The Osama Bin Laden death photos may be released to the public after all. The CIA has over 52 photos of a dead Osama Bin Laden, according to ABC News. Some of the photos are quite graphic, as they depict the fatal bullet wound to [Osama Bin Laden's] head and other similarly gruesome images of his corpse, John Bennett, director of the National Clandestine Service of the CIA told ABC.
Osama Bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011, by the U.S. Special Forces unit SEAL Team Six, after the CIA obtained DNA evidence of Osama Bin Laden living there by working with an undercover doctor in the months leading up to the raid. The team raided his complex, killing Bin Laden with a shot to his head. From there, his body was taken to Afghanistan to be identified, and then buried at sea less than 24 hours later, in keeping with the Muslim tradition.
The CIA initially rejected the notion of distributing the death photos of Osama Bin Laden, saying showing the death photos could trigger violence, attacks, or acts of revenge against the United States, and as such, would not have to be released through the Freedom of Information Act. Judicial Watch, an organization that describes itself as a conservative, non-partisan American educational foundation that promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law, filed a lawsuit, and now it seems the Justice Department may order the CIA to release the death photos.
In the months leading up to the raid, the CIA worked with a doctor, Shakeel Afridi, in Osama's Abbottabad compound, NPR reported. Under the guise of administering vaccinations, the doctor obtained DNA samples of people living at the compound in an effort to ensure that Osama Bin Laden was actually there. Afridi is being held in Pakistan on treason charges. Saheed Shah told NPR that Afridi was most likely unaware he was working for the United States.
I think it's pretty likely that when he was recruited, he would have been recruited by Pakistanis, who in turn may have been working with other Pakistanis who eventually were working for American CIA operatives, Shah told NPR. So he probably didn't know that he was working for the CIA and what its repercussions would be.
The potential release of the photos could be because of oversight by the government in classifying them.
If you look closely at one small segment of the government's brief, it, in effect, concedes that there are reasonably segregable, nonexempt portions of the records that are legally required to be disclosed, Dan Metcalfe, the former director of the Justice Department's Office of Information and Privacy told The Atlantic Wire. He said that while not all 52 death photos will be released, there is a strong possibility that some of them will.
Metcalfe told The Atlantic Wire that the Department of Justice did not distinguish between which of the 52 death photos are sensitive and which are not. Under subsection b of the FOIA, the government is required to disclose all parts of the requested information that can be reasonably segregated from the sensitive information. The exemption was added in the 1970s to prevent the government from broadly classifying information in large chunks without having to determine what could reasonably be disclosed, The Atlantic Wire reported.
[The government] tellingly does not claim that even every such image of bin Laden, in and of itself, would cause the envisioned harm if disclosed, Metcalfe said. On a logical continuum, some of them, such as images that the government admits show a 'dignified' burial at sea, must be relatively nonsensitive in nature. Judicial Watch has until Feb. 8 to respond to the Justice Department's arguments.