change ya think? Everyone knows politicians are shifty and deceitful so its really the fault of those in power for them losing the trust of Americans. Id rather be crazy than a snake and a liar.

    June 10, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. conspiracy kook

    @sandyk.. ok keep putting your standards on everyone else. How's that kook aid taste?

    June 10, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. George Patton

    The C.I.A. and the D.O.D. probably have a very good reason for not releasing the photos of Ussama bin Laden. The man they murdered back on May2 and the true Ussama bin Laden are most probably two different people and these creeps don't want us to know that! The true bin Laden probably died of kidney failure around 2001 or 2002.

    June 10, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      So, the claim by the US government, backed by the terrorists themselves, is not enough for you? The fact that Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri came out and eulogized Osama, stating that the US would pay for killing him doesn't convince you? What would they gain by saying he's dead if he died 9 years ago? They would just deny it's him if it wasn't him. Moron. Seriously, please take your idiocy and nonsense somewhere else.

      June 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texas Dawn

      Tin-foil hat wearing moron. I hope you live forever. As long as you are alive I stand NO chance of being the biggest idiot alive, lol.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Anthony Weiner

    I have some pictures if anybody is interested.

    June 10, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Badger123

      Best comment of the day!

      June 10, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sandyk

    @conspiracy it is wild cherry yummy!

    June 10, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • oyvey

      stupidity is tastes like shyt but you say it tastes like cherry.

      June 10, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Andrew

    Grandstanding tools! I want all the redacted information from the Bush/Cheney era!

    June 10, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Spanish Inquisition

    We can still see footage of the great JFK being shot in all its gruesome. So hell yeah people should be able to see and determine for themselves if a very bad person got blown to hell!

    June 10, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • photodog

      If you're honest at least with yourself, you know any photos and videos of bin Laden's death won't be proof for some people (maybe even you). IMO releasing any photos to the public would serve no purpose. People will question the validity of the pics just as some still question the validity of the president's birth certificate and school records.

      June 10, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'We can still see footage of the great JFK being shot in all its gruesome'
      You mean the public film filmed on a member of the public's camera? That one? The non-governmental controlled film? That equates to pictures taken during a military mission how?

      June 10, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Paul

    what law exactly is the President breaking? I mean if he is breaking a law, then every president since at least FDR has broken the very same law hundreds if not thousands of times. Where were they all those other times?

    June 10, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • 112321

      You are a turd

      June 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. joenavy

    What a wacko. He's dead and as much as I dislike EVERYTHING this bum of a president has done thus far, honestly, I commend him on this decision. These morons feel this need to sue to see a photo that, if released, is going to put this country in a very bad position, then Obama has already put us in, don't cave in to this foolishness. Our boys did what needed to be done, and he's dead...end of story, time to move on.

    June 10, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • More important things to do

      My question would be what benefit does it fill to release these pictures? Both side (US and Al Quada) have stated that BL is dead. If you are a conspiracy theorist that beleives BL is now hanging out with Elvis and Jim Morrison, then you have a very empty life. Simply put, keep the pics under lock and key.

      June 10, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Actually, President Obama has not placed us in any bad position. Our economy has improved since he was in office. Its always a democrat who has to clean up after a Bush's mess. First with Clinton, now with Obama. Clinon's first years were exactly the same, retardicans want us to fix it faster. It took clinton 4+ years to do it and it will take Obama the same. Plus he is fixing it against all ODDS. He has a WHOLE PARTY who refuses to work with anything he does. Prime example, Romney passed almost a MIRROR health care reform for his state but is against the President's. Why? Because they do not want him to succeed. If you HATE eveything YOUR Commannder & Cheif has done then make sure you dont draw social security. It will be him that fixed it,

      June 10, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Gee Mike, you can make a post like that with a straight face and not even laugh at the absurdity of your post? lol

      June 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Charles

    This really isn't a historic lawsuit; it's not even historic hyperbole. And for "the American people by law have a right to know basic information about the killing of Osama bin Laden," we already know the basic information, duh.

    But I would like to have Judicial Watch explain how a photo conveys information to ALL Americans, such as the blind. It's just so easy for Judicial Watch to just ignore S508 when the government can't.

    June 10, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Good thing Charles is not in charge.

      June 10, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. CJD1965

    Conservative, nonpartisan? I'm sorry but those two descriptors contradict each other

    June 10, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bush Laden

    False lawsuit. Obama didn't hold them back for personal reasons. He held them so as not to further inflame religious nuts surrounded our troops and citizens abroad. Cartoons of Mohammed and obscure FL preachers talking about Koran burning drove those nuts violent. Obama has good reason to feel he should hold them back.

    June 10, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Your parroting skills are superlative!

      June 10, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
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