No Sailors Watched Bin Laden Burial

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 22 2012 4:46 PM

No Sailors Watched Bin Laden Burial

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Undated file picture of Osama bin Laden

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

Most of the sailors aboard the USS Carl Vinson, where Osama bin Laden’s burial at sea was carried out, had no idea what was going on, according to recently released military e-mails, reports CNN. The burial followed all the traditional Islamic procedures, according to the e-mails yet less than a dozen “leadership” members were informed of the preparations and subsequent burial. “No sailors watched,” said another e-mail.

The Associated Press appears to have been the first to receive copies of the heavily redacted e-mails through a Freedom of Information Act request. It marks the first official government documentation released about the burial at sea of the al-Qaida leader. One e-mail describes that bin Laden’s body was washed, wrapped in a white sheet and 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,” according to a May 2 e-mail from Rear Adm. Charles Gaouette. The Defense Department insists it has not been able to find any images of bin Laden’s body on the carrier.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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