Why the Pentagon secrecy about Osama bin Laden?
Ten months after the covert mission whereby Navy SEALs reportedly killed the world’s most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden, an administration that has pledged to be the most transparent in American history is refusing to release documents about it under the Freedom of Information Act.
Government officials have openly discussed details of the mission in speeches, interviews and television appearances, but the administration won’t disclose records that would confirm their narrative of that fateful night.
The Associated Press asked for files about the raid in more than 20 separate requests, mostly submitted the day after bin Laden’s death. The Pentagon told the AP this month it could not locate any photographs or video taken during the raid or showing bin Laden’s body. It also said it could not find any images of bin Laden’s body on the Navy aircraft carrier where the al-Qaida leader’s body was taken.
[However] in a Judicial Watch lawsuit, federal officials had acknowledged that the CIA has more than 50 photographs and video recordings of bin Laden’s body taken after the raid and during his burial at sea.
The Pentagon also said it could not find any death certificate, autopsy report or results of DNA identification tests for bin Laden, or any pre-raid materials discussing how the government planned to dispose of bin Laden’s body if he were killed. It said it searched files at the Pentagon, U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., and the Navy command in San Diego that controls the USS Carl Vinson, the aircraft carrier used in the mission.
In late February, the Defense Department had told the AP it could not find any emails about the bin Laden mission.
The Pentagon is refusing even to confirm or deny the existence of helicopter maintenance logs and reports about the performance of military gear used in the raid. One of the stealth helicopters that carried the SEALs to Abbottabad crashed during the mission and its wreckage was left behind. People who lived near bin Laden’s compound took photos of the disabled chopper as it straddled one of the high walls surrounding the building. The photos showed a unique tail rotor that aviation experts said was designed to avoid radar detection.
The information blackout means that the only public accounts of the mission come from U.S. officials who have described details of that night.
And in the hours and days after bin Laden’s death, the White House provided conflicting versions of events, falsely saying that bin Laden was armed and even firing at the SEALs, misidentifying which of bin Laden’s sons was killed, and incorrectly saying bin Laden’s wife died in the shootout. Since then, no authoritative or contemporaneous records have been made available.
[Excerpt of Star Tribune article]