Suing the Government Won't Get Bin Laden's Death Photos Released

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We thought the lawsuit from activist group Judicial Watch might actually result in the release of at least some of the photos of Osama bin Laden's death, but on Thursday a judge ruled that in fact none of them should be released. Judicial Watch immediately appealed the ruling.

Politico caught the ruling from U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg late on Thursday, in which the judge sounded almost regretful that he couldn't allow the photos' release. Reporter Josh Gerstein pulled this quote:

“The Court is … mindful that many members of the public would likely desire to see images of this seminal event. Indeed, it makes sense that the more significant an event is to our nation – and the end of Bin Laden’s reign of terror certainly ranks high – the more need the public has for full disclosure. Yet, it is not this Court’s decision to make in the first instance."

Boasberg went on to say that "the CIA’s explanation of the threat to our national security that the release of these records could cause passes muster." Essentially, Boasberg ruled, Judicial Watch couldn't prove the CIA classified the photos in bad faith, while the CIA had a valid argument that the photos could potentially be used as propaganda. Per the decision:

[Clandestine Service Director John] Bennett, for one, explains that release of any of the records “reasonably could be expected to inflame tensions among overseas populations that include al-Qa’ida members or sympathizers, encourage propaganda by various terrorist groups or other entities hostile to the United States, or lead to retaliatory attacks against the United States homeland or United States citizens, officials, or other government personnel traveling or living abroad."
In the end, Boasberg wrote, "While al Qaeda may not need a reason to attack us, that does not mean no risk inheres in giving it further cause to do so." And that's the end of this saga for now, until a court takes up Judicial Watch's appeal.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.