Supreme Court Considers Whether to Take Up bin Laden Images Controversy
Obama Administration Asks High Court to Uphold Secrecy on bin Laden Death Images
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has filed a reply brief with the United States Supreme Court in opposition to the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) request to deny a petition for a writ of certiorari in the continuing legal battle over the post-mortem images of slain terrorist Osama bin Laden. The reply brief was filed on December 3 in response to an opposition brief filed by the DOD and CIA on November 21.
The Obama administration’s opposition brief came after Judicial Watch filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court in August appealing a 2013 Appellate Court decision in favor of the two executive branch agencies (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Dept. of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency). The case stems from Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits filed against the DOD and CIA in May 2011 seeking “all photographs and/or video recordings of Osama (Usama) bin Laden taken during and/or after the U.S. military operation in Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011.” In its brief the administration argues that the Court should not grant certiorari because the information was properly withheld under the “Top Secret” classification of FOIA Exemption 1.
In its reply brief filed with the Supreme Court, Judicial Watch argues:
The Executive Branch … argues that the Court, like the courts below, should simply ignore the explicit intentions of Congress as well as the plain language of FOIA and “rubber stamp” the Executive Branch’s withholding of the requested images because the process was, and the justifications are, “good enough. That is not the law. Nor should it be.”
The Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to take this case before the end of the year.
“This is a pivotal case,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “In an unprecedented act of secrecy, the Obama administration is withholding basic information about the bin Laden raid because it might offend the terrorists. This president is breaking yet another promise – that ‘transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.’ To deny the public its right to know in order to appease terrorists is an affront to both transparency and the rule of law.”
To access all the briefs and other materials related to this case, click here.