Order to destroy Bin Laden body photos

22:43, Feb 10 2014
Osama bin Laden is seen at an undisclosed location in this television image broadcast October 7, 2001 from Al Jazeera Television in Qatar.
Osama bin Laden is seen at an undisclosed location in this television image broadcast October 7, 2001 from Al Jazeera Television in Qatar.
Barack Obama
BIN LADEN DEAD: US President Barack Obama addresses the world from the White House in Washington.
Barack Obama
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: US President Barack Obama announces to the world that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is dead.
Washington DC, USA
CELEBRATE: People cheer and wave flags outside the White House as President Barack Obama delivers the news that Osama bin Laden is dead.
Washington DC, USA
JUBILANT: People cheer outside the White House following news of Osama bin Laden's death.
Seoul, South Korea
BREAKING NEWS: A man watches a TV broadcast on the death of Osama bin Laden at Seoul train station in Seoul, South Korea.
Washington DC, USA
CHEERS: Crowds gathers outside the White House in Washington to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden.
Abbatabad, Pakistan
SCENE: An image made from Geo TV video shows flames at what is thought to be the compound where terror mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbatabad, Pakistan.
Osama bin Laden
CELEBRATION: People celebrate after Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, during a spontaneous celebration in New York's Times Square.
Osama bin Laden
ALL OVER THE WORLD: News telecasts are broadcasted on television sets at a store in Kabul.
A man walks past a television reporting the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Kabul.
A man walks past a television reporting the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Kabul.
People react to the death of Osama bin Laden in Times Square in New York.
People react to the death of Osama bin Laden in Times Square in New York.
Allyson Childress joins the crowds celebrating on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.
Allyson Childress joins the crowds celebrating on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.
Crowds celebrate on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House
Crowds celebrate on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.
Pakistani army soldiers with a crashed helicopter near the hideout of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after a ground operation by US Special Forces in Abbottabad.
Pakistani army soldiers with a crashed helicopter near the hideout of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after a ground operation by US Special Forces in Abbottabad.
The compound, within which al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed, is seen in flames after it was attacked in Abbottabad in this still image taken from video footage from a mobile phone.
The compound, within which al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed, is seen in flames after it was attacked in Abbottabad in this still image taken from video footage from a mobile phone.
People burn a photograph of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as they celebrate his death, in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad.
People burn a photograph of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as they celebrate his death, in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad.
Osama bin Laden compound
The compound within which al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed, the following morning.
Osama bin Laden compound
This video frame grab, obtained from ABC News on May 2, 2011, shows the interior in the mansion where Osama bin Laden was killed.
Osama bin Laden killed reaction
Anti-government protestors watch a television broadcasting a report about the death of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in a tent at the site of a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Osama bin Laden death reaction in Quetta
Supporters of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden shout anti-American slogans, after the news of his death, during a rally in Quetta May 2, 2011.

A newly-released email shows that 11 days after the killing of terror leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, the US military's top special operations officer ordered subordinates to destroy any photographs of the al Qaeda founder's corpse or turn them over to the CIA.

The email was obtained under a freedom of information request by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch. The document, released on Monday (local time) by the group, shows that Admiral William McRaven, who heads the US Special Operations Command, told military officers on May 13, 2011 that photos of bin Laden's remains should have been sent to the CIA or already destroyed. Bin Laden was killed by a special operations team in Pakistan on May 2, 2011.

McRaven's order to purge the bin Laden material came 10 days after The Associated Press asked for the photos and other documents under the US Freedom of Information Act. Typically, when a freedom of information request is filed to a government agency, the agency is obliged to preserve the material sought - even if the agency later denies the request.

On May 3, 2011, the AP asked Special Operations Command's Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Division office for "copies of all e-mails sent from and to the US government account or accounts" of McRaven referencing bin Laden. McRaven was then vice admiral.

A May 4, 2011 response from the command's FOIA office to the AP acknowledged the bin Laden document request and said it had been assigned for processing. AP did not receive a copy of the McRaven email obtained by Judicial Watch.

Last July, a draft report by the Pentagon's inspector general first disclosed McRaven's secret order, but the reference was not contained in the inspector general's final report. The email that surfaced on Monday was the first evidence showing the actual order.

In a heavily blacked-out email addressed to "gentlemen", McRaven told his unnamed subordinates: "One particular item that I want to emphasize is photos; particularly UBLs remains. At this point - all photos should have been turned over to the CIA; if you still have them destroy them immediately or get them" a blacked-out location. UBL refers to bin Laden.

At the time the inspector general's report came out, a spokesman for the Special Operations Command referred questions back to the inspector general.

A CIA spokesman said at the time that "documents related to the raid were handled in a manner consistent with the fact that the operation was conducted under the direction of the CIA director", then Leon Panetta. The CIA statement also said "records of a CIA operation such as the raid, which were created during the conduct of the operation by persons acting under the authority of the CIA director, are CIA records".

In a January 31, 2014 letter to Judicial Watch in response to its request for all records relating to McRaven's "directive to purge", the Pentagon's office of general counsel said it had been able to locate only document - Raven's redacted email.

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said Monday that the email "is a smoking gun, revealing both contempt for the rule of law and the American people's right to know".

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Osama bin Laden
OSAMA BIN LADEN: Was killed in a covert operation by the US.

AP