Republican members of the House intelligence committee say the Obama administration should release more of the one million-plus documents found after the 2011 raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The White House has so far released around 120, including 86 more on Wednesday that revealed relatively trivial details, like the terrorist mastermind’s reading list. (One interesting nugget, though, was that al Qaeda had been considering opening a recruitment office in Iran.)
“Everything should be released,” said New York congressman Peter King, who sits on the intelligence committee. King clarified that those documents with sensitive material about military and intelligence assets ought to have that information redacted. “But there’s no reason why almost all of these documents shouldn’t be out there. They should have been released a long time ago.”
“Four years after capturing troves of documents from Osama bin Laden’s compound, the public is still in the dark. Documents and files are needlessly kept secret at the cost of transparency. Publish the information. Get it in front of experts, scholars, journalists, and the public,” said Ohio Republican Brad Wenstrup, another intelligence committee member. “It’s a matter of good governance.”
But as reported in THE WEEKLY STANDARD, the Obama administration and the some inside the CIA have resisted calls for the documents to be released publicly. Among those in Congress leading the effort to release those documents publicly is House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican from California. It was Nunes himself who inserted language into the most recent intelligence reauthorization legislation that requires the administration to release these documents. The White House has been slow to do so, and its document “drip” appears selective.
Other Republican members of the House intelligence committee weighed in on the need for more documents to be released.
“I support Chairman Nunes’s push to allow more documents like these to be released to the public,” said Ohio Republican Mike Turner. “Declassifying this information conclusively establishes that bin Laden was an active threat to the United States.”
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Florida, said she “urged” the office of the Director of National Intelligence to review more documents “in an expedient manner and release them to the public as soon as possible.”
“The documents recovered in the bin Laden raid are important for our nation’s further understanding of al-Qaeda, its extremist ideology, and the threat to American security,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “As seen by recent terror attacks across the Middle East and elsewhere, al-Qaeda and its derivatives remain, despite claims to the contrary, a threat to our nation, our values, and our way of life.”
Peter King suggests the Obama administration is slow-walking the release of the documents for political reasons. “All I can think of is that it goes against their narrative that al Qaeda was on the run,” he says.
King said there was “real reluctance” from administration officials to reveal anything about the cache of documents in meetings with members of the intelligene committees. “It was our team versus their team,” said King of the administration’s reaction to the idea of releasing the documents. “A lot of it was like pulling teeth.”