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AP Files FOIA Request For Bin Laden Photos 518

Posted by samzenpus
from the gory-details dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Atlantic reports that President Obama's decision to withhold the visual evidence of Osama bin Laden's death has created a fundamental disagreement between the White House and the Associated Press, one of the largest journalism organizations in the world, prompting the news organization to file a Freedom of Information Act request for the bin Laden photos. 'This information is important for the historical record,' says Michael Oreskes, senior managing editor at The Associated Press. 'That's our view.' AP's FOIA request includes a reminder of the president's campaign pledge and a plea to be more transparent than his predecessor. 'The Obama White House pledged to be the most transparent government in US history,' writes the AP, 'and to comply much more closely with the Freedom of Information Act than the Bush administration did.' The AP isn't alone in wanting more insight on the specifics of the raid. When it eventually surfaced that bin Laden was not killed in a firefight, his wife wasn't used as a human shield, there was no live footage of the event and the 'mansion' where he lived was only worth between $250,000 and $480,000, many became skeptical of the White House's narrative. Other organizations that have filed FOIAs include Politico, Fox News, Judicial Watch and Citizens United. Oreskes sympathizes with the president. 'This is obviously one of his most difficult decisions and we understand that.'"
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AP Files FOIA Request For Bin Laden Photos

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  • stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @07:38PM (#36100776)

    No good will come of releasing the pix.

    Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by x*yy*x (2058140)
      And exactly why not release them? You mean not good will come for US if, for example, it turns out they just killed him for the sake of it? That's some double morality right there.
      • Re:stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @08:09PM (#36101046) Homepage Journal

        Actually, you have something of a point there. From my point of view, Binny Boy needed killing, no matter what. If he had waved a white flag, and crawled out of the compound praising America, and kissed every Seal's ass in sight, he still needed killing. I don't care if it was an ordered assasination, or he went down fighting. It just makes no difference.

        But, IF - and I stress IF - Binny was shot down like a rabid dog, then the US should have announced it in just those terms. There's no need to pull punches, gloss over the truth, or to sugar coat it. Just tell the world, "We killed the bastard, end of story!"

        • I agree.

          Shooting him like a rabid dog would make the Pres look even better to me.

          I'd rather assassinate every tin-horn dictator and violent religious zealot on the planet than blow the leg off one innocent child.

          • In case my post was unclear, innocent children die when a war rages in their neighborhood. I like surgical assassinations more than full-scale war.

            • Re:stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

              by captain_sweatpants (1997280) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @09:30PM (#36101814)
              I agree with you about surgical strikes on corrupt leaders. However in this case there was no need for the assassination. Bin Laden could have been captured and put on trial. They could have done it in Texas so he'd be killed afterwards anyway. This would have actually been great PR for the west to show that we are actually serious about being nations of laws and due process. It would have also shown Bin Laden to be the pathetic hateful little man he really is and probably convinced some of the more marginal extremist people in the world they are heading down the wrong path. Instead this event will harden those same people because they will see it as proof Americans are hypocrites that, when it suits them, just do whatever the hell they want
              • Re:stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

                by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @10:30PM (#36102212) Homepage Journal

                I've been thinking about his a lot. There is a lot of issues that need to be thought about.

                1) If in custody, I would wager al quaida would make at least one attempt to get him back, and hen could mean taking a shit load of hostages.
                2) In custody he becomes a rallying point.
                3) He would be a global political nightmare.
                4) and several other i probably don't need to list.

                OTOH, isn't a free nation of laws suppose to hold the law above all risks?

                I really don't know. I will be mulling over it for a long time. I mean, emotional I was glad. But we need rational at time like these.
                " It would have also shown Bin Laden to be the pathetic hateful little man he really is and probably convinced some of the more marginal extremist people in the world they are heading down the wrong path"
                I think that is incredibly naive. He would be a rallying point.

