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. steve

    I don't want to see the pictures, however, if the law says Obama's got to turn them over, then he must...nuff said.

    June 12, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • SFC S

      If an item is classified information it is not for public consumption. DOD classifies information on a need to know basis, and individuals even with high enough clearance are not allowed access merely because they are qualified. IT IS A NEED TO KNOW BASIS. Items can be classified TOP SECRET with a non reduct date over 75 years in the future beore they are ever released for public knowledge. That is it, that is all, this is just a waste of our taxpayers money. If he wanted to see it he Should have been one of the OPERATORS ON THE TEAM going into the compound.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
    • cornflakes

      nuff u so l33t

      June 13, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • OIF_VET_03

      @ SFC – Things are classified to protect two things: sources and methods. These photos fall outside of that... I personally believe they should be witheld because they are too inflammatory. However, these photos should not be classified due to security concerns. UBL is dead. We did it, and we claimed responsibility for his trip to hell. Nothing secret about that – but pictures of Osama with brain hanging out of his eye socket is not good PR, and not what the American public is used to seeing.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. citizen

    Doesn't anyone, either in the US government or as a private citizen, recognize releasing videos or photos could seriously jeopardize the lives of the Special Forces members who completed this mission? We have an moral obligation to protect their identify – enough said!

    June 13, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • More $ wins

      Good point.

      June 13, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      They understand, they just don't care. Their need to live vicariously thru other people outweighs any danger they will put the people who actually has the bravery to carry out the mission in. It's all about ME ME ME, and screw anyone else, including those brave enough to serve.

      June 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. vet oif 07-09

    i dont understand the govt sumtimes...its ok for the news to show american citizens and reporters get executed on tv...but when it comes to the worlds most wanted, there scared to show a picture? so what if brains are hanging see that kind of thing in video games and even cartoons...i think if we were to see the picture it might bring a little more ease to our sences but also might heaten up the "terrorists"...just cuz osamas dead does NOT mean the threat is gone people...hes just one of many

    June 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. puppydog

    The solution is so simple! All you have to do is have the DoD place the images into a file labeled Sony. In no time someone from Anonymous will show up and hack the file. Problem solved. 😛

    June 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. USArmyOverLord

    Who cares about the pictures. Now show me that video of OBL head exploding, now we are talking. To those wasting time and money trying to sue. GET OVER IT. He's dead, now who is next on the target list? 😉

    June 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Amused

    Ohh Noo! A self-proclaimed "watchdog" group can't get a copy of a classified photo image. Boo Hoo....

    June 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Me

    People do have a right to know and the "need to know" steps in where the American people need to know if their government is telling the truth. It's akin to a personal situation where you believe someone is lying to you and withholding things from you. So to televise that Bin Laden is dead could be considered the "spiking the football." But it's like saying you made a touchdown without anyone seeing it.

    June 14, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Major US Army - been there, done that, doing it again

    Tom Fitton –
    Hey Chicken-s*#t MF – put on the uniform, stand on the line, do a raid, get shot at, blown up, bury your friends and Soldiers, sacrifice more than your right to say whatever it is that goes through your rabid-ass mind, then you get to see the pictures. Or better yet, you get to remember faces, places, events, but not those of your anniversary, your children's significant events, birthdays, Christmas, Easter....just images of bodies, flashbacks of explosions, long sleepless nights...and best of get to read bs from sorry-ass MF like you...who want to get there names in papers instead of serving something bigger than themselves. I'd rather you move to France and exercise your rights there. I would love to see you in a bar just so I can buy your sorry ass a drink as a return on the investment of your taxes.

    June 15, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      I like you...and thank you for your service to our great country. God bless you.

      June 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Katie

    Really? If you REALLY want to see what happens on a military raid, PUT ON A UNIFORM AND GO OVER AND SERVE YOUR COUNTRY, instead of sitting behind a desk and whining about your "rights". Give me a break...

    June 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
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