Washington – President Obama has decided not to release photographs of Osama bin Laden’s body, CBS News reported on Wednesday. Mr. Obama said he concluded that images of Bin Laden, bloodied by gunshots, would do nothing to persuade skeptics, but could inflame tensions in the Muslim world and pose problems for America’s national security.
He disclosed his decision in an interview for the CBS program “60 Minutes,” part of which will be broadcast on the network’s evening news programs Wednesday.
According to a transcript read aloud at a White House press briefing, Mr. Obama said that there was no doubt Bin Laden was dead and that “we don’t trot this stuff out as trophies — that’s not who we are.”
The debate over whether to release photos of Bin Laden had consumed the White House over the last two days. Some senior officials said the release of photos was inevitable. On Tuesday, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, said he did not think “there was any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public.”
But officials at the Pentagon and State Department expressed qualms about releasing gruesome photos of Bin Laden’s bloodied corpse, with some arguing that the photos would not silence those who doubt that he was killed. Some lawmakers also opposed releasing the photos, arguing that doing so would serve little purpose and could endanger American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“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,” said Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “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.”
The White House said that Mr. Obama would take part on Thursday in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Sept. 11 memorial in lower Manhattan. He is also scheduled to meet with relatives of the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks, but he will not make a speech. The White House invited former president George W. Bush to accompany Mr. Obama in New York, but Mr. Bush declined, his spokesman said.
The plans came as further details emerged about the raid on Bin Laden’s fortified house in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Administration officials said that after members of the Navy Seals shot and killed Bin Laden, they found that he had money — 500 euros (about $746) — and two telephone numbers sewn into his robes. That suggested that Bin Laden had an escape plan, which he was not able to carry out when American helicopters landed in the compound.
Administration officials reiterated that Bin Laden had not tried to surrender in the final moments of his life, and that that justified the use of lethal force by the Navy Seals. On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder laid out a broader justification, citing Bin Laden’s role as the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“It was justified as an act of national self-defense,” Mr. Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “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.”
This article “Obama Says He Won’t Release Photos of Bin Laden’s Corpse” originally appeared at The New York Times.
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