Is Obama Right to Not Release the bin Laden Death Photos?

The president told CBS he will not release gruesome post-mortem photos of the al Qaeda leader.


Despite some public pressure, President Obama has said he will not release photographs of Osama bin Laden’s corpse. The president made this announcement in an interview recorded for next Sunday’s 60 Minutes on CBS, though the network says it will air portions of the interview tonight on the evening news. “We don't trot out this stuff as trophies,” Obama said in the interview.

Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, released a statement today opposing publicly sharing the photos, saying the risks outweigh the benefits. “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,” he wrote. “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.” [See photos of reactions to Osama bin Laden's death.]

The gruesome nature of the photos as well as the possibility of the images becoming propaganda or a recruiting tool for terrorist leaders, also likely contributed to the decision.

As U.S. News blogger Susan Milligan writes:

What would be the purpose of releasing a photo? Would it really reassure Americans that bin Laden is really dead? Or would it just provoke a new wave of conspiracy theories about doctored photos and lies? There are people, remarkably, who still don’t believe Obama was born in Hawaii, despite indisputable evidence to the contrary. Why would a picture of a dead bin Laden be any more effective? At best, it would give some satisfaction to those of us who want to see the face of hate bloodied and lifeless. At worst, it will incite would-be terrorists around the world.

What do you think? Is Obama right not to release post-mortem Osama bin Laden photos? Take the poll and post your thoughts below.

-- Mallie Jane Kim

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.

Previously: Should the U.S. release a photo of Osama bin Laden’s body?