(Image Source: Pat Hollard)

BY ALANA YOUNG
ANCHOR MEGAN MURPHY

 

You're watching multisource US video news analysis from Newsy.

 

President Obama’s announcement to not release photos of Osama bin Laden has received a lot of criticism from naysayers -- pointing to a lack of transparency from the government.

Recent debate has shifted from the administration’s obligation to legality. Many point to the Freedom of Information Act, which makes certain government records available by request. But in a Fox News interview, Judge Andrew Napolitano says FOIA provides an exemption based on national security interests.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO: “That's a decision the president can make that cannot be second-guessed by the court. On the other hand if the president decides to reveal them and harm comes about as a result of their revelation the president can't be sued, the government can't be sued as a result of their revelation. The bottom line is there is no way to compel the president, there is no way to seek redress from the president. It's entirely his decision.”

In recent past, we’ve seen photos thought to be a threat to national security such as ones from Abu Ghraib and the execution of Saddam Hussein. Many say the Bin Laden photos aren’t any different. But legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin says there is a major distinction between then and now, and says - this is not the same at all.

JEFFREY TOOBIN: “Those other examples were unauthorized leaks. I think all of us in the news business and I think all of us who are citizens are glad that the public got to see that material because it turned out to be very important. The world being what it is, these photographs may leak. Someone may do it in an unauthorized way. But certainly the legal process is not going to be the route for these photos to be released.”

National security law expert Mark Zaid tells the National Law Journal, the important question is exactly who has the photos -- saying FOIA requirements don’t include the White House.

“The pictures, presumably, were taken by operatives from the Defense Department's Navy Seals or the Central Intelligence Agency - both subject to FOIA as federal agencies. The White House, however, is exempt from FOIA requests.”

A writer for the Good blog says informing the American public should be the administration’s concern -- and adds withholding war images quote -- “impoverishes the public debate”.

"… Releasing a photo of a man you shot in the face isn't the affront to human dignity. Shooting a man in the face is. Even if it's justified. Releasing the photo is simply being transparent about it.”

But a legal activist and law professor from George Washington University says the president has the upper-hand and controls the timetable.  He thinks the national security debate is simply a distraction.

"It's unlikely that a picture showing what the President and other government officials have already described clearly and in some detail to the public could harm national security … By declining to release the photos now, and requiring those seeking them to resort to FOIA, Obama can have his cake of seeming to be sensitive while also eating it by insuring that the photos can be released in response to FOIA demands..." 

 

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Transcript by Newsy.

Obama Says No to Photo Release, Can the FOIA Make Him?

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Transcript
May 5, 2011

Obama Says No to Photo Release, Can the FOIA Make Him?

(Image Source: Pat Hollard)

BY ALANA YOUNG
ANCHOR MEGAN MURPHY

 

You're watching multisource US video news analysis from Newsy.

 

President Obama’s announcement to not release photos of Osama bin Laden has received a lot of criticism from naysayers -- pointing to a lack of transparency from the government.

Recent debate has shifted from the administration’s obligation to legality. Many point to the Freedom of Information Act, which makes certain government records available by request. But in a Fox News interview, Judge Andrew Napolitano says FOIA provides an exemption based on national security interests.

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO: “That's a decision the president can make that cannot be second-guessed by the court. On the other hand if the president decides to reveal them and harm comes about as a result of their revelation the president can't be sued, the government can't be sued as a result of their revelation. The bottom line is there is no way to compel the president, there is no way to seek redress from the president. It's entirely his decision.”

In recent past, we’ve seen photos thought to be a threat to national security such as ones from Abu Ghraib and the execution of Saddam Hussein. Many say the Bin Laden photos aren’t any different. But legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin says there is a major distinction between then and now, and says - this is not the same at all.

JEFFREY TOOBIN: “Those other examples were unauthorized leaks. I think all of us in the news business and I think all of us who are citizens are glad that the public got to see that material because it turned out to be very important. The world being what it is, these photographs may leak. Someone may do it in an unauthorized way. But certainly the legal process is not going to be the route for these photos to be released.”

National security law expert Mark Zaid tells the National Law Journal, the important question is exactly who has the photos -- saying FOIA requirements don’t include the White House.

“The pictures, presumably, were taken by operatives from the Defense Department's Navy Seals or the Central Intelligence Agency - both subject to FOIA as federal agencies. The White House, however, is exempt from FOIA requests.”

A writer for the Good blog says informing the American public should be the administration’s concern -- and adds withholding war images quote -- “impoverishes the public debate”.

"… Releasing a photo of a man you shot in the face isn't the affront to human dignity. Shooting a man in the face is. Even if it's justified. Releasing the photo is simply being transparent about it.”

But a legal activist and law professor from George Washington University says the president has the upper-hand and controls the timetable.  He thinks the national security debate is simply a distraction.

"It's unlikely that a picture showing what the President and other government officials have already described clearly and in some detail to the public could harm national security … By declining to release the photos now, and requiring those seeking them to resort to FOIA, Obama can have his cake of seeming to be sensitive while also eating it by insuring that the photos can be released in response to FOIA demands..." 

 

'Like Newsy' on Facebook for more video news in your feed. 

Get more multisource US video news analysis from Newsy.

 

Transcript by Newsy.

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