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Last week the White House announced President Barack Obama would not release a photo of slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Officials cited safety concerns and said there was fear the image could be used to incite more violence.
I headed out to the Internet to see what people thought. Using our Facebook page, I posed, “President Obama has said photos of dead bin Laden won’t be made public. Did he make the right call?”
More than 100 people responded. With 62 votes, most said he had made the wrong call and that the American public had the right to see the photo.
Twenty-six people agreed with the decision, saying it could cause retaliation and endanger the public and troops. Another 19 also agreed the president made the right call and believed no one needed to see that image.
What do you think? Do you think viewing a photo of dead bin Laden would make the threat of retaliation any worse than it already is?
I don’t think so.
To those who would wish to do the United States, its citizens and allies harm, the iconic status of bin Laden, whether he is dead or alive, pictured or not, is enough to inspire those who would do harm to do so.
Osama bin Laden in name alone is enough to drive people to not only kill innocent others, but also themselves, in support of whatever evil cause they feel just enough to die for.
I don’t understand how a blood-soaked, or even mutilated image, is going to make that better or worse.
Reuters news service released photos last week of some of the people killed during the raid inside the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad.
The pictures were taken by a security official from Pakistan after the raid in which U.S. armed forced killed bin Laden on Sunday, May 1.
The associated story on the Reuters website has a warning at the top, indicating graphic images are included.
Some of the photos include images of the left-behind U.S. helicopter as well as the outside of the bin Laden compound. Several clicks deeper into the slideshow reveal the first image of an unidentified man killed in the raid.
He is shown on his back, dressed in a white T-shirt, surrounded by a pool of blood coming from what appears to be an unseen head wound. More blood comes from his ear.
The second image is of another man, his eyes partially open, also in a pool of blood with blood across his face and coming from his mouth.
The third man photographed is much the same.
Anyone who has turned on the television or watched a movie in say, oh, the last 10 years, has seen worse. Much, much worse.
But why would anyone want to look at these horrific images? These were, whether you believe them to be evil or not, human beings. Why would anyone want to look at them in death?
Because it’s an important part of our history and its depth and magnitude must be studied and analyzed in word, video and photo to fully capture its intensity.
It should be viewed. It should be seared into the minds of all of us so, just like the images of 9/11, we never forget.
No one shielded me from what I would say are far more horrific images—videos and photos of Americans—living, breathing Americans—jumping from the World Trade Center towers following the Sept. 11 attacks.
No one shielded me from old images of the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, famine and death in Africa, drowned, swollen bodies in New Orleans after Katrina, or dead bodies following natural disasters in Indonesia and Japan.
They’re all part of the story of our human lives.
They’re ugly. They’re painful. They’re sometimes gross, but they are real. They are history. They are part of my history on this planet.
Why then does my government, my president, think he has the right to keep the image(s) of Osama bin Laden from me?
Were not the lives of American soldiers put on the line to save this world from bin Laden? Didn’t American taxpayer dollars—my taxpayer dollars—fund this mission, its equipment, its intelligence and investigation?
Why do I not deserve to see this photo as we have so many more heartbreaking images of death and murder?
This is my America; this is my land of the free, too. You, my government, should have no right to tell me what is too graphic, or too great, or too painful, for me to see.
When terrorists react from bin Laden’s death and carry out his ideology as they lift him up in martyrdom, will you expend as much energy to keep me and my fellow Americans safe?
Release the photos.
America—and the rest of the world—has the right to see.