Sorry, visual-hungry media, it’s a no.
Apparently, the president was persuaded by those in his cabinet, including Defense Secretary Bob Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that releasing the gruesome pics would do more harm than good.
From Al Jazeera English:
Barack Obama, the US president, has told an American television channel that he has decided not to release photos showing the body of Osama Bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, after he was killed by US commandos.
Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said Obama had consulted members of his national security team before making the decision.
Carney said that in the interview with CBS, Obama had stressed it was important to keep photographic evidence from “floating around as incitement or propaganda tool”.
“That is not who we are. We don’t trot this stuff out as trophies,” Obama was quoted as saying in the interview for the channel’s “60 Minutes” programme.
“There is no doubt that we killed Osama bin Laden. You will not see bin Laden walking on this Earth again,” the president said.
“It is not in our national security interests to allow those images, as has been in the past been the case, to become icons to rally opinion against the United States,” Carney said.
US officials who have seen the pictures taken of bin Laden’s body have described them as “gruesome”.
There are fears that if the photos are released they could provoke anger and trigger a backlash against US personnel in the Muslim world.
Kelly Ayotte, a Republican senator, said on Wednesday that she had seen one picture showing bin Laden’s face and that she believed it confirmed his identity.
Also today, A.G. Eric Holder was forced to defend killing the terror leader against charges of breaching international law, because at the time of the raid, bin Laden was unarmed. Holder called bin Laden a legitimate military target, who made no attempt to surrender.
“It was justified as an act of national self-defence,” Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee, citing bin Laden’s admission of being involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
It was lawful to target bin Laden because he was the enemy commander in the field and the operation was conducted in a way that was consistent with US laws and values, he said, adding that it was a “kill or capture mission”.
“If he had surrendered, attempted to surrender, I think we should obviously have accepted that, but there was no indication that he wanted to do that and therefore his killing was appropriate,” Holder said.
President Obama will lay a wreath at the site of the Twin Towers in New York on Thursday. Former President George W. Bush declined an invitation to attend.
Some reactions, ranging from adult (John Boehner and of all people, Rep. Peter King) to ridiculous (the usual Alaska grifter) here.
The Florida Senators react.
President Obama’s interview with “60 Minutes,” in which he explains his rationale, airs Sunday. Preview here.
Meanwhile, the White House announces there will be no new narratives on the raid, either.