E-mails offer details on bin Laden burial

2012-11-22 15:53

Washington — Internal e-mails among US military officers indicate that no sailors watched Osama bin Laden's burial at sea from the USS Carl Vinson and traditional Islamic procedures were followed during the ceremony.

The e-mails, obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, are heavily blacked out, but are the first public disclosure of government information about the al-Qaeda leader's death. The e-mails were released on Wednesday by the Defence Department.

Bin Laden was killed on 1 May 2011, by a Navy Seal team that assaulted his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

One e-mail stamped secret and sent on 2 May by a senior Navy officer briefly describes how bin Laden's body was washed, wrapped in a white sheet, and then placed in a weighted bag.

According to another message from the Vinson's public affairs officer, only a small group of the ship's leadership was informed of the burial.

"Traditional procedures for Islamic burial was followed," the 2 May e-mail from Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette reads. "The deceased's body was washed (ablution) then placed in a white sheet. The body was placed in a weighted bag. A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased's body slid into the sea."

Code words

The e-mail also included a cryptic reference to the intense secrecy surrounding the mission. "The paucity of documentary evidence in our possession is a reflection of the emphasis placed on operational security during the execution of this phase of the operation," Gaouette's message reads.

 Recipients of the e-mail included Admiral Mike Mullen, then the chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General James Mattis, the top officer at US Central Command. Mullen retired from the military in September 2011.

Earlier, Gaouette, then the deputy commander of the Navy's Fifth Fleet, and another officer used code words to discuss whether the helicopters carrying the Seals and bin Laden's body had arrived on the Vinson.

"Any news on the package for us?" he asked Rear Admiral Samuel Perez, commander of the carrier strike group that included the Vinson.

"Fedex delivered the package," Perez responded. "Both trucks are safely enroute home base."

Although the Obama administration has pledged to be the most transparent in American history, it is keeping a tight hold on materials related to the bin Laden raid.

AP appealing decision

In a response to separate requests from the AP for information about the mission, the Defence Department said in March that it could not locate any photographs or video taken during the raid or showing bin Laden's body. It also said it could not find any images of bin Laden's body on the Vinson.

The Pentagon also said it could not find any death certificate, autopsy report or results of DNA identification tests for bin Laden, or any pre-raid materials discussing how the government planned to dispose of bin Laden's body if he were killed.

The Defence Department also refused to confirm or deny the existence of helicopter maintenance logs and reports about the performance of military gear used in the raid.

One of the stealth helicopters that carried the Seals to Abbottabad crashed during the mission and its wreckage was left behind. People who lived near bin Laden's compound took photos of the disabled chopper.

The AP is appealing the Defence Department's decision. The CIA, which ran the bin Laden raid and has special legal authority to keep information from ever being made public, has not responded to AP's request for records about the mission.

  • tumisang.kolobe - 2012-11-22 16:00

    Does it matter

  • jeremy.thewasp - 2012-11-22 16:06

    Mmmmm - Lovely ammo for Zeitgeists Peter Joseph

      johan.maree.5036 - 2012-11-22 17:12

      thinking the same thing, not one person ever saw him dead or alive...mmmmm... still think he might have been killed in 2001 in one of those caves they blew apart, but the weapons contractors and oil companies wouldn't have made billions on billion if they didn't go for a full war...

  • furlong.lubisi.7 - 2012-11-22 16:33

    Who cares about his burial. Maybe the family and close relatives can. It does not matter anymore, wheather wrapped in black or white bag, wheather given to dogs and eat., wheather had a good and proper funeral that does not matter anymore.

  • NickvanGraan - 2012-11-22 16:49

    If there was / is such secrecy surrounding this, how do we know what we are being told now is even true?

  • avremel.niselow - 2012-11-22 16:53

    Why is his burial relevant? Did the victims of 9-11 get proper burials? The left only cares about the "rights" of terrorists.

  • mfanah.radebe - 2012-11-22 17:10

    what the uz hez gone I don't give a continental shirt..........

  • theo.prinse - 2012-11-22 17:11

    Well show my the photos of the event and I will prove you the are photoshopped for shure. There never was a Osama bin Laden at the Abottabad villa in Pakistan. Since the aleged killing of bin Laden Al Qaeda has grown far more powerfull then ever before his Muslim Brother Barack hussein Obama tried to profit in a Argo style fashion but the only persons that got killed was 'ambassador' Chris Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Glenn Doherty and Sean Smith and of course David Petraeus.

  • Rashida Patel - 2012-11-22 21:39

    Unbelievable hogwash !! U S ,caring for the dead .....???? Ha ha ha

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