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Opinion

Admiral ordered photos of dead bin Laden destroyed after public records lawsuit

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,Judicial Watch,Transparency,Osama bin Laden,FOIA

Navy Adm. William McRaven, who organized the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, ordered photos of the dead terrorist destroyed after a watchdog group filed a lawsuit to access the pictures under a public records law.

“The McRaven ‘destroy them immediately' email is a smoking gun, revealing both contempt for the rule of law and the American's people right to know,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The Obama administration has tried to cover this scandal up -- and our lawsuit exposed it. We demand further investigation of the effort to destroy documents about the bin Laden raid.”

Fitton issued the statement along with an email obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that appears to show McRaven referring to the dead terrorist by his initials.

"One particular item that I want to emphasize is photos; particularly UBLs remains," McRaven wrote in a May 13, 2011, message. "At this point — all photos should have been turned over to the CIA; if you still have them destroy them immediately or get them to the [redacted]." Bin Laden's first name is sometimes spelled with a "U."

McRaven's email is time-stamped for 5:09 p.m. on May 13. Earlier that day, Judicial Watch had filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act demanding that the Pentagon reveal photos of bin Laden.

"The move by McRaven to purge the photos appears to have come, at least in part, in response to aggressive efforts by Judicial Watch to obtain Images of the deceased bin Laden that President Obama, in a rewrite of federal open records law, had refused to disclose," the group said in a press release.

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