The debate over whether to release photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse is apparently over--and the White House has decided not to.
President Obama tells CBS he will not release the photographic evidence of the 9/11 mastermind's death. The president is being interviewed by Steve Kroft today for the episode of 60 Minutes set to air Sunday.
The White House had been weighing the release of a photo, in part to offer proof that bin Laden was killed during a raid on his compound early Monday; however, officials had cautioned that the photo was gruesome and could inflame anti-U. S. rhetoric.
"We don't trot out this stuff as trophies," said the president.
Patrick Moton of Atlanta, a Marine Corps veteran of Desert Storm, is in favor of keeping the photographs private. He says to release them could damage the sometimes-tenuous relationships the American troops build while on the ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan--and possibly increase the potential danger against them.
"One of the most crucial things for the troops on the ground in the Middle East is to maintain their relationships with the local communities, with the clerics, with the sheiks," says Moton. "It enables them to gather intel on al-Qaeda, to help them form a government of their own. They have to have that trust to get anything done. If there's something that is interpreted in those pictures as being disrespectful of Islam, their religious traditions, or it seems as if the United States has mistreated that body in a way that [the Americans] don't care about the relationships that those people have with their religion, then they're not going to trust the United States. They're not going to feel like they're there as their partner, but that they're there as an occupying force."
Republican Mike Rogers, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has seen a picture of the corpse--and he said Wednesday that the White House should not release it because the risks outweight the benefits.
He added, "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."
Rogers also points out that conspiracy theorists won't be persuaded no matter what the U.S. does.
The photos have been described by several sources as gruesome. They say one picture shows part of bin Laden's skull blown off.
A Pentagon official said bin Laden received a swift burial at sea in accordance with Islamic tradition, which states that the body must be buried within 24 hours to honor the Prophet Muhammad, and should not be cremated or embalmed. The U. S. government also revealed that it would have been tough to find a foreign country willing to accept the remains of the world's most-wanted man within the needed time frame.
The Pentagon says the body was sunk the waters of the northern Arabian Sea after adhering to traditional Islamic procedures--including washing the corpse--aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.