It’s an interesting question, and one that’s only beginning to be asked: Should the US release photos of bin Laden dead? I had wondered yesterday why no proof was being offered that the guy we got really was bin Laden. We’ve seen none. Not just to ensure that the hunt is really over, but also to stop all sorts of conspiracy theories popping up across the world. Little did I suspect that right-wingers, and at least one sad left-winger, would also join the “deather” bandwagon. More from the Washington Post:
U.S. personnel washed, wrapped and prayed over the body of Osama bin Laden before dumping it off an aircraft carrier and into the Arabian Sea. But even as the Obama administration worked to avoid offending Muslim sensibilities over the manner of bin Laden’s burial, it stopped short of releasing visual or forensic proof that he had, in fact, been killed.
John Brennan, President Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, said the government had not decided when or whether it would make public photographs taken of bin Laden after he was gunned down at his hideout in Pakistan. He suggested that officials were still balancing whether the images were more likely to inflame public sentiment around the world or to erase doubts that bin Laden was really dead.
“We are going to do everything we can to make sure that nobody has any basis to try to deny that we got Osama bin Laden,” Brennan told reporters.
According to the Post article, the US confirmed bin Laden’s identity with photos (hardly dispositive), DNA evidence (good), and identification by one of his wives (again, hardly dispositive, one assumes friends and family were told to lie about the identity of any “doubles” that were caught).
The problem with releasing photos? According to the article, they’re pretty gruesome. And I’m sure no one wants to enrage the “Arab street”. And it’s true, photos of a dead bin Laden probably would incite some folks even more.
Still, it’s hard understanding why no evidence at all is being offered. How about at least the DNA evidence? DNA data can’t be that top secret. Something. Or at least get some outside academics to review the data and confirm it. I doubt the conspiracy nuts will ever be happy with any proof, but something still feels better than nothing.