President Obama will not release photos of Osama bin Laden taken after his death, CBS News
In an interview with CBS’ Steve Kroft taped for Sunday’s 60 Minutes program, the president says he did not see benefits to the release.
Obama told CBS, "it is important to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool," he said. "We don't trot out this stuff as trophies. The fact of the matter is, this is somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received."
The president said there were intense discussions on the matter with his team, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and that they agree with the decision.
Obama also said that "we don't need to spike the football." He said that "given the graphic nature of the photo it would create national security risk."
The president told Kroft there was no doubt bin Laden was killed. "We discussed this internally," he said. "Keep in mind, we are absolutely certain that this was him. We've done DNA sampling and testing. And so there is no doubt that we killed Osama bin Laden."
Some of the president’s comments will be aired tonight on CBS "Evening News.”
The debate over the photos' release has raged among administration officials and those in Congress.
Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers urged the administration to hold off releasing photos, saying it created additional dangers for our troops and national security. Rogers says he has seen the photo.
"The risks of release outweigh the benefits," he told CBS. "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 Qaida 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."
Two Republican senators -- Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, a member of the Armed Services Committee - told CBS News Wednesday they had seen post-mortem photographs of bin Laden.
NBC reporter Savannah Guthrie also reported that the White House had decided not to release the photos.
Guthrie said White House officials have told her that the photos are too gruesome, including brain matter and a large amount of blood.
One of the reasons that U.S. special forces buried the world's No. 1 terrorist at sea was to avoid turning a burial site into a shrine to the al-Qaida chieftan who masterminded the 9/11 slaughter of nearly 3,000 people.
As debate swirled over whether to release the photos, some had noted that the photos would create iconic images advancing the murderer as a martyr for terror.
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