                • by swillden (191260)

                  OTOH, isn't a free nation of laws suppose to hold the law above all risks?

                  That would be nice, wouldn't it? But given that we often ignore inconvenient laws, it's not very surprising that in a case like this where following the law is risky, we decided to embrace expediency. I wish we were a country that would at least have agonized over it a little, and maybe felt obligated to come up with justifications. But we're not.

                • by Dutch Gun (899105)

                  OTOH, isn't a free nation of laws suppose to hold the law above all risks?

                  What law did we break? I'm not trying to be snarky (no tilde, see?). I'm just not sure any laws were broken, other than perhaps Pakistani law. And there are even stories circulating now that we had some backroom deals to handle this sort of issue with Pakistan.

                • Re:stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by shermo (1284310) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @11:46PM (#36102690)

                  It's really a question of morals versus convenience isn't it? Yeah, capturing OBL would have been much more difficult than killing him, and I'm sure killing him wasn't an easy task. But isn't there a great quote somewhere about doing what is right instead of what is easy?

                  In killing OBL America has moved further away from the moral high ground that it once prided itself on.

              • Re:stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

                by bored (40072) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @04:50AM (#36104020)

                It would have also shown Bin Laden to be the pathetic hateful little man he really is and probably convinced some of the more marginal extremist people in the world they are heading down the wrong path. Instead this event will harden those same people because they will see it as proof Americans are hypocrites that, when it suits them, just do whatever the hell they want

                He may have been hateful, and maybe even pathetic, but little he was not (actually and figuratively). I urge you to find a good English translation of some of the tapes OBL released (you know the ones the news agencies wouldn't play?). While it may be fairly easy to ignore his message, what I think you will discover is that OBL could speak clearly, and his messages weren't the ramblings of a madman. Frankly, compared with the "they hate us for our way of life" BS coming from some of our politicians, I have to wonder if our politicians even watched the tapes.

                That said, your right, the fact that we violated a half dozen international laws to assassinate someone who was the leader of a criminal organization rather than just arrest him, will reinforce the viewpoints held by a growing minority of people in the world. Especially, as more and more hard evidence comes out that he was actually unarmed, in bed with his wife.

                The obvious danger of putting him on trial, is that the proceedings end up on live CNN and a significant number of people in the US discover the impedance mismatch between what he says, and what our politicians have been saying. Or it becomes a historical record like the Colin Powell speech. With him dead, the historical record can be easily controlled.

        • by drsmithy (35869)

          But, IF - and I stress IF - Binny was shot down like a rabid dog, then the US should have announced it in just those terms. There's no need to pull punches, gloss over the truth, or to sugar coat it. Just tell the world, "We killed the bastard, end of story!"

          A snatch & grab "gone wrong" - especially on someone else's sovereign territory - is easier to justify diplomatically and legally, than a hit squad.

        • by DarthVain (724186)

          Odds are he would have had a trial and then been killed anyway. Even if he didn't resist (which he probably did knowing the most certain outcome), likely it did pass the execs minds that having a trial and drawing it out could just make it dangerous terroristwise. Best if he just got shot in the raid. Not saying that is what happened, but I bet orders official or not were probably leaning in that direction.

          Personally I think (and have been disgusted with the media and governments over the years), not a big

      • by peragrin (659227)

        a picture would incite those who don't believe he is dead to do violence beyond of which they were going to try to do anyways.

        Nothing good can come of releasing the photos.

        • "...and the truth will set you free"?

          I mean, besides being taken up and distorted into a sort of a motto by CIA. [yang.id.au]

        • You're missing the point. Obama released his long form birth certificate. There has to be something else now to latch on to. Bin Laden's kill photos are the obvious choice. What else is the media supposed to talk about with everything else going so well in America?
        • Re:stupid (Score:4, Interesting)

          by revscat (35618) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @08:52PM (#36101512) Journal

          I refuse to live in fear of nebulous enemies. Show the photos.

