The conservative group Judicial Watch and the Associated Press are both calling for footage from Osama bin Laden’s death. The White House, however, refuses to budge.
The White House and the rest of the Obama administration are again fighting the release of Osama bin Laden’s death photos.
The 52 photos, as well as video footage of the terrorist leader’s end, have been contentious ever since he was killed last May, when the president and his team insisted the images should be kept under lock and key lest they inspire more terror attacks.
That’s the same argument they’re now using to fight the latest bin Laden-related Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, this one from the right wing group Judicial Watch. According to that group’s leader, Tom Fitton, releasing the classified photos would show the administration’s commitment to transparency.
“We shouldn’t throw out our transparency laws because complying with them might offend terrorists,” said Fitton. “The historical record of Osama bin Laden’s death should be released to the American people as the law requires.”
Fitton and his team aren’t alone in requesting a peek at bin Laden’s final photo shoot. The Associated Press filed a similar request less than a day after the al-Qaeda mastermind’s death.
Despite the added pressure of the Judicial Watch lawsuit, the CIA’s director of National Clandestine Service, John Bennett, remains adamant that the “graphic” images remain a mystery.
“The public release of the responsive records would provide terrorist groups and other entities hostile to the United States with information to create propaganda which, in turn, could be used to recruit, raise funds, inflame tensions, or rally support for causes and actions that reasonably could be expected to result in exceptionally grave damage to both the national defense and foreign relations of the United States,” he said in a statement.
Fitton describes the administration’s tenacity as a “political decision.” And of course it is: everything involving bin Laden’s death is inherently political.
Releasing the photos would have political ramifications, ie: sparking more anti-American protests overseas. Keeping the images under lock and key, however, also gives right wingers — and others — fuel in their war of words on President Obama, whose opponents can now say is hiding the truth.
But any which way you cut it, the sad truth is that this debate gives the increasingly immortal Osama bin Laden the last laugh. His death photos will either inflame his supporters or further divide our fiercely partisan nation on issues of transparency and security, giving him exactly what he wanted all along: a severely weakened and broken United States.