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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Media Outlets File Freedom of Information Act Requests For bin Laden Raid Photos

The Associated Press has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to force the Obama administration to produce the photographic evidence taken during the raid that led to the death of al-Qeada leader, Osama bin Laden.

Politico, Fox News, Judicial Watch and Citizens United have all also filed FOIA requests.

There are not many that don't believe bin Laden is dead, al-Qaeda even confirmed it to their followers, but following the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, White House officials and mouth pieces have managed to bungle the story of the sequence of events so badly (26+ different versions) that the public is left wondering what is true, what really went down, in what order and why won't the administration release visual proof.

Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor at The Associated Press, states the reasoning behind the AP's FOIA request as being "This information is important for the historical record."


For Oreskes, the photo is an important piece of evidence to establish what happened during the Navy SEALs raid on bin Laden's Abbottabad compound. "In the week since the raid there's been a whole series of story-lines about what happened in this raid," said Oreskes. "At this point, anything that might shed more light on what occurred is potentially quite newsworthy. So we would like this imagery to fully understand what happened during this event."

"I can't tell you what understanding we would get," he prefaced. "But we would like to see it and compare it with other things we're being told about this raid both by U.S. officials and officials in other countries."

Perhaps so, but one glaring reason to release the photo is accuracy. The American public's right to know, to see for themselves, the visual evidence of the death of the man who bragged about giving the order for the 9/11 attacks that killed so many and threw our country into complete shock.

Another reason is the photo of bin Laden dead would, no matter how gruesome the photo is, also give visual forensic evidence one way or another of bullet entry positioning, angle of entry point, etc...

Personally, I wouldn't care if bin Laden was executed on his knees, shot while sleeping or taken out while on his feet due to concerns of a bomb strapped to his body or his ability to reach for nearby weapons.

I would understand redacting portions of the video of the raid that showed SEAL member's faces, for example, but the AP is right, the death of bin Laden is history and as such should have as much factual data available to the public, not just the ever changing stories the White House has put out there.

Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz makes a very good point:

The president's decision to suppress the remaining photographic evidence is disturbing on many levels. First, it is wrong on its merits. The public is used to seeing visual portrayals of dead bodies. They are routinely shown on television and in movies. Anyone who has served as a juror or a courtroom observer in a homicide cases has seen bodies riddled with bullets or afflicted with stab wounds. We are mature enough to endure viewing such visual evidence if we choose to. Nor is there any real risk that these photographs will inflame Muslim or Arab sensibilities, any more than the photographs of Saddam Hussein did.

On a more fundamental level, I have serious doubts whether the president has the legal or constitutional authority to suppress these photographs. As Commander in Chief, he had the authority to order the kill operation, but in a country governed by the First Amendment, the president may lack the authority to decide what is published and what is suppressed. It would establish a terrible precedent for the Commander in Chief to be given the sole authority to determine what the public has the right to see and know, especially when the sole justification for suppression is a matter of judgment regarding the possible offensiveness of the photographs.

In a democracy, doubts must always be resolved in favor of disclosure, particularly in a matter of such great public interest and controversy. Surely Congress has at least equal authority to decide what to do with the photographs. Moreover, the press may have the right to obtain and publish these highly relevant items of evidence as part of its duty to inform the public. Some media will surely challenge the president's decision, and if they do I hope they win. The great Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis taught us nearly a century ago that "sunlight is the best disinfectant." The remaining evidence of how Bin Laden was killed -- the photographs and the results of any forensic tests that may have been hastily performed -- should be exposed to the sunlight of publication. Only then will the virus of doubt be disinfected.

Demands for the photographic evidence are not only coming from one side of the political aisle or another, it is coming from both, with arguments against the release showing the same.

Side note: Polls are showing that the bounce in Obama's approval numbers directly following the news of bin Laden's death are already starting (One week, two days later) to head back down, despite the fact that historic bounces from major events averaged President's a 13 percent spike that should have lasted an average of 22 weeks.

Currently, 50% approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president while 39% disapprove. In a May 2 poll by the Pew Research Center and The Washington Post, 56% approved while 38% disapproved. Obama’s current job rating represents an improvement from early April, when 47% approved of his job performance and nearly as many (45%) disapproved.

That was Pew, if you look at the averages over at RCP that lists most of the polls conducted, then averages out approval disapproval, Obama is only at 51.6 percent approval just nine days after the initial announcement of bin Laden's death.

Is there any doubt in anyone other than obamabot's minds that the White House's ever changing stories, refusal to release visual closure to the public, Obama's arrogance in thinking he and he alone should decide what the public should and shouldn't be allowed to see and the bumbled handling of the whole aftermath by his administration, is one of the major reasons for his "bounce" to start dipping in less than 2 weeks as opposed to the averaged 22 weeks it was projected to last? (Another major reason being the economy)

If so, I have this bridge in Brooklyn I am looking to sell... email me, we will discuss a price.