Federal judges leery of release of post-killing bin Laden photos
WASHINGTON — Skeptical-sounding federal judges on Thursday considered whether the public can see pictures of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden taken after he had been shot dead by Navy SEALs in a raid on his hideout two years ago.
The 52 pictures, some described as “graphic” and “gruesome” by a top CIA official, highlight a Freedom of Information Act fight that climaxes just as Hollywood's version of bin Laden's death hits movie theaters. But while Hollywood's depiction has attracted both critical acclaim and political heat and was accomplished with the CIA's help, the real-world pictures snapped by elite commandos seem destined to remain secret.
“They're telling us it's a risk ... that Americans will die if we release these documents,” Judge Merrick Garland said Thursday, adding that “when the government tells us this is likely to lead to death, shouldn't we defer to that (even) more than when they say it will result in the release of secret information?”
Judge Judith Rogers, who like Garland was appointed by a Democratic president, further cited “the concern that these images could be used as propaganda.” Echoing arguments made by Obama administration officials, Rogers suggested that the propaganda concern is aggravated by the late bin Laden's prominence as al-Qaida's leader.
The explicit fears raised by two members of a three-judge appellate panel during oral arguments provided a strong indication, though no guarantee, that the court will side with the Obama administration in keeping the bin Laden photos secret.
Rejecting the Freedom of Information Act bid from a legal advocacy group called Judicial Watch would add to the cloak draped around other politically sensitive military and spy actions since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Big Bang ‘waves’ go poof under analysis
- Drivers, return to your car dealers for 2nd airbag fix
- Brooklyn warehouse goes up in smoke
- ‘Drink of the Devil’ unites formerly feuding families
- Hillary Clinton’s charter jet costs scrutinized
- Deportation relief applications for illegal immigrants available soon
- Internet rules in line for big shift
- NASA satellite to track water in soil
- States have marked drop in juvenile prison populations
- Judge expresses doubt about constitutionality of no-fly list
- Secretary of State Kerry says Cuba talks offer chance to improve lives