That’s the accusation made by investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson:
“If you know how the White House works, a photographer is omnipresent,” Attkisson said. “He would have been there taking photographs in the Situation Room. He would have been taking photographs of the president that night. So we asked for the photos, which in my view, are public information. They are paid for with tax dollars, and they release them when they want them released and they are positive . The photo office indicated initially, this was probably in October or November 2012, that we could have the photos at the end of the day and that never materialized. They suddenly started referring us a White House deputy press secretary, Josh Earnest, who is now press secretary. And they said Josh would have to approve it, and he would never return a call or e-mail. We would try to maintain communication with him or try to make communication with him over a long period of time, and he wouldn’t even answer. We would go to the press, photographer’s office and say you have given us an impossible task, you have told us to talk to someone who will not talk to us. You need to give us another route to follow to try and get these photos, and they would say no, you have to talk to Josh Earnest. So that just went down a dead-end road…”
Attkisson’s right, this is public property and should be subject to Freedom of Information Act rules. And it’s not as if the White House has ever been shy about releasing photos of Obama in other situations. Quite the opposite. There are, for example, well-known photos of Obama observing the mission to assassinate Osama bin Laden. And, if you think back there were plenty of photos of President Bush and the White House staff dealing with the crisis of the 9-11 attacks.
So why none of President Obama on what was arguably one of the most dramatic nights of his administration, when Americans in the nation’s service were fighting for their lives?
It’s just a guess, but I suspect the reason is that their revelation would seriously embarrass Obama, who (again, guessing) left it to Panetta and JCS Chairman General Dempsey to handle things while he “arranged things” with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in order to preserve their deal. Or maybe he just didn’t think it was important and just went to bed, which in its own way would be equally embarrassing. So, just as the LA Times sits on the Rashid Khalidi tape, the White House press office has deep-sixed those photos (1) to spare Obama public disgrace.
Someday they’ll come out. Just not while Obama is in office and Josh Earnest is his press secretary.
via Max Abrahms
(1) If they exist. Admitting they don’t would be just as bad for Obama, since it would also be an admission that he wasn’t doing anything worth recording that night.