          • by EdIII (1114411)

            I refuse to live in fear as well. That's why when so many of my rights get taken away in this whole "lions, tigers, and bears, OH MY" bullshit that "terrorizers" caused I get hugely upset.

            My view is really really really simple. Two Options:

            1) You take away my Constitutional Rights because we leave in fear and need the Government to protect us. Government needs to bypass or abridge my rights to provide me the peace, prosperity, and protection that my fear makes me agree to quite unfavorable terms under th

    • You're essentially saying the government should hide information about news events for whimsical reasons.

      If there's no national security secrets in the photos, they should be released. Then the people will decide whether any good has or hasn't come from releasing them. (And if there are secrets in the photos, crop the secrets out and release the rest.)

      Not releasing the photos is yet another example of the paternalistic, elitist attitude of the Obama Administration. This time, they think they should decid

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by xevioso (598654)
        The idea that the photos can be used by those who hate us to drum up support (i.e., LOOK what they did to Bin Laden!) for additional attacks on innocent people is not whimsical. A picture is worth a thousand words. You may not wish to believe it, but it is so.
        • The idea that the photos can be used by those who hate us to drum up support (i.e., LOOK what they did to Bin Laden!) for additional attacks on innocent people is not whimsical. A picture is worth a thousand words. You may not wish to believe it, but it is so.

          I mean, other Sesame Street characters need their 15 minutes in the political spotlight. Not just Bert [ucsb.edu] and Elmo. [wonkette.com]

          My money is on Oscar.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      The point is that everything in the official US press release was false. Why? The world will begin wondering about the circumstances. If their first account was false, how many other times will they lie to us about it? Why wouldn't they release the photos, if not as part of a cover-up?

      How do we even know he is dead? The proven liars have said they verified it themselves, then destroyed the body without allowing anyone else to access it. Would it have hurt to have MI-6 or others access to the body for
    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      I do understand the government's side.

      I assume photos exist, or it really doesn't matter.

      If we do release the photos immediately...

      Part of the American public will be happy.

      Part will be outraged. By American law, he has the right to due process. That should not be ignored regardless of the crimes.

      Part will think it's just morbid to celebrate the death of anyone, and gratuitous violent pictures are not necessary.

      Isl

  • by Local ID10T (790134) <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @07:39PM (#36100784) Homepage

    Per Obama's original statement, the photos are not being released because the administration felt that they could be used to incite acts of revenge (terrorism) against the USA.

    Sounds like a simple: "Request denied for national security reasons" answer is to be expected.

    • by decora (1710862) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @07:44PM (#36100840) Journal

      every other damn detail about the damn mission including

      1. the fact that a courier led them to his house
      2. the CIA ahd been watching him
      3. the helicopters are specially modified
      4. they use hyperspectral imagers
      5. the seal team was navy seal team six
      6. they have given away the identities of some of the team member
      7. they gave away the identity of the dog that was involved?????
      8. they gave away details about NSA involvement in SIGINT

      etc etc etc

      Obama's staff is the "senior officials on condition of anonymity".

      none of them gave a shit about national security when it made their man look good on TV.

      but Obama has several whistleblowers &c. under prosecution right now for violation Espionage law (Drake, Sterling, Kim) for information far less important.

      it makes no goddamn sense, at all. Obama needs to comply with FOIA law and stop pretending he is the fucking emperor who can decide willy nilly about state security

      • by Smidge204 (605297) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @07:51PM (#36100906) Journal

        None of the things you listed can be put onto a poster and waved around during an angry protest. You can't martyr specially modified helicopters or the dog. At least try understand that much.

        On the other hand, releasing the photo(s) will do nothing to stop the people who insist it's all a fraud from insisting it's a fraud. It will not convince anyone who isn't already satisfied with the reports.

        If you can think of any positive result that can come from releasing them at this time, please share because I'm at a loss.
        =Smidge=

        • by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @07:55PM (#36100930)

          If you can think of any positive result that can come from releasing them at this time, please share because I'm at a loss.

