Keep bin Laden photos private
Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 18:05
In the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, we as Americans have been debating whether or not photographs of his corpse should be released. Some organizations, such as the Associated Press and Judicial Watch, have filed Freedom of Information Act requests to have these photographs released.
Rather than release the photos to the public, President Obama has chosen to only allow certain key members of Congress to view the photographs. This is the correct approach to take because the release of these photos would not be in the national interest.
He is dead, absolutely and indisputably.
The death of Osama bin Laden has already been confirmed through DNA evidence. The Huffington Post recently reported that al-Qaida confirmed the death of bin Laden, and CNN recently reported that the Taliban confirmed his death.
Members of Congress have confirmed his death. Republican Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has confirmed the gruesomeness of these photos and was quoted as confirming his death in a recent article on CNN's website.
"That was him," Inhofe said. "He is gone. He is history."
Inhofe has called for at least partial release of the photos, and others, like U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have called for the full release of the photos.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has also seen the photographs and stated that he has no doubt that they were authentic. According to the Pensacola News Journal, he has written a letter to the president stating that he does not agree with the immediate release of the photos.
While it is proper for the president to make these photos available to members of Congress that are responsible for oversight of intelligence agencies and other parts of government, the full release of the photographs will not serve our national security interests.
There is absolutely no doubt that the death of bin Laden was an important strategic victory for the United States in the battle against al-Qaida.
The release of these photos, however, would make us look like we are taking a victory lap when we need to be treading very carefully. The belief that Americans are gloating over bin Laden's death could create a backlash against the United States.
This action could be misconstrued by our allies in the Middle East as an example of American arrogance and bravado at a time when we badly need to maintain their support.
We are going to need the support of our Arab allies and the world as a whole if we intend to win the war against al-Qaida.
Releasing these photographs could increase tensions with many countries that we have long considered friends.
The photographs could also be used as a recruitment tool for terrorists. If the photos were released publicly, it would be very easy for terrorists to trot the photos around and point to them as a symbol of American brutality.
This could ultimately lead to many new recruits joining networks such as al-Qaida due to being misinformed about who we are as a country.
Those who are convinced that bin Laden isn't dead are not likely to have their convictions overturned by the release of these photos.
There will no doubt be some conspiracy theorist out there that will say that the photos were doctored and that it isn't him.
If anything, it is likely to harden the resolve of these individuals rather than soften it.
The photographs of bin Laden's corpse should remain classified.