Navy officials have asked a federal court not to require release of documents concerning the burial of Osama bin Laden because they fear doing so would hand Al Qaeda an opportunity to stir up new outrage among Muslims directed at the U.S.
"Notwithstanding the fact that proper burial procedures were followed during bin Laden's burial at sea, al-Qa'ida would almost assuredly question the propriety of those procedures, thereby inflaming tensions among overseas populations that include al- Qa'ida members or sympathizers, encouraging propaganda by various terrorist groups or other entities hostile to the United States, and potentially leading to retaliatory attacks against the United States and its citizens both at home and abroad," the Navy said in a motion seeking to dismiss a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch.
The non-profit transparency activist group is seeking to force release of multiple documents concerning the raid in which bin Laden was killed and including details of how his body was buried at sea by the Navy. The Navy has declined to release most of the requested documents and major portions of those that have been made public were heavily redacted.
"There is simply no exemption in FOIA law that allows the government to withhold records from the American people because terrorists might be offended," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told The Washington Examiner.
"First, we're told that we can't see videos or photos of the burial, now we're told we can't see written information about the burial. This attempt to rewrite FOIA law to include a 'let's not offend the terrorists' exemption is another example of the Obama administration thinking it is the law unto itself."
Among the heavily redacted documents Judicial Watch received was one in which appeared a paragraph describing the bin Laden burial:
"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 sea."
Fitton's group has also filed multiple FOIA requests and litigation with the Department of Defense concerning its cooperation with the producers of the recent movie about the bin Laden raid, "Zero Dark Thirty."
In a statement release today, the group pointed to the contrast between what it described as "the Obama administration's heavy reliance on FOIA exemptions to withhold information from the American people with its open embrace of filmmakers producing a bin Laden assault film praising the President's role in the affair."
Go here for more from Judicial Watch on the bin Laden burial litigation.