Last pictures, video of Osama Bin Laden can stay classified: US court

Published: May 21, 2013
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Osama Bin Laden was killed in a night time raid in Abbottabad in Pakistan over two years ago. PHOTO: FILE

Osama Bin Laden was killed in a night time raid in Abbottabad in Pakistan over two years ago. PHOTO: FILE

WASHINGTON: A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the US government had properly classified top secret more than 50 images of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden taken after his death, and that the government did not need to release them.

The unanimous ruling by three judges on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a request for the images by a conservative nonprofit watchdog group.

Judicial Watch sued for photographs and video from the May 2011 raid in which US special forces killed bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after more than a decade of searching.

The organisation’s lawsuit relied on the Freedom of Information Act, a 1966 law that guarantees public access to some government documents.

In an unsigned opinion, the appeals court accepted an assertion from President Barack Obama’s administration that the images are so potent that releasing them could cause riots that would put Americans abroad at risk.

“It is undisputed that the government is withholding the images not to shield wrongdoing or avoid embarrassment, but rather to prevent the killing of Americans and violence against American interests,” the opinion said.

The court ruled that the risk of violence justifies the decision to classify the images top secret, and that the CIA may withhold the images under an exception to the Freedom of Information Act for documents that are classified.

Judicial Watch did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, which represents the Obama administration in court, had no immediate comment.

The images show a dead bin Laden at his compound in Pakistan, the transportation of his body to a US ship and his burial at sea, the government has said.

Some of the photographs were taken so the CIA could conduct facial recognition analysis to confirm the body’s identity, according to court papers.

The case is Judicial Watch Inc v. US Department of Defense and CIA, US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, No. 12-5137.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Final Solution
    May 21, 2013 - 11:16PM

    Yes please no need to leak out his video. Then they’ll be used by Jihadi tanzeems as recruitment materialRecommend

  • Rafiq
    May 22, 2013 - 12:14AM

    @Final Solution:
    As if publicly know death of OBL is not enough for recruitment.
    @Obama and rest of the lot
    Releasing blasphemous materials does not cause riots? What happened in Ben Ghazi?

    Recommend

  • truthseeker
    May 22, 2013 - 3:34AM

    Does it even exist?

    Recommend

  • Sexton Blake
    May 22, 2013 - 9:25AM

    The US court judgement that OBL pictures cannot be released is an excellent indication that the Abbottabad incident was a fake.

    Recommend

  • query
    May 23, 2013 - 6:21PM

    Query – is a picture of a dead man better evidence than leaving behind his wifes/children who witnessed his death/execution?

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  • Sexton Blake
    May 23, 2013 - 7:29PM

    @query:
    Dear query,
    Unless you have spoken to OBL’s wife and children, or you were present at the so called Abbottabad incident, you are pre-supposing that Washington’s leaders gave an accurate summation of what happened, although everybody is aware that they have a habit of evading the truth. A good example of this is Iraq, and the so called weapons of mass destruction, which I believe the Americans are still looking for 12 years later. We can be reasonably sure that if a Washington politician’s lips are moving there is an excellent chance he/she is obfuscating the truth, and this is no more evident than the discourse upon the whole sorry Abbottabad saga.

    Recommend

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