Just when you think the death of bin Laden would fade into the sunset like the end of a John Ford movie, comes the controversy over whether the United States should release the so called “death photos” of bin Laden. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on the President’s decision not to release the photos. Sarah Palin tweeted:
Show photo as warning to others seeking America’s destruction. No pussy-footing around, no politicking, no drama; it’s part of the mission
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) weighed in for the release of the photos:
“I respectfully disagree with President Obama’s decision not to release the photos. It’s a mistake,” Graham said in a statement. “The whole purpose of sending our soldiers into the compound, rather than an aerial bombardment, was to obtain indisputable proof of Bin Laden’s death. 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,” he added.
On the other hand, Sen. Jim Risch,(R-Idaho) said that releasing the photos would be a mistake:
“I’m not so sure you want to poke the bee hive by releasing these photos at this time,” Risch told us.
He added that he doesn’t think a photograph will change the minds of those who are inclined to believe in conspiracy theories regarding bin Laden’s death.
“A photograph isn’t going to make any difference,” he said. “DNA has now been confirmed to be 100 percent positive that it was bin Laden. That’s what’s going to convince people. Having said that, photos, DNA, whatever you have — you know, there’s people who still believe that we didn’t walk on the moon. And there’s going to be people who believe that he wasn’t killed.”
In addition, former press secretary under President George W. Bush Ari Fleischer wrote on his Twitter account:
“If you doubt he’s dead, no photo will satisfy. For the rest of us, Navy SEALs don’t miss,” Fleischer wrote on Twitter.
(Fleischer’s comment wins the award for “Statement of the Obvious” from the Navy SEALS.)
As for our opinion here at Raised on Hoecakes, a little bit of historical perspective may be in order. On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while traveling through the streets of Dallas. Before Kennedy’s body was cold, there were conspiracy theories abounding on who had shot Kennedy, the reason behind the assassination and the most curious of all conspiracy theories, that Kennedy was not dead. Out of deference the the grieving family and a distraught nation, the autopsy photos of Kennedy were presented to the Warren Commission that looked into the assassination, but the photos were not published and instead were sealed for 30 years. In 1976, the House of Representatives again re-examined the Kennedy assassination. The Kennedy autopsy photos were again presented to the Committee, and placed back into a government repository.
The fact that the autopsy photos were not released fueled the conspiracy theorists and more germane to the topic at hand, fueled those who believed Kennedy was not dead.
When the autopsy reports were finally released, including the one to the right, conspiracy theorists still refused to believe Kennedy had died that day in Dallas and perhaps was still walking around somewhere.
The fact of the matter is for the conspiracy theorists who are saying that bin Laden is not dead, no pictures, statements or testimony from the members of the SEAL team will ever convince them. They will always say that the photos were faked, it is another person, or any number of theories rather than accept that they are wrong.
When the death of bin Laden was announced, the photo to the left was purported to be an image of bin Laden in death. Immediately news services, papers, and blogs ran with the image. It was and still is all over the internet. There is only one problem: it is a fake. The image is actually that of another man with an overlay and melding of bin Laden on top. If you look closely, you can see the layers used to create the image. The picture was made shortly after the announcement of bin Laden’s demise and people took it to be real even though there are flaws. Given the digital technology available now, the ability to do a higher quality, less flawed image, and the time that has elapsed since bin Laden’s death, those who believe that he was not killed will never accept any photo as proof.
Therefore, if the reason for releasing the photos is to prove bin Laden is dead, releasing them will not fulfill that objective.
At the same time that there are people calling for the release of the photos, there are those saying they should remain sealed for now. Most who feel that way do so because they believe that releasing the photos will incite Muslims around the world. Those who argue this need a reality check. History has shown us that no matter what is done or said, some nut who is either a cleric or follower of Islam will take offense and announce a war against the “evil Americans.”
As we previously noted if the war on terrorism is not against Islam and but against those who pervert Islam, then whatever happened to bin Laden should not inflame other Muslims as bin Laden, as a terrorist, could not be a Muslim.
But that is not the case. Even though the US disposed of bin Laden’s body according to the Qu’ran, Muslim clerics and their followers were not happy and declared that the US had violated bin Laden’s body.
There is no winning with people who think that way. Saying that releasing the photos will put soldiers and Americans at risk is the same as saying the throwing a match onto a raging house fire caused the house to burn down.
Personally, I am uncomfortable with the morbid curiosity of people who actually want to see a picture of a dead man with holes in his head. To some extent, I think that shows how far we have fallen as a society.
The bottom line for us here are Raised on Hoecakes is that it matters not one iota whether the photos are released or not. If they are held, people who will never be convinced that bin Laden is dead will still believe that way. Even if the photos are released, they will believe that way.
At the same time, it won’t take the release of the photos to get Muslims and supporters of terrorism to hate America and Americans. That hatred is already there.
The issue of the release of the photos to us is not the actual release or non-release of the photos.
The issue is the leadership Obama shows in making a decision. Decision making is not his forte. Even the decision to get bin Laden took Obama 16 hours to make, including time to sleep. While Obama slept, the men making the assault and their commanders waited. While Obama slept, the intelligence that placed bin Laden in Pakistan was growing colder by the moment.
Obama showed some leadership (delayed as it was) in making the actual decision to get bin Laden. It seems such an easy decision to make given the nearly 10 year history of searching for the terrorist. Yet many are calling on his decision as “heroic” and an “example of how great a President he is.”
For now Obama has decided not to release the photos. I can live with that. But Obama has made statements, promises and “decisions” before and seems to have no reservations in breaking them.
Whether he sticks to this decision is what is important to me.
And frankly, I am not holding my breath for him to keep his word.
Around the Right Blogfest, Steve Bussey writes, “The bin-Laden photographs: It isn’t about “stooping to their level””