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Federal Court Denies Request for bin Laden Raid Video

U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg cited national security concerns

A federal judge has ruled the video and photographs of the U.S. military raid in which al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed will remain concealed from the public.

On April 26, 2012, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg—who sits on the Court for the District of Columbia—ruled in the case Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Defense (1:11-cv-890) that there are national security reasons to deny disclosure of photos and video of the raid that occurred May 2, 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Within a week of the raid, President Barack Obama said photos and video of the action would not be made public.

Judicial Watch, which describes itself as a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation that promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, has been seeking the photographs and video of the raid—conducted by Navy SEALS—immediately after the operation was made public.

Judicial Watch—which filed a Freedom of Information request for the material, including photos and video of the dead bin Laden—argued that the Obama administration’s “unlawful withholding of requested records” has “irreparably harmed” the group.

However, Boasberg said, While “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.”

Nonetheless, Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch says the American people have a right to know about the killing of bin Laden. “Incredibly, the Obama administration told us that it has no plans to comply with the Freedom of Information law, so we must now go to court,” he said, adding Obama’s claim of not wanting to “spike the football” on the death of bin Laden “is not a lawful basis for withholding government documents.”