Bin Laden Death Images Remain Secret
A federal judge ruled Thursday that video and photographs of Osama Bin Laden’s death would remain classified, CNN reports. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denied the suit against the Department of Defense by Judicial Watch, which had filed a Freedom of Information request for the material.
The judge rejected arguments by the conservative legal group about the administration’s “unlawful withholding of requested records,” accepting the government’s argument that disclosure would violate national security interests. Until now, only a select group of leading congressmen have been allowed to view photos of the arch terrorist’s corpse.
“A picture may be worth a thousand words. And perhaps moving pictures bear an even higher value,” Boasberg declared in his ruling. “Yet, in this case, verbal descriptions of the death and burial of Osama bin Laden will have to suffice, for this court will not order the release of anything more.”
Judicial Watch initially argued that the suit was part of the American people’s legitimate “right to know.” The legal group also claimed that not wanting to “spike the football” was not a legal reason to withhold government documents, especially when the administration had used previously used the assassination for political gain.
“The court got it terribly wrong,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in response to the rejection. “There is no provision under the Freedom of Information Act that allows documents to be kept secret because their release might offend our terrorist enemies. We will appeal.”
Islamist forums debated the authenticity of the administration’s claims for months following the assassination, before al-Qaida confirmed bin Laden’s death. It is unlikely that the release of the photos would sway stalwart deniers of bin Laden’s death, although it may influence jihadi arguments about the mutilation of his corpse.