US Won't Release Bin Laden Death Photos
By Staff News & Analysis - September 28, 2011

Pentagon fight to keep Osama bin Laden (left) death photos secret … Photos and videos of Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden after he was killed in May in a U.S. military/Central Intelligence Agency raid in Pakistan should not be released publicly because they would reveal military and intelligence secrets and could lead to violence against U.S. personnel, the Obama administration argued in papers filed in federal court in Washington late Monday night. – Politico

Dominant Social Theme: We can tell you whatever we need to, but we can't show you the details, or explain it properly because it might compromise national security. So just believe us. Have we ever lied to you?

Free-Market Analysis: The US government is at it again. While the entire world is aware now that Bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALS on May 1, 2011, evidence corroborating the killing has never been released. Everyone should take it on faith, but unfortunately, the US government doesn't have a very good track record these days when it comes to telling the truth. Bin Laden's death has only added to suspicion and confusion. Here are some issues regarding his passing that have surfaced and resurfaced …

Supposedly, top government officials including Hillary Clinton watched the raid on bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. But later that turned out not to be true, or not entirely. Hillary Clinton had her hand over her mouth in an important photo that was released, but later on she said it wasn't because she was watching bin Laden being shot but because she was stifling a sneeze.

DNA was said to have been extracted from Bin Laden after he was shot, but now it turns out there is some confusion about whether it was or wasn't. A DNA test was supposed to have been performed, but now there is some confusion about that, too.

Bin Laden is said to have fought back when confronted by Navy SEALS. But later it was said that his wife was the confronter, and that she had been shot. Then it turned out that maybe she hadn't been shot. Pakistan never turned her over to the US. Now she may be in Saudi Arabia.

Bin Laden's body was dropped out at sea, which is in accordance with Muslim practices. But now it turns out that dropping a body into the middle of the ocean may not be standard practice, even for Islam. Or at least there are conflicting reports on the 'Net.

There were death photos of bin Laden on the Internet, and they were circulated widely. But after an unusual time lag, US officials admitted they were photo-shopped and warned the government and Pentagon had nothing to do with them.

There are eyewitnesses to the bin Laden raid that contradict almost everything the US has said about the famous raid and bin Laden's death. Strangely, not a single mainstream Western media source has contacted the eyewitnesses for their side of the story. You can see an article about what the eyewitnesses said here: Eye Witness Tells Different Story of Bin Laden Death.

Most puzzlingly, bin Laden is said to have died at least two times prior to May 1. Fox news announced his death in 2001 and you can watch a video from Benazir Bhutto explaining to David Frost that Osama bin Laden was murdered in the early 2000s. (Watch video here.)

Bin Laden was said to suffer from Marfan's disease, which affects the kidneys. He was said to need regular dialysis in the late 1990s and even went to a French hospital for treatment. The idea that he would have been healthy enough to confront Navy SEALS in his pajamas some 10 years later is a puzzling one.

Of course, the US government – and specifically the Obama administration – could put to rest any doubt about the killing simply by releasing photos (confirmed ones) along with DNA evidence, etc. They could even let a Navy SEAL talk, one presumably who had been on the mission.

Which brings us to another point, the downing of a helicopter with the Navy SEAL Team 6 onboard. These were SEALS that had supposedly killed bin Laden and conspiracy theorists are having a field day with this coincidental tragedy.

In fact, the Internet is filled with denunciations of the deaths and accusations that the SEALS were actually done away with by the US government to prevent them from speaking out and to serve as a warning to others to keep quiet. Here's just one sample, a feedback we found on the ATLAH news network:

The 22 special forces / Seals that were involved in the HOAX that was presented to the people of America as "the capture and murder of Osama bin Laden"… were onboard this aircraft that was sent out on a false flag "set-up", and were erased…. shot up so badly that even the body remains could not be separated out and identified.

Those 22 men KNEW what the REAL story relative to the HOAX was. Doesn't anybody find this scenario highly suspicious? Now the United States Congress is trying to lock down, once and for all, any further hint of question about the event with a new bill, HR 2819. The bill prohibits any "officer or employee of the Federal Government from providing information about the mission to kill Osama bin Laden to any person outside the Federal Government…" This essentially silences anyone who might be able to shed ANY light on the event. Doesn't ANYBODY "see" what is being done?

If the Obama administration would just release SOME corroborating evidence about the bin Laden killing, many of the suspicions that people have about it would go away. But instead, the administration is moving in the other direction, attempting to choke off any further information that would confirm the death. Why? Here's some more from the Politico article excerpted at the beginning of this analysis

The new filings from the Justice Department provide scant details about the imagery, but CIA National Clandestine Service Director John Bennett wrote that the CIA has "52 unique… photographs and/or videorecordings" depicting bin Laden during or after the May operation. Bennett did not break down the tally further, but said all the imagery is classified "TOP SECRET," meaning that disclosure of the material could lead to "exceptionally grave damage" to U.S. national security.

"All of the responsive records are the product of a highly sensitive, overseas operation that was conducted under the direction of the CIA," Bennett wrote, arguing that disclosure of the information would reveal "intelligence activities and/or methods." He called the photos "gruesome," and said they depict the gunshot wound to bin Laden's head. It is unclear whether his descriptions referred to all the images and videos, or just some of them.

The motion for summary judgment and supporting declarations ask U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg to rule for the government in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought in May by Judicial Watch. The conservative watchdog group sued the Defense Department after it failed to comply with the group's request for the bin Laden imagery. The suit was broadened in June to name the CIA as a defendant.

President Obama is on record as saying that photos of bin Laden would be released. But now it turns out that the government has no intention of releasing any photos at all. In fact, from what we can tell, the government actually may NOT have ANY photos of the death scene. At least that's what the Politico article seems to imply, as follows:

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 possession 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 CIA, Pentagon fight to keep Osama bin Laden death photos secret …

The operative sentence here (one Politico seems to gloss over) is that the Defense Department found no imagery "responsive" to the requests. It could be the administration is making a legal fight on general principles even though it does not have the photos that are being sought. But why weren't photos taken then? And if that is the case, why doesn't the government simply admit it?

After Thoughts

In the Internet era, governments can't simply hunker down and keep information to themselves. There are too many ways to get at what's been hidden, and even if information stays hidden, speculation can be rampant in blogs and within discussion groups. US government officials are probably doing yet more damage to their credibility by fighting to retain photos of bin Laden's death. President Obama indicated at one point that such photos would be released. Their dissemination would do a good deal to damp suspicions and establish the reality of bin Laden's demise.