This week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in the case regarding the release of 52 photos, some of which depict Osama bin Laden dead. The case stems from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request made by the conservative group Judicial Watch. The group is appealing the decision of a U.S. District court, which ruled that the images could harm national security.
Judicial Watch argued that the U.S. government has failed to provide sufficient evidence that the photos should be kept secret. From the group’s brief:
Specifically, Defendants have failed to provide any evidence that all 52 images, including those depicting bin Laden’s burial at sea, pertain to “foreign activities of the United States.” Defendants also have failed to provide any evidence that images depicting the burial at sea actually pertain to “intelligence activities.” Nor have they demonstrated that the release of images of a somber, dignified burial at sea reasonably could be expected to cause identifiable or describable exceptionally grave damage to national security.
According to a CNN report on the hearing, the U.S. Justice department argued that there are obvious “sensitivities” surrounding the death of bin Laden, and that releasing the photos could end up provoking violence against Americans abroad.
The appellate judges did not announce when their final ruling would be made.
(Image courtesy the U.S. Federal Government via Wikimedia Commons)