President Obama has said that he has made the decision not to release photos of Obama Bin Laden’s corpse. The New York Times reports that he revealed this decision in an interview that will be broadcast of CBS’s “60 Minutes” show in Wednesday.
In the absence of photographic evidence, doubts have rapidly surfaced about whether or not it was indeed Bin Laden who was killed by US Navy Seals on Sunday. For the past two days, the White House has been debating about whether or not to release the photos. On Tuesday, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta indeed said that he did not think “there was any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public.”
However, officials at the Pentagon and State Department have raised numerous concerns about releasing what are reportedly “gruesome photos” of Bin Laden’s corpse, fearing that American diplomacy and troops in Iraq and Afghanistan could be endangered:
“Imagine how the American people would react if Al Qaeda killed one of our troops or military leaders, and put photos of the body on the internet,” said Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “Osama bin Laden is not a trophy. He is dead, and let’s now focus on continuing the fight until Al Qaeda has been eliminated.”
The Guardian quotes some US officials who have seen the photos and noted that they are indeed graphic:
US Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, a member of the Senate armed services committee, said that she had seen a facial shot of one of the photos and this confirmed his identity.
Fox News reports speaking to a “senior US official” who describes the photographs as “gruesome” as they “clearly show the side of Bin Laden’s head having been shot away, and reveal skull fragments and ‘brain matter,’” but not “the exit wounds of the two shots that hit Bin Laden, in the head and chest.”
In the absence of real photos, some fake — Photoshopped — ones have appeared on the web, says the New York Times
Given the ease with which images can be digitized and cut and pasted into documents and webpages the worldwide over, it sees likely that photos of Bin Laden’s corpse would be widely disseminated in a matter of seconds if released. Most likely, some will still demand further evidence of Bin Laden’s death. Perhaps for some, no amount of proof — photographic or otherwise — will be enough. Obama’s decision is a prudent step out of concerns for safety and for avoiding the spread of more violence.