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Suit filed to see bin Laden death photos, videos

Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest group, says that it filed a lawsuit against the government for the release of Osama bin Laden death photos.
/ Source: staff and news service reports

A government watchdog group Friday sued the federal government to release Osama bin Laden death photos and videos.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Friday at a news conference that the release of the images from the Navy SEALs' raid on bin Laden's Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound are in the public interest.

The group filed the lawsuit in Washington, D.C., federal court under the Freedom of Information Act against the Department of Defense. Judicial Watch is a conservative Washington-based public interest nonprofit.

The suit follows a May 3 FOIA request for the images from the Pentagon and CIA.

Other groups to submit FOIA requests for the photos include NPR, Politico, The Associated Press and conservative advocacy group Citizens United, according to

The government had 20 days to respond to Judicial Watch's request, but the group said the Pentagon told it, "At this time, we are unable to make a release determination on your request within the 20-day statutory time period."

The CIA has not responded, Fitton said Friday.

He called images from the May 2 raid "basic information about one of the most important military operations in a generation."

SEALs killed bin Laden, who was hours later buried at sea from the USS Carl Vinson.

President Barack Obama said he had decided not to release post-mortem photos of bin Laden because doing so could incite violence and be used as an al-Qaida propaganda tool.

"The president's statements suggesting that these documents not be released because he doesn't want America to be seen as spiking the football or gloating are not lawful reasons for withholding the government information of this nature," Fitton said Friday.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Wednesday the CIA showed him raid photos, some of which he called "gruesome."

Inhofe said he saw 15 photographs, nine taken at the scene of the May 2 raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan; three from the USS Carl Vinson; and three older photographs to compare for positive identification.