Obama On Not Releasing Bin Laden Death Photos: We Don’t Need To Spike The Football
CBS News has released the portion of his upcoming 60 Minutes where he explains his decision not to release the photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse:
In an interview with Steve Kroft for this Sunday’s “60 Minutes” conducted today, President Obama said he won’t release post-mortem images of Osama bin Laden taken to prove his death.
“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,” said the president.
“We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies,” Mr. Obama added. “The fact of the matter is, this is somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received.”
The president said he had discussed the issue with his intelligence team, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and that they agree with the decision. White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that Mr. Obama made the decision today.
In explaining his choice not to release the photo, Mr. Obama said that “we don’t need to spike the football.” He said that “given the graphic nature of these photos it would create a national security risk.”
The president told Kroft he saw the photos following the raid on the compound and knew that bin Laden had been killed.
“We discussed this internally,” he said. “Keep in mind that 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.”
When Kroft noted that there are people in Pakistan and elsewhere who believe bin Laden is still alive, the president said “we we monitoring worldwide reaction.”
“There is no doubt that Osama bin Laden is dead,” he said. “Certainly there is no doubt among al Qaeda members that he is dead. So we don’t think that a photograph in and of itself is going to make any difference.”
“There are going to be some folks who deny it,” he added. “The fact of the matter is, you will not see bin Laden walking on this earth again.”
Here’s the full transcript:
STEVE KROFT: Did you see the pictures?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yes.
KROFT: What was your reaction when you saw them?
OBAMA: It was him.
KROFT: Why haven’t you released them?
OBAMA: You know, we discussed this internally. Keep in mind that we are absolutely certain this was him. We’ve done DNA sampling and testing. And so there is no doubt that we killed Osama bin Laden. It is important for us 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. As a propaganda tool. You know, that’s not who we are. You know, we don’t trot out this stuff as trophies. You know, the fact of the matter is this was somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received. And I think– Americans and people around the world are glad that he’s gone. But we don’t need to spike the football. And I think that given the graphic nature of these photos, it would create some national security risk. And I’ve discussed this with Bob Gates and Hillary Clinton and my intelligence teams and they all agree.
KROFT: There are people in Pakistan, for example, who say, “Look, this is all a lie. Obama, this is another American trick. Osama’s not dead.”
OBAMA: You know, the truth is that and we — we’re monitoring worldwide reaction. There’s no doubt that Bin Laden is dead. Certainly there’s no doubt among al Qaeda members that he is dead. And so we don’t think that a photograph in and of itself is going to make any difference. There are going be some folks who deny it. The fact of the matter is, you will not see bin Laden walking on this Earth again.
So, what do you think?
Personally, I have no great need to see the photographs and given the fact that Osama bin Laden’s daughter, who was there when the raid went down, has verified that he is in fact dead, I don’t think there’s any real concern that there will be a mass movement of “Deathers” in the Muslim world. Will some people doubt that he’s dead, or doubt the official story? Yea, but that’s going to be true of any major story and, as we’ve learned with the birthers, there isn’t very much we can do about that. So, not releasing the photo because of a concern that doing so would reflect badly on the United States and possibly endanger our soldiers, then maybe that’s the right decision to make. This would seem to be especially true when the only value of releasing the photos would be to gloat.