Newly released emails say no sailors watched bin Laden’s burial at sea after Navy SEAL raid

WASHINGTON — Internal emails among U.S. 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 emails, 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-Qaida leader’s death. The emails were released Wednesday by the Defense Department.

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

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.

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 from the AP 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.

Father of USS Cole victim is allowed to display anti-Islam decal

Jesse Nieto, whose son was killed along with 15 other sailors in the 2000 terrorist attack against the USS Cole, had used to display an anti-Islam decal on his car proclaiming “Islam=Terrorism,” as well as a picture of US flag with the words: “Disgrace My Countries [sic] Flag And I Will [defecate] On Your Quran.” He also displayed a cartoon of the prophet Mohammad as a re-creation of the Danish cartoons that had provoked Muslims. Mr. Nieto is a civilian employee at the Camp Lejeune Marine Base. After seven years of displaying these messages, Mr. Nieto was ordered to remove them. Nieto filed a lawsuit in North Carolina based on his right to freedom of speech. He has now won the case and is allowed to display anti-Islam decals on his car while driving on the base.