In a move that has surprised many, President Barack Obama has said that he won’t be releasing photos of Osama bin Laden’s dead body. White House press secretary Jay Carney told reports, “It is not in our national security interest … to allow these images to become icons to rally opinion against the United States. “ He went on to say that, “We have no need to publish those photographs to establish that Osama bin Laden was killed.”
The bin Laden Photo Debates
This controversial choice is sparking a great deal of debate. The White House insists that pictures of the body would only incite more violence. While some political pundits argue that the photos would put to rest conspiracy theories and doubters, others say that they would only inflame jihadists.CIA chief Leon Panetta made much of the public feel that the release of such photos was imminent. On Tuesday, when explaining that he believed photos would be released at some point, he said, “I just think it’s important — they know we have it — to release it.”Obama apparently consulted with Cabinet and security officials before making his final decision on Wednesday morning. Both Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were among the Obama supporters who wanted to keep the pictures classified.
Party Line Opinions
Opinions about Obama’s decision do not fall clearly along party lines. While some Republicans, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rep. Duncan Hunter of California called Obama’s decisions a “mistake,” other Republicans stood by his decision. Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a written statement, “I know bin Laden is dead. But the best way to protect and defend our interests overseas is to prove that fact to the rest of the world. I’m afraid the decision made today by President Obama will unnecessarily prolong this debate.”Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan and House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King both support Obama’s decision. Mike Rogers said, “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. 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.”Democrats are also split in their opinions.Obama’s decision arrives when a poll shows that most Americans do support seeing the photographs. In a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. released on Tuesday of 700 adults, 56% of them said that they do thing that the government should release the photos of bin Laden’s body.