The Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the photographic and video evidence taken during the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistani compound, which would include the photos taken of Bin Laden’s bloodied corpse. Other organizations that have filed FOIAs include Politico, Fox News, Judicial Watch and Citizens United.
The Associated Press’ FOIA request urged President Obama to live up to his campaign pledge
to be the most transparent government in U.S. history
Good luck with that! The Obama administration has been one of the most secretive in modern history. President Obama’s refusal to release the photos of Bin Laden’s corpse is but the latest example of how his transparency campaign promise has long since been thrown out the window. It is also one of the most disturbing examples.
As Kevin Drum wrote in Mother Jones,
These are public records of a very public operation against public enemy #1, and like it or not the public should have access to them.
If the administration is concerned about national security risks resulting from the release of a still photo from the covert operation, then say so and classify the photos accordingly. But that would be a very difficult case to make, considering that other photos, including of the burning helicopter, have been released and evidence of the covert operation was left behind for the Pakistanis to exploit. Indeed, photos taken by the Pakistanis about an hour after the U.S. attack have already been released by Reuters showing the bloody corpses of Bin Laden’s courier and son.
While I understand the argument that releasing the photos of Bin Laden’s corpse could incite further violence in the Muslim world, such concerns are far outweighed by the public’s right to know. Al Qaeda and other jihadists are already threatening violence in retribution for Bin Laden’s killing. The photos would serve as just another rationalization for what the jihadists are already aiming to do, which is to continue Bin Laden’s legacy of terror. It’s time for this administration to stop worrying so much about the sensibilities of the crackpots in the Muslim world.
President Obama has also resisted calls for releasing the photos because, as he told 60 Minutes in a pre-recorded conversation broadcasted last Sunday:
We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies.
The photos are not trophies, but they are bookends to the horrific photos of the devastation wrought by Bin Laden on 9/11.
Release the photos, President Obama. They belong to the American people who have a right, after nearly ten long years, to see for themselves the evidence that justice has been done.
Joseph Klein is the author of a recent book entitled Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations and Radical Islam.