New details revealed in the burial of Osama bin Laden

Posted at 8:06 AM, Nov 22, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-22 08:10:05-05

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVR) - Newly released emails from U.S. military officers indicate that no American sailors watched Osama bin Laden's burial at sea and that traditional Islamic procedures were followed during the secret ceremony aboard the USS Carl Vinson.

The emails, obtained by the Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, are heavily redacted, but are the first public disclosure of government information about the al-Qaida leader's death. The emails were released Wednesday by the Defense Department.

One email stamped secret and sent on May 2 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.

The email also included a cryptic reference to the intense secrecy surrounding the mission.

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. 

In a response to separate requests for information about the mission, the Defense 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 CIA, which ran the bin Laden raid and has special legal authority to keep information from ever being made public, has not responded to request for records about the mission.

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