Pressure is mounting on the U.S. government to start exhibiting some of that “transparency” Barack Obama promised, by sharing information about the funeral aboard a U.S. ship for radical terrorist Osama bin Laden.
And it’s no longer a legitimate excuse to say that releasing the information would make other radical Muslim terrorists upset, according to a legal team that is challenging the Obama administration’s efforts to conceal details.
“The necessity of conducting the global war on terror should not render the U.S. government so afraid of its own shadow that it refuses to release truthful information to the American people when required by FOIA,” said attorneys with Judicial Watch in a new court filing.
“The Obama administration’s unprecedented stonewalling on basic information about the bin Laden operation makes a mockery of President Obama’s promises of transparency,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
“And the courts should not rubberstamp this continuing denial of the American people’s right to access government information. There is no provision of the Freedom of Information Act that allows documents to be kept secret because their release might offend our terrorist enemies,” he said.
The government watchdog organization said Thursday it has filed a motion against the Department of the Navy, challenging the decision to withhold information relating to “descriptions of the actual funeral and burial of bin Laden.”
The motion comes amidst the group’s fight for details held by the Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency. Judicial Watch also is seeking photographs and video recordings of bin Laden “taken during and/or after the U.S. military operation in Pakistan on or about May 1, 2011.”
The organization reported that in refusing to comply with the Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit, the Navy says releasing the information could harm national security by giving U.S. enemies information they could use against the military in the future.
The Navy also claims the information would incite Islamists to attack U.S. citizens.
But Judicial Watch said it “seeks only descriptions of the burial and funeral, and not any sensitive military information which could be used to thwart possible future military operation.”
Also, it said information cannot be withheld under guidelines from a recent court ruling that said simply saying the release would incite violence isn’t enough.
Judicial Watch filed the original FOIA lawsuit against the DOD and CIA on May 13, 2011. On April 26, 2012, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia blocked access to the materials requested in a decision that was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on May 21, 2013.
Questions about the bin Laden raid have been numerous. For example, a persistent critic of Obama claimed in a report that the president lied to the American public about the U.S. military raid in Pakistan in which bin Laden was killed, basing her allegations on evidence released by the U.S. government itself.
The report by Pamela Barnett, who was a plaintiff in legal cases challenging Obama’s constitutional eligibility, first was published by the Western Center for Journalism.
Critically important is one of the redacted military emails regarding the bin Laden death that references plans for a burial, dated April 29, 2011.
Under a subject line of “burial,” Samuel Perez, commander of Carrier Strike Group One, said, “Do I need any special religious/ceremonial preparations?”
But it was on May 1, 2011, that Obama announced to the world that the mission “today” had killed bin Laden.
“Obama lied to every American and the rest of the world about the date of the alleged Osama bin Laden killing,” Barnett charged in the report. “According to a live speech … given to the country late night on May 1, 2011, Obama stated, ‘Today at my direction the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound … in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.’”
Barnett said the “emails in my possession received directly from the Department of Defense as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request for Osama bin Laden’s killing and burial related documents, reveal that the mission to allegedly ‘kill Osama’ occurred April 28, 2011, or earlier, not May 1, 2011, as Obama claimed.”
Critics say Obama has withheld key details about the mission from the American public yet reportedly allowed classified details to be handed over to moviemakers.
Images of the bin Laden “burial at sea” have been withheld, and the administration hasn’t explained why only a handful of members of the military among the thousands aboard ship were allowed to witness the burial.
In a post at Breitbart.com, Fitton suggested the email evidence means “preparations for receipt of bin Laden’s body were considered three days before the raid, which as Catherine Herridge at Fox News notes, ‘raises an interesting question over whether the administration’s statement that it was first and foremost a capture mission was accurate.’”
Barnett, in an interview with WND, noted that Obama twice stated on May 1 that the bin Laden attack happened “today.”
And she has her own perspective on why the statement was made on that date.
“So why did Obama lie about the date that Osama was killed? Was it timed to further control the media by giving them a new, sexier story than a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals hearing the next morning in Pasadena, Calif., that confirmed that Obama’s real, unforged constitutional credentials had/have NEVER been vetted by any court or anyone in any state or federal government agency?”
In one of the released military emails, the sea burial was described:
Traditional procedures for Islamic burial was (sic) followed. The deceased body was washed (ablution) then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flatboard, tipped up, whereupon the deceased’s body slid into the seas.
But commentators note that the “religious remarks” never were released, and there appears to be no record of them.