WASHINGTON - Public disclosure of graphic photos and video taken of Osama bin Laden after he was killed in May by US commandos would damage national security and lead to attacks on American property and personnel, the Obama administration contends in a court documents.
In a response late Monday to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group seeking the imagery, Justice Department attorneys said the CIA has located 52 photographs and video recordings. But they argued the images are classified and are being withheld from the public to avoid inciting violence against Americans overseas and compromising secret systems and techniques used by the CIA and the military.
The Justice Department has asked the court to dismiss Judicial Watch’s lawsuit because the records the group wants are “wholly exempt from disclosure,’’ according to the filing.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, accused the Obama administration of making a “political decision’’ to keep the bin Laden imagery secret. “We shouldn’t throw out our transparency laws because complying with them might offend terrorists,’’ Fitton said. “The historical record of Osama bin Laden’s death should be released to the American people as the law requires.’’