Monday, January 14, 2013

Appeals Court Weighs Release of bin Laden Death Photos

English: DC Court of Appeals court seal
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week heard arguments from a conservative watchdog group seeking to overturn a federal judge's refusal to order the U.S. Department of Defense to release graphic photos of the slain Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

In a 29-page Memorandum of Decision last year in Judicial Watch, Inc. v. United States Department of Defense (11-cv-00890), United States District Court for the District of Columbia Judge James Boasberg rejected a Freedom of Information Act [5 U.S.C. sec. 552 et seq.] request by conservative watchdog Judicial Watchdog, Inc. to release 52 images concerning the death and burial of bin Laden on the grounds that the depictions were inflammatory and posed a national security risk, (See "TUOL" posts 4/27/12, 1/30/12.)

The group made its case for reversal of the lower court decision before appellate justices Judith Rogers, Merrick Garland and Senior Judge Harry Edwards, according to a post by the Legal Times blog ( Justice Garland, in particular, appeared disinclined to undo Judge Boasberg's ruling, stating during oral argument that deferring to the government's determination that public distribution of the photos of bin Laden, who was killed during a Seal Team Six raid of Pakistan in May 2011, could incite riots among the terrorist leader's supporters seemed a sensible course, in view of the violent demonstrations touched off by editorial cartoon depictions of Islam prophet Mohammed.

Judicial Watch attorneys contend that the gruesome photos were improperly classified pursuant to procedural criteria set forth in a presidential executive order, the Legal Times post noted.
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