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. FXY

    "sources say" Osama is not really dead – Obama in an effort to create good propaganda has Osama locked up in a secret location and is drilling him for info – Obamas way of trying to get people to re-elect him by creating more and more lies and deception.

    June 10, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • ewole

      You're insane.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Drew

      Seriously? That's the best you can come up with? Unsupportable conspiracy theories with a baseline assumption that the president is a self-serving criminal? Why don't you try complaining about something real for once.

      Obama's the one who got Osama. That is an fact that cannot be reduced.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • justin

      what a moron ... plus people always have to make it freaking political both parties do it so they both make me SICK Both parties fight year after year and it destroys the country and causes a noticeable division ... grow up democraps and republitards You're both wrong when you fight. Why don't you try something new and work together to get us out of this recession?

      June 10, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • PithyMcGee

      BWA-HAHAHAHAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAAAAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!!!!!!! You're a loon.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don_J

      Dude...just stop lying... What "sources"? Your buddies Jed and Roy don't count as sources.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Get back on your meds!

      June 10, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • rapidone

      oh great another moron with lots to say and little brains to back anything up. This country has lost its humility and it's quite ugly.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • mswhite

      @FYX...i think youi misspelled your name...FOX....and forgot to post your las name...NEWS

      June 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. hum-dinger

    By using the football example , he is saying to Americans to go back to watching TV and that you are not smart enough to understand a real answer if there ever was one. America is a sinking ship in every possible way right now and you people are mostly interested in stories about the mother killing her baby or some other distraction. High five from Canada , eh !

    June 10, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      up yours, eh!

      June 10, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • scoto

      Well as our biggest trading partner and and as a country who has much invested as our neighbor I wouldnt be too happy about the US being a "sinking ship" The US gets a cold, Canada gets pneumonia. Remember that? As a fellow Canadian living here in the US you dont do us much credit as a gloating Canuck high fiving the possibility of your own demise.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don_J

      You know "hum-dinger"... you may be right about one thing... people like you do not understand "adult explanations", so yeah he had to explain it to you like you were a 5 year old... or as in your case, Canadian.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Canadian Idiot

      June 10, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • rapidone

      dinger's point without what he said in the end is the truth: too many Americans have embraced idiocy by allowing their hate and anger take hold. Such loud morons out there doing things like what Judicial Watch has done: instead of thinking rationally about the safety and prosperity of our country and its citizens and military personnel, they've decided its better to be obnoxious to these ends in suing for these pictures that will really prove NOTHING to anyone with doubts.

      YOU DON'T THINK THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT COULD FABRICATE PICTURES OF AN OBLITERATED CORPSE??

      It's that simple folks–anyone demanding to see the pictures for 'proof' is a liar, a moron, or a bigot. Enough said.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Philip

    The chief suspect in an ongoing murder investigation(s) was assassinated. I recall a time not long ago when that would have raise some eyebrows. What does it take now? Plastic surgury?

    June 10, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rob

    What a bunch of morons wasting the courts and money...

    June 10, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Ditto! They don't have enough to do.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Realist

    Ditto on "a bunch of morons wasting the courts and money"

    June 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nyrnok

    So if this picture is produced what does it prove? It like producing President Obama's birth certificate and still there are those out there who say it is a fake.

    June 10, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. yoyo

    who cares about the picture. Don't we have some serious things to deal about?

    June 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    Are they going to sue the government for Top Secret materials, too? I love the description of this joke of an organization as 'bipartisan.' Doubtful. Where were these people – whether as individuals or as members of a formal organization – when Bush was claiming evidence and intelligence supporting the claim that Iraq possessed WMDs? What a bunch of hypocritical idiots with nothing more to do than pursue a juvenile, party-based agenda. The political landscape in this country is pathetic.

    June 10, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Yes... I... we all wonder where this self-rightous bunch of hypocrits was when Bush was shoveling the WMD load!

