Almost two years after US special forces killed Osama bin Laden, the United States told a court on Thursday it is not ready to release images taken of the al Qaeda leader post mortem because they still might lead to violence. President Obama’s administration points to an exception that covers documents classified in the interest of national security.
The Justice Department lawyer Robert Loeb warned the US Court of Appeals:
“They’ll be used to inflame tensions. They’ll be used to inspire retaliatory attacks.”
Loeb also adds that riots or other forms of violence could threaten American soldiers as well as civilians in Afghanistan. According to Yahoo News, the government has quite a few photos or videos from the May 2011 raid in which US special forces killed bin Laden after more than ten years of persistence. The images show a dead bin Laden at his compound, the transportation of his body to a US ship and his burial at sea, the government has said.
Merrick Garland and Judith Rogers, two of the three judges, asked questions indicating they were inclined to defer to sworn court affidavits advising against release.
“They’re telling us that could result in death – not just the release of secret information, but death. Is that not something we should defer to?”
Judicial Watch also claims that CIA officials might not have followed protocol when they classified the media as secret. A decision is likely in the next few months. A lower court judge sided with the government in April, says Reuters.
What do you think about this? Should bin Laden’s post mortem photos be kept secret for the sake of national security?