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Citizens United Bin Laden FOIA Request

Citizens United Bin Laden FOIA Request

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Published by CitizensUnited
Citizens United is requesting any and all photographs and or videotapes taken during the Abbottabad raid conducted on May 1, 2011 that document the death of Usama bin Laden. We are also requesting any and all photographs and or videotapes created during the funeral and funeral preparations of Usama bin Laden carried out on or around the U.S.S. Carl Vinson.
Citizens United is requesting any and all photographs and or videotapes taken during the Abbottabad raid conducted on May 1, 2011 that document the death of Usama bin Laden. We are also requesting any and all photographs and or videotapes created during the funeral and funeral preparations of Usama bin Laden carried out on or around the U.S.S. Carl Vinson.

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categoriesBusiness/Law
Published by: CitizensUnited on May 05, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/08/2011

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1006 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20003Phone: (202) 547-5420
Fax: (202) 547-5421
citizensunited.org
Contributions or gifts to Citizens United are not tax deductible.
May 5, 2011Via Facsimile and U.S. Postal Service
RE: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST
Dear Freedom of Information Officer:I write today on behalf of Citizens United and its 500,000 members to file a request pursuant to
the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (“FOIA”).
 Citizens United is requesting any and all photographs and or videotapes taken during theAbbottabad raid conducted on May 1, 2011 that document the death of Usama bin Laden. Weare also requesting any and all photographs and or videotapes created during the funeral andfuneral preparations of Usama bin Laden carried out on or around the U.S.S. Carl Vinson.Recent statements by Obama Administration officials have left a cloud of doubt and uncertaintyregarding the death of Usama bin Laden and the circumstances surrounding it. TheAdministration has continued to revise its account of the raid which has raised serious questionsregarding the death of Usama bin Laden. It is unfortunate that the facts and circumstancessurrounding the raid are not being accurately conveyed to the public.Citizens United has filed this request simultaneously with the following agencies:The Department of DefenseThe Department of the NavyThe Department of JusticeThe Federal Bureau of InvestigationThe Department of StateThe Central Intelligence AgencyWe are also requesting expedited processing of our request pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(E).
 
THERE ARE NO SUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO JUSTIFY WITHHOLDING THEREQUESTED MATERIALS
We do not believe the materials requested to be covered by any of the nine traditional FOIAexceptions. FOIA provides a limited set of circumstances under which material may bewithheld: (1) protection of classified matters of national defense or foreign policy; (2) internalpersonnel rules and practices; (3) information specifically exempted by other statutes; (4) tradesecrets, commercial or financial information; (5) privileged interagency or intra-agency
memoranda or letters; (6) personal information affecting an individual’s privacy; (7)
investigatory records compiled for law enforcement purpose; (8) records of financial institutions;and (9) geographical and geophysical information concerning wells.Of these grounds only one could even plausibly be asserted
 – 
that the image is exempted becauseit is a classified matter of national defense. To assert that the image is classified would stand inopposition to the facts and the current state of the law. The United States government haspublicly acknowledged its role in the Abbottabad raid and the capture and death of Usama binLaden. To provide visual confirmation of the death of Usama bin Laden could hardly be said to
“cause identifiable or describable damage to the national security.”
 The Obama Administration would be ill advised to improperly declare an image classified. Sucha politically motivated move would tarnish the Administration and forever leave a cloud of doubtlingering over the death of Usama Bin Laden.While we do not believe any of the FOIA exemptions apply to the requested material, the ObamaAdministration has previously shown a reluctance to disclose material that is subject todisclosure. For example in 2009, the Obama Administration resisted efforts to compel disclosureof photos and videotapes documenting detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib. The Administration wentso far as to enlist Congress in circumventing its reporting obligations. While the matter workedits way through the judicial system, Congress enacted the Protected National SecurityDocuments Act of 2009, in part to protect the requested images from disclosure.As of the date of this letter, Congress has not provided the Obama Administration with a waiverof its disclosure obligations regarding the May 1, 2011 raid on Abbottabad and the death of Usama bin Laden.
REQUEST FOR FEE WAIVER
Citizens United qualifies as a “representative[
] o
f the news media” and is not seeking these
materials for commercial use. The fees associated with the processing of the request should be
“limited to reasonable standard charges for document duplication.” 5 U.S.C. §
552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II).Citizens United seeks to provide this information which is of considerable interest to the public.Citizens United has a strong track record of making important information easily available to thepublic. Through mass communications including newsletters, websites, and internet videosCitizens United has created a strong distribution system to make information widely available to
 
the public. If you visit our website,www.citizensunited.com,you will see our success atreleasing and disseminating information to the public.Furthermore, we are entitled to a fee waiver on the grounds that the disclosure of the requested
records “is likely to contribute significantly to the public understanding of the activities or 
operations
of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.” 5
U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii).For these reasons we assert that Citizens United should not be charged fees associated withresponding to this FOIA request. However should fees be imposed, Citizens United is willing topay up to $500.00 in search and duplication costs. Please contact Citizens United before suchcosts are incurred.
REQUEST FOR EXPEDITED PROCESSING
Citizens United seeks expedited review of this FOIA request pursuant to 5 U.S.C. §552(a)(6)(E)(v)(II). This information could significantly impact impending policy decisions of the Obama Administration and Congress to which informed members of the public mightcontribute. Timely public access to these materials is necessary to fully inform the public of theactions of the Federal government in the attempted capture and death of Usama bin Laden.
Citizens United’s request should receive expedited consideration because it is “
primarilyengaged in disseminating information
and there is an
urgency to inform the public of an actualor alleged Federal government activity.
We further note that this "exceptional need or urgencyfor the records" is such that it is
beyond the public's right generally to know about governmentactivity
and
warrants pr
ioritization” of this request “
over other requests.
 * * *
We trust that you will live up to President Obama’s oft
-cited commitment to transparency andprovide the requested materials.Should our request be denied in whole or in part, we ask that you provide an explanationreferencing specific exemptions to FOIA. Should any portion of our request be denied, we trustthat you will provide all non-exempt materials requested. We reserve the right to appeal anydenial of fee waiver and any decision to withhold information that we have requested.We have requested an expedited processing of our request, but in any event, we anticipate yourresponse within twenty business days (June 3, 2011) as required under 5 U.S.C. §552(a)(6)(A)(i). Please direct your response to:R. Christian BergAssistant General CounselCitizens United1006 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E.Washington, DC 20003

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Paul Sorrells added this note|
So, the surviving leadership of al Qaeda declaring that Osama bin Laden is dead isn't good enough, eh? Next thing we know, someone will demand that President Obama release his birth certificate. Oh, right, he did that already, proving that he was born an American citizen in a Honolulu hospital of an American-born mother. As far as bin Laden's death, I trust the U.S. Seals who identified him.

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