The fight over the photos of Osama Bin Laden’s corpse continues nearly six months after U.S. forces killed the al-Qaida leader.
In the latest development, the Obama administration asked a court this week to dismiss a lawsuit from a conservative legal watchdog group that is suing for a public release of the graphic photos, the Associated Press reports.
In its filing, the Justice Department said that the CIA has located a total of 52 graphic photographs and video recordings taken shortly after Bin Laden was killed during the U.S. raid earlier this year. Those records, however, are “wholly exempt from disclosure,” according to the government.
In addition to being classified, administration lawyers argue that releasing the photos would incite violence against Americans living abroad, as well as, in the AP’s words, compromise “secret systems and techniques used by the CIA and the military.”
Tom Fitton, the president of the group behind the suit, Judicial Watch, had this to say in response: "We shouldn't throw out our transparency laws because complying with them might offend terrorists," he said in a statement. "The historical record of Osama Bin Laden's death should be released to the American people as the law requires."
The AP has submitted its own Freedom of Information Act request for a host of Bin Laden materials, including the death photos:
The Obama administration refused AP's request to quickly consider its request for the records. AP appealed the decision, arguing that unnecessary bureaucratic delays harm the public interest and allow anonymous U.S. officials to selectively leak details of the mission. Without expedited processing, requests for sensitive materials can be delayed for months and even years. The AP submitted its request to the Pentagon less than one day after Bin Laden's death.