Government Could be Forced to Release Osama bin Laden Photos

An activist group has filed a lawsuit demanding the release of the death photos of Osama bin Laden, and a former Justice Department official thinks the government might have to release at least some of them.

The group Judicial Watch filed the suit, and in a response to it last week, the Justice Department argued that the 52 files are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

But Dan Metcalfe, the former director of the department's Office of Information and Privacy, has read the response, and he told The Atlantic Wire that even the department admits some of the images may not be exempt.

“If you look closely at one small segment of the government's brief, it in effect concedes that there are reasonably segregable, non-exempt portions of the records that are legally required to be disclosed," Metcalfe said.

Metcalfe said any images that could harm national security would likely be exempt, but there are some photos -- and perhaps video -- that could be deemed not a threat to national security, and thus might have to be release.

However the White House said it has not changed its position that the photos should never be released. Asked about it on Tuesday, spokesman Jay Carney said he had not seen The Atlantic Wire story, but, "The President’s position on the release of images of Osama bin Laden, in particular, was very clearly stated at the time and has not changed.  I would have to either refer you to the Defense Department on the broader question of other photos that may exist, and I can take that question as well."


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