The president announced yesterday that he won’t be releasing photographs on Osama bin Laden’s corpse after all, claiming that their publication might be seen as “gloating” in the Arab world. The U.S., he told reporters in an interview to air on 60 Minutes on Sunday, doesn’t need to appear “to spike the football.”
So how does Obama think the world is receiving the news that many of the details his administration originally shared about the raid that killed bin Laden were wrong or exaggerated? Numerous sources have been debunked the claim of a prolonged firefight. Although accounts differ as to how many people inside the compound were armed, most agree there was at best one, and that individual reportedly offered no resistance.
A senior Defense Department spokesman speaking on condition of anonymity is confