President Obama told CBS News Wednesday that he would not release the death photos of Osama bin Laden, grisly images that depict the terrorist leader with a major head wound. In an interview with 60 Minutes, set to be broadcast on Sunday, the President was asked if he saw the photos. “Yes,” Obama said. Then he was asked his reaction. “It was him,” the President continued.
Obama went on to say that he had decided that there were national security risks to releasing such volatile imagery of bin Laden, saying they could lead to “incitement to additional violence.” Obama also said that a release was not in the American character. “That’s not who we are. We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies,” Obama said. “There are going to be some folks who deny it. The fact of the matter is you will not see bin Laden walking on this earth again.”
Republicans have been divided on the issue. Fox News pundit Sarah Palin, a former governor of Alaska, tweeted her disappointment in the President’s decision, with a side swipe at Obama’s leadership on the issue. “Show photo as warning to others seeking America’s destruction. No pussy-footing around, no politicking, no drama; it’s part of the mission,” she wrote.
Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told CBS News, by contrast, that he did not support the photo release. “The risks of release outweigh the benefits,” he said. “Conspiracy theorists around the world will just claim the photos are doctored anyway, and there is a real risk that releasing the photos will only serve to inflame public opinion in the Middle East,”
“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,” he continued. “Osama bin Laden is not a trophy – he is dead and let’s now focus on continuing the fight until Al Qaida has been eliminated.”
To read more on the interview with Rogers and the President’s comments, see the CBS News story here.