          Satisfaction at seeing the hated person bloodied up, I guess? Let's call it a Colosseum-Complex.

          • by xevioso (598654)
            Did you not get satisfaction at the videos of him watching TV? Watching the outtakes with the sound removed, knowing that he was dead? Why must you see the blood? BTW, there are pics online taken by the Pakistanis who came in afterwards of his couriers lying on the ground dead. Quite graphic. Not good enough for you?
          • by peragrin (659227)

            If a photo produces satisfaction then you must only sit in your parents basement and download porn instead of making some yourself.

          • by Ash Vince (602485)

            If you can think of any positive result that can come from releasing them at this time, please share because I'm at a loss.

            Satisfaction at seeing the hated person bloodied up, I guess? Let's call it a Colosseum-Complex.

            This does not help the rest of the worlds image of Americans though. I found the pictures of you all cheering at someones death kind of disturbing. I am very glad he was shot (captured would have been fine too though) but I just find the idea of cheering at someone else's death distasteful.

        • None of the things you listed can be put onto a poster and waved around during an angry protest.

          But most of them sound great on the campaign trail.

        • Well, if the photos were to show something controversial, like evidence that he was shot in the back or executed point-blank, I think that exposing that (not that that would ever happen) would be a positive effect in and of itself.
      • by Sloppy (14984)

        "I'm bombing the ammunition depot at Daquiri tomorrow morning. We're coming in from the North, under their radar."

        "When will you be back?"

        "I can't tell you. Classified."

      • 1. No shit. All breaks start with following people around.
        2. Ya think?????
        3. That wasn't released by the White House. That was picked up by looking at pictures coming from third parties.
        4. Umm. ya think they use the latest available toys? FYI, kids on the street in Baghdad thought that the sunglasses of army grunts where "hyper-spectral imagers".
        5. What difference does that make? Just adds flavor.
        6. Source please. Unless you think publicly available info about where they're stationed is the same as giving a

      • by xigxag (167441)

        "Obama needs to comply with FOIA law"

        In this instance, the administration is fully compliant with FOIA since it contains an exemption for national defense.

        "and stop pretending he is the fucking emperor who can decide willy nilly about state security."

        Deciding matters of national security is what was elected for. Stop pretending that Obama is somehow doing something egregious, it's a totally ahistorical perspective. Perhaps somewhere on this earth is a nation where there are no secrets and everything is up

    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @08:12PM (#36101096)

      And sometimes, those requests are denied for a good reason. This is one of them. As others pointed out, the benefit of releasing them is exactly zero. Tinfoil hatters will still cook up a hoax. Besides, Al Quaeda confirmed bin laden is dead.

      What would the pictures tell you that you don't already know? That he was killed by three bullets, instead of two? That the bullets used were NATO spec, not US MIL spec? That he prefers his clothes in hot pink? That he bleeds red?

      I still don't understand why everyone wants to see the pictures. No, "Because I want to" is not a good reason.

      • by epyT-R (613989) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @09:15PM (#36101704)

        I still don't understand why everyone wants to see the pictures. No, "Because I want to" is not a good reason.

        because they should be part of the public record of the event.

        No, "Because I want to" is not a good reason.

        neither is you being squeamish a reason to censor the truth of what happens in war from those whom a war is being fought in their name.

  • Transparent... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @07:39PM (#36100786)

    This administration has been at least as opaque if not worse than the last administration.

    The Obama White House cuts off access to news agencies that are critical of the Administration, the Press Secretary mocks questions and there are as many off the book meetings as the Bush administration was criticized for.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xeranar (2029624)
      I'm calling bull shit on that. This administration makes attempts to be moderately open compared to the last several Republican administrations. Reagan committed an act of treason in the arms sales. Bush hid numerous documents including the total lack of WMDs in Iraq. The idea that they're somehow some shadow organization is bull. The problem was he made statements that in our current political climate of wanting to know the people and not the issues were hard to actually do. If people focused on the
    • Here's a citation to help: http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/transparency-obama-denies-significantly-more-foia-requests-bush [washingtonexaminer.com]

      A Google search [google.com] provides other locations.