      June 10, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Steve D

    Suing the Federal Government for violating the law, LoL......they are the law.... Mr Fitten your law suit is already
    in the Dead Files to be shredded LoL...

    June 10, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Me

    No, the White House is not above the law. But they are above the petty and frivolous lawsuits filed by people and organizations that have a morbid desire to see a photo that puts into jeopardy the safety of their fellow Americans, either here in the US or abroad.

    June 10, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ProperVillain

    I think the American public has the right to see the photos. After all, we all foot the bill for the operation as taxpayers. The excuses that I hear so far for not making them public are just pathetic. The worst is the are "too grisly" to show. Yes, please don't offend our overly-sensitive minds with a death photo of a mass murderer. It may traumatize us. THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!

    June 10, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • justin

      I dont think they're not showing the pictures because they're too grisly necessarily, I think its because if they show them it puts the Navy Seals who took him out and their families at risk and it opens America up to more HATERS who will say we are show-boating and cause more Arab hatred towards us and might cause civilians across the world to be at risk

      June 10, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      It won't prove anything, anyway. Right to see it or not, there's no point. Move on.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Voltairine

    The photo belongs to the public and it is abuse of power to arrogantly deny that to the citizens of this country especially since it has nothing to do with national security. The state needs to re-learn its place.

    June 10, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      "The photo belongs to the public." WHAT? How did you come up with this idea? The photo does NOT belong to the public. If you had any idea of the intrigues needed to successfully run a country and keep it secure, well ... you wouldn't have posted what you did. Stupidity.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • photoshopmutherphucker

      Yeah, because "the public" found his pad, snuck into Pakistan, shot him, and took pictures. o that's theirs, fair and square... or not.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Voltairine

      It is YOU that doesn't understand your own government. Every single little thing, including that photograph, belongs to the people of this country and the only reason why it could be legally withheld would be a matter of national security, which the President himself has already said is not the case. Go read about your own government. This is public property and it is not for the state in this case to choose to keep it from us. We the People had enough of the state dictating to us what it will and won't release; that's why we had to make the Freedom of Information Act, because the state was arrogantly and illegally withholding information.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Voltairine

      @Photoshop LOL! The soldiers that did this are agents of the people of this country! Whatever they get is public information and belongs to the people and can only be withheld if it compromises national security, which the President already said it wasn't. You people need to learn about the freaking nation you live in!

      June 10, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Voltairine

      omg you people are freaking gerbils. The photo is public information and therefore the President has no right to withhold it from the public. I couldn't care less if the guy is dead or not. What I care about is that the state not exceed its authority. The only legitimate reason to withhold that photo, and even then it must still be presented to a Congressional committee if so ordered, is if it breaches national security, which the President has already said is NOT the case. If you people don't want court time wasted to keep "your" government from abuse of power then tell Obama, Bush, Clinton, Regan, LBJ, etc. to STOP EXCEEDING THEIR AUTHORITY!

      June 10, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • photoshopmutherphucker

      You need to understand that a pic don't mean squat, and only some weird moron would want to see it or think it would resolve anything. A picture is easy to fake/edit. It's not like they're offering the video... it's not like you'd be able to ID bin Laden anyway if it were. There's nothing to gain from this, and you're very confused about what any government "has to" do in any situation. Keep drinking that kool-aid!

      June 10, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Truthwillsetyoufree

    Sick f's just wanna see his dead pics....

    June 10, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. justin

    I for one am proud of my president for getting the job done. Its nothing political for me I respect the leader of my country and I just wish Congress would work WITH him for once so we, the people, can get out of this crap

    June 10, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Well said!

      June 10, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Su Su

      Justin, thank you for your words. I agree with you 100%.

      June 10, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. photoshopmutherphucker

    Since photographs are always irrefutable proof of everything, and they cannot be faked, edited or tampered with in any way, I can really understand why this has gone to court. Really. I totally get why this didn't end in a slammed door or a hang-up on the phone. Really.

    June 10, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
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