Osama bin Laden

Fight to Release Osama Bin Laden Photos May Head to Supreme Court


Somebody slaved over that cover for minutes!
credit: André-Pierre / Foter / CC BY

Judicial Watch, the conservative non-profit transparency activist group, is petitioning the Supreme Court to review its case and force the federal government to release all photographs and video recordings of Osama bin Laden taken during and after the raid at the Pakistan compound that ended in his death in 2011.

In response to Judicial Watch's request, the CIA and Department of Defense have said the images are classified for reasons of national security and have refused to turn them over. So far the feds have won two court challenges, and Judicial Watch is not happy about the deference to the executive branch's claims that releasing the photos will create national security problems:

In its cert petition Judicial Watch argues that "the instant case is the poster child of the almost blind deference being provided to the Executive Branch" by the courts in recent years in cases involving the withholding of classified materials. The petition asks the Supreme Court to "reverse this disturbing reversal," and mandate the courts to "conduct meaningful review" or the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) will "continue as less of a disclosure than a withholding statute."

Among the five arguments Judicial Watch is using to petition the Supreme Court is the idea that the "national security threat" being invoked is entirely speculative:

[T]he court seems to suggest that the result of such violence and attacks [possibly triggered by the release of the photos and videos] is equivalent to exceptionally grave damage to national security. Prior to this ruling, no court had ever held that speculative, unspecific violence harms the national defense of the United States.

Judicial Watch's Petition for a Writ of Certiorari can be viewed here (pdf).