      I wouldn't count on anything coming out.
    • The Obama White House cuts off access to news agencies that are critical of the Administration

      Like which ones? The only one I was aware of was the "news" agency that blatantly makes up it's own "news", and went to court in order to win the right to lie in it's "news"casts.

  • Altruistic Press (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pjh3000 (583652) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @07:41PM (#36100806)
    Of course it's got nothing to do with making bucket loads of money from exploiting the photos. They are the Altruistic Press after all.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The president can just make this classified, and decide to make it unclassified in the future. The president's assertion that the images might inflame tensions and lead to lost lives is a valid one, an idea that the AP doesn't care about. So make the images classified for a specific period of time, and move on.
  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @07:45PM (#36100848) Journal
    ... and living in a tropical island climate. With daily water boardings for entertainment.

    OTOH, I wouldn't be surprised if the death photos show up closer to (re)election time, if the administration thinks it will help the campaign.
  • Was he captured (Score:4, Interesting)

    by failedlogic (627314) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @07:50PM (#36100896)

    I have a lingering thought though that he might have been captured alive and not killed.

    Personally, I don't really care what happened to Bin Laden. I hope he's dead but I'm not going to dwell on the conspiracies. I only think that the USA took care of him in a way they saw fit.

    But, there's been pictures of the dead infamous throughout history killers, dictators, criminals, war lords, blah blah I think they weren't concerned with releasing photos of Saddam dead. Though there could have equally been 'security' concerns over that one too.

    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      An interesting theory, and one I hadn't considered, but I'd hesitate to accept it unless there's some evidence beyond "It could have happened". If they were lying about his death (and in that case, presumably, going so far as to make the "He was armed. Oh, wait, no he wasn't." claims as a double bluff) I don't see why they wouldn't have faked a photo - it's absence doesn't give any direct credibility to the theory he's alive, IMO.

    • by peragrin (659227)

      The thing is the only body US troops took out of the compound was Bin Laden's. Every other survivor, was left behind for the pakistani's. They are the ones saying yes Bin Laden was present, and yes he was dragged out with holes in his head.

  • I don't know that there has been a time prior to this when Fox News acknowledged that the Associated Press had good ideas - or even existed. Now they are joining forces?

    Of course, we all know what they really want out of this, and it doesn't come down to "the truth".
  • Not too difficult (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Haedrian (1676506) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @08:06PM (#36101030)

    "pledged to be the most transparent government in US history"

    Failing this is just like losing a game on the tutorial level

  • by black6host (469985) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @08:18PM (#36101156)

    If there was no live footage, it would have been a calculated decision, IMHO. Perhaps based on the fallout anticipated from AP, next of kin, the rest of the world or whatever. Either that, or there was live footage, I myself wonder what Hillary Clinton was so upset about as she covered her mouth. If that's the case then we have the denial of such video. At least at this point. 50 years down the road disclosure might be different.

    Those more knowledgeable perhaps can chime in as to whether or not an operation is typically recorded on video. (I do understand, this was not your "typical" operation.)

  • by BlueCoder (223005) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @08:31PM (#36101290)

    The facts of the raid possibly are relevant but that could easily be a "national security matter" although I would call it a trade secret.

    You have to prove to me the relevancy of releasing this dead mans photo. I think it would be bad taste no matter who he was. Photos of the dead have long been thought to be desecration.

    What I think the AP could pursue is getting interviews of people involved and facts reveled in private under confidentiality for historical release later. Something like this should remain private no more than ten years.

  • by Paska (801395) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @09:18PM (#36101732) Homepage

    The America Government isn't scared about any threats that releasing these photos may attract from foreign threats.

    Your Government is scared of setting a precedent of being a truly open republic that allows the citizens to open their minds and come to their own conclusions.

    Those in power would rather make the public live in fear thinking that your Government is doing anything, and everything in it's power to protect your borders when in reality it's stripping away your freedoms that you've fought so hard to establish.

    American citizens need to wake up to the truth. The Government thinks it's own citizens are the threat, and you don't need to look too far to confirm this behaviour with the wire tapping, surveillance, border security, fear mongering and public deceit.

    Wake up America. The world is getting sick of watching your own Government surpress everything that your constitution stands for.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @09:37PM (#36101856) Homepage Journal
    There there's isn't really a "head" left past the chin. They said they shot him once in the head, they didn't say how big the gun was.
  • by MoFoQ (584566) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @09:48PM (#36101948)

    only worth between $250,000 and $480,000

    dude...in pakistan...that's like Hugh Hufner's mansion.

    According to wiki, the minimum wage in pakistan is roughly ~US$ $82.4 per month. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimum_wage_law#Pakistan)
    To put that into perspective....between roughly 253 years to 485 years or if u use the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, 250 years to 480 years.

    Pakistan's GNI is $1000 while the US is $46,360.

    more info:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNI_per_capita [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/south-asia/pakistans-per-capita-income-rises-to-1027_10050970.html [thaindian.com]

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday May 11, 2011 @10:48PM (#36102330)
    Lets just get this out in the open: Obama ordered the execution of the guy.
    The seals went in, took him unarmed, knelt him down in front of his family and shot him execution style in the head.
    The reports from both the administration and the family members after the fact pretty much confirm this but the press have gone so far out of their way to dilute the facts it's almost silly.

    If they release the photos, forensic analysts will look at them and immediately say: "That was at point blank range with a pistol from an elevated position" and the idea that somehow democrats are less evil than republicans will be ruined. This is what our government does. Accept it or stop voting for the 2 party system. They aren't even trying very hard to cover this up and it seems the majority of the country is just going right along with it.

    I didn't want the guy to get away... but we are a nation of laws. We could have easily taken him alive and tried him and eventually executed him. It would have been a legal nightmare, it would have likely ended up in front of the supreme court. But it's what's just and what's right.
    • by hedwards (940851) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @12:19AM (#36102878)

      I'm going to have to call bullshit on that. Despite what you might see on NCIS, you cannot tell all of that from a photo of a dead man. You need a lot more forensic evidence than that to determine that the individual was shot from an elevate position rather than just coincidentally with a similar angle. Even just a simple angle, is really tough to tell just by looking at a photo without having several more with which to compare it.

      Yes, there was an incredibly high barrier to him surrendering, but unless you've got actual evidence to support the accusation, you really shouldn't be spreading conspiracy theories.

    • The seals went in, took him unarmed, knelt him down in front of his family and shot him execution style in the head.
      The reports from both the administration and the family members after the fact pretty much confirm this but the press have gone so far out of their way to dilute the facts it's almost silly.

      I haven't read this anywhere. Citation? I'm not saying you're making it up, or that I'd even doubt it, but you're claiming that 'reports' are saying one thing and 'press' have said another, which seems a

  • by mr100percent (57156) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @08:42AM (#36105180) Homepage Journal

    Scott Horton finds middle ground [harpers.org]:

    There is no reason why they need to be made public today, this month, or even this year. But the materials should be preserved carefully and passed to an archive. In good time they should be available to those who chronicle these events, so they can do so with a keen and impartial eye. The death of bin Laden marks the end of an era. This should not be marked with lies and secrecy; it should be marked with a strengthened commitment to acknowledge the truth, unpleasant as it may be in certain details. The passage of some time may be necessary, but in the end a democracy is nourished, not demoralized, when it looks the truth unflinchingly in the face.

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik

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