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Fearing Violence, Obama Vetoes Laden Pix Release

Washington, May 5: The US will not trot out the “gruesome” images of slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden with a bullet hole in his head as “trophies” because it feared that it will incite

PTI [ Updated: May 05, 2011 18:11 IST ]
fearing violence obama vetoes laden pix release
fearing violence obama vetoes laden pix release

Washington, May 5: The US will not trot out the “gruesome” images of slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden with a bullet hole in his head as “trophies” because it feared that it will incite violence and lead to national security risk. 

The decision not to release the pictures was announced by President Barack Obama in an interview to the CBS news which would be telecast on Sunday, his spokesman Jay Carney said.

During the interview, according to Carney, Obama said the decision in this regard was taken following consultations with his top national security advisors including the Defence Secretary Robert Gates, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

During the interview, Obama said there is no doubt that bin Laden was dead and the world would never see him and that the post mortem images on the dead body would not be released.

This is fact which is now known to the world and to his supporters, however, there will still be some who would still not believe this, the President argued. 

“We discussed this internally. Keep in mind that we are absolutely certain that this was him. We've done DNA sampling and testing. So there was no doubt that we killed Osama bin Laden,” Obama was quoted as saying by Carney in the CBS interview.

He added that it was important to make sure that very graphic photos of a man who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool.

“That's not who we are. We don't trot out this stuff as trophies,” Obama said.

“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 is 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,” Obama said, adding that he has seen those pictures. Obama has announced he will not release photos that show Osama with a bullet hole in his head, Reacting to the picture that he saw of bin Laden, Obama said: “It was him”.

When asked about people in Pakistan who consider it a lie or as another American trick, Obama said: “The truth is that we were monitoring world—that we are monitoring—we were monitoring, rather, worldwide reaction. There is no doubt that Osama bin Laden is dead. Certainly, there is no doubt among Al Qaida members that he is dead”. 

He said now that the al Qaeda leader is dead a photograph is not going to make any difference.  Even if there are folks who deny it, the fact of the matter is, bin Laden will not be seen walking on Earth again, Obama said.

Carney had yesterday described the images as “gruesome”.

Carney said as the President described it is not in America's national security interest to allow those images, as has been in the past, been the case, to become icons to rally opinion against the United States.

“The President's number one priority is the safety and security of American citizens at home and Americans abroad.  There is no need to release these photographs to establish Osama bin Laden's identity.

“And he saw no other compelling reason to release them, given the potential for national security risk and, because he believes, as he said so clearly, this is not who we are,” Carney said.

A day earlier, CIA Director Leon Panetta, said that the final decision on whether to release the picture would be taken by the White House.

“The bottom line is that, you know, we got bin Laden and I think we have to reveal to the rest of the world the fact that we were able to get him and kill him,” Panetta said.  Asked about Panetta's claim that a photo would be released, Carney says there's a “compelling argument” for releasing information.

The spokesman said Obama was “engaged” in the discussion.

Republican leader, Sarah Palin, however, demanded that the pictures of Osama bin Laden be released.  “Show photo as warning to others seeking America's destruction. No pussy-footing around, no politicking, no drama; it's part of the mission,” Palin said in a message posted on her Twitter account.

Several lawmakers spoke against the release of the pictures.

“I don't want to make the job of our troops serving in places like Iraq and Afghanistan any harder than it already is. The risks of release outweigh the benefits,” said Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

“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,” he said in a statement.

“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,” Rogers said. PTI

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