Media & Communications Law

DOJ Defends Keeping Osama bin Laden Death Photos Secret


Citing the safety of Americans and the likelihood of retaliatory attacks, a U.S. Justice Department lawyer on Thursday urged a federal appeals court to allow images of the body of Osama bin Laden to be shielded from public view.

The prediction about harm to Americans isn’t “mere conjecture,” Robert Loeb of the DOJ’s Civil Division, told a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, according to The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.

At issue are 52 CIA images of bin Laden, who was killed in May 2011 during a U.S. raid in Pakistan. Judicial Watch, which sued to view the images after filing a Freedom of Information Act request, is appealing a lower court ruling in favor of the CIA, which cited national security reasons for blocking publication of the images.

But Judicial Watch’s Michael Bekesha argued Thursday that the government hasn’t specifically demonstrated how releasing the images will harm national security or reveal secret information.

The BLT notes that the case is among several high-profile public records disputes before the court, including one involving information about drone strikes.

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