Osama bin Laden, seen in this undated image taken from video provided by the U.S. Department of Defense.
(USA TODAY) -- Less than two weeks after the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, a
top Pentagon official ordered all photos of bin Laden's corpse be
destroyed or turned over to the CIA, according to a newly released
In an e-mail dated May 13, 2011, Adm. William McRaven,
the U.S. Special Operations commander, wrote: "One particular item that I
want to emphasize is photos; particularly UBLs remains. At this point -
all photos should have been turned over to the CIA; if you still have
them destroy them immediately or get them to the (redacted)."
after the raid in Pakistan, President Obama said he would not authorize
the release of any images of the al-Qaeda leader's body.
important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who
was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to
additional violence, as a propaganda tool," Obama told CBS news magazine
In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel
with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington echoed the Obama
administration's argument that release of the photos might inflame
anti-U.S. sentiment among Islamic radicals.
Days before the order
to destroy the photos, watchdog group Judicial Watch and the Associated
Press had separately filed a Freedom of Information Act request for
photos, videos and documents regarding bin Laden during the raid.
McRaven 'destroy them immediately' e-mail is a smoking gun, revealing
both contempt for the rule of law and the American's people right to
know," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "The Obama
administration has tried to cover this scandal up - and our lawsuit
exposed it. We demand further investigation of the effort to destroy
documents about the bin Laden raid."
Typically, when a Freedom of
Information Act request is filed to a government agency under the
Federal Records Act, the agency is obliged to preserve the material
sought - even if the agency later denies the request.
spokesman said at the time that "documents related to the raid were
handled in a manner consistent with the fact that the operation was
conducted under the direction of the CIA director."
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