SEPTEMBER 22, 2015
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking records of communications between the Office of the Secretary of State and the White House/Executive Office of the President following the capture and slaying of Osama bin Laden (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-01128)).
On May 1, 2011, President Obama announced that American personnel had killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and buried his body at sea. President Obama ordered the withholding of photos and video of the deceased bin Laden and his burial at sea, claiming it would be unwise to “spike the football” over bin Laden’s killing as it might be offensive to al Qaeda and other terrorists.
On May 9, 2011, Judicial Watch submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the State Department, seeking access to the records of communications from the day after the raid between the Office of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the White House/Executive Office of the President concerning the images related to bin Laden. Though the State Department acknowledged receipt of the request, it ignored the request for four years – until the lawsuit’s filing in July.
Judicial Watch also immediately requested these photos from the Defense Department and CIA and then, when denied them, sued in federal court. An appellate court upheld President Obama’s decision to withhold the records from American citizens because the records might offend terrorists.
Other Judicial Watch litigation forced the release of records showing a cover-up and the dangerous disclosure of classified information as the Obama administration sought to promote the raid to aid Obama’s reelection while at the same time withholding basic information about the raid from the American people. (Disclosures by Vice News on September 10 show that Judicial Watch’s work resulted in the exposure of even more corruption at the Obama CIA as the agency tried to promote the pro-Obama film for the White House.)
“Did Hillary Clinton agree with Obama’s efforts to suppress key information about the bin Laden raid?” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “One can fairly presume Hillary Clinton and the State Department have something to hide. Why else would they violate federal law to avoid disclosure?”
On May 22, 2012, Judicial Watch released CIA and the Department of Defense records detailing meetings with filmmakers Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow in preparation for the film on the bin Laden raid, Zero Dark Thirty. These documents showed that officials disclosed the identity of a SEAL Team Six Operator and Commander.
On December 10, 2013, Judicial Watch obtained more than 200 pages of documents from the CIA, including a report confirming that former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed classified information at a June 24, 2011, bin Laden assault awards ceremony attended by the filmmakers.
On January 31, 2014, Judicial Watch received documents from Defense Department revealing that within hours of Judicial Watch filing a May 13, 2011, FOIA lawsuit seeking photos of the deceased Osama bin Laden, U.S. Special Operations Commander, Admiral William McRaven ordered his subordinates to “destroy” any photos they may have had “immediately.” (Judicial Watch had filed a FOIA request for the photos 11 days earlier.) McRaven directed that the materials be transferred to the CIA, where they could be shielded from FOIA requests.