Gizmodo looks like they're the last publication to show up at the file-a-FOIA-request-to-see-bin-Laden's-body party, but it's interesting to see how the Pentagon maintains that they really don't have any pictures or videos or anything of the terrorist's burial at sea. This isn't the first time the Pentagon's brushed off a FOIA request related to bin Laden's death. We counted eight organizations who'd filed requests back in May, all of whom received responses similar to the one that Gizmodo posted on Thursday afternoon. Politico was one of them and their government transparency guru Josh Gerstein explains that just because the Pentagon doesn't have the photos, doesn't mean the photos don't exist. Gerstein wrote in September:
The government filings claim that the Defense Department found no imagery responsive to the requests. Sources previously told POLITICO that at least some of the images were on a secure, classified interagency network accessible to individuals at various agencies. The new court filings don't make clear who took the photos and video. If they were in posession of military personnel at the time the FOIA requests were made or thereafter, some of the arguments for disclosure could be strengthened. However, it's also possible that the courts may accept that the entire operation is an intelligence activity that the CIA is entitled to keep secret or disclose as it sees fit.
In case you were wondering, this is what a FOIA denial looks like:
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