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Uncertain outcome in fight over release of photos of the dead Osama bin Laden

In a fight over free press rights and national security, it is far from clear which side will prevail in the dispute over releasing photos of Osama bin Laden’s dead body.

Reuters reporter Andrew Longstreth wrote that secrecy expert Steven Aftergood doesn’t think the courts will see a substantial  national security issue over the photos, but he also quotes free press attorney Floyd Abrams’ more skeptical opinion, “It [deciding for the release] requires a judge to make a judgment that the judgment of the president and the executive branch is so plainly flawed that this material either shouldn’t be considered properly classified or is not really related to a national defense issue. It’s not that it’s impossible but it’s very difficult.”

Longstreth reports that a national security expert Mark Zaid said it might be best for everyone if the decision were left to Congress. But Longstreth said the Obama administration would face some formidable opponents there including some leading Republicans usually conservative on national security. -db

From a Reuters analysis, May 16, 2011, by Andrew Longstreth.

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