Photos and videos taken of the late terrorist leader Osama bin Laden during and after the raid that killed him will not be released, after a federal judge denied a request for their release on Thursday.
U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg rejected a lawsuit filed by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch to have the images released. The judge wrote the following in his decision: “The court declines plaintiff’s invitation to substitute its own judgment about the national-security risks inherent in releasing these records for that of the executive-branch officials who determined that they should be classified.”
According to Boasberg, the CIA withheld 52 responsive records, citing exemptions for classified materials and information exempted by other laws. Judicial Watch sued both the CIA and the Department of Defense, after being told that they will not be able to process the Freedom of Information Act within the time limit allotted by law. Both the CIA and the DoD were able to process the requests after the lawsuit was filed.
Judge Boasberg, an appointee of President Barack Obama, wrote further: “A picture may be worth a thousand words. And perhaps moving pictures bear an even higher value… Yet, in this case, verbal descriptions of the death and burial of Osama Bin Laden will have to suffice, for this court will not order the release of anything more.”
According to court papers, images of the late Osama bin Laden have been classified in order to “avoid inciting violence against Americans overseas and compromising secret systems and techniques used by the CIA and the military.”