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Pentagon says it has no records of bin Laden death

Just one word, uttered with full ironical, scorn-filled inflection: Seriously?

The hunt for Osama bin Laden took nearly a decade. It could take even longer to uncover U.S. government emails, planning reports, photographs and more that would shed light on how an elite team of U.S. Navy Seals killed the world’s most wanted terrorist. Ten months after that electrifying covert mission, an administration that has pledged to be the most transparent in American history is refusing to release documents under the Freedom of Information Act, the U.S. openness in government law, that would provide insights into how bin Laden died, how the U.S. verified his identity and how it decided to bury him at sea, as well as photographs taken during and after the May 2011 raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

…Requests for bin Laden materials were among the most significant filed last year under the open records law, which compels the government to turn over copies of federal records for free or at little cost. Anyone who seeks information under the FOIA generally is supposed to get it unless disclosure would harm national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making…Citing the law, 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. The Pentagon 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.

The Pentagon 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. The Defence Department said it searched files at the Pentagon, the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida, and the Navy command in San Diego, California, that controls the USS Carl Vinson, the aircraft carrier used in the mission.

The Pentagon told the AP in late February it could not find any emails about the bin Laden mission or his “Geronimo” code name that were sent or received in the year before the raid by William McRaven, the three-star admiral at the Joint Special Operations Command who organized and oversaw the mission. It also could not find any emails from other senior officers who would have been involved in the mission’s planning.

The information blackout means that the only public accounts of the mission come from U.S. officials who have described details of that night. In the hours and days after bin Laden’s death, the White House provided conflicting versions of events, falsely saying that bin Laden had been 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. President Barack Obama’s press secretary attributed the errors to the “fog of combat.” Since then, no authoritative or contemporaneous records have been made available. For the administration, the book on bin Laden appears to be closed. The administration 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.

[Etc., etc., etc.]

Full story: “Pentagon says it has no records of bin Laden death,” CTV News (Associated Press story), March 15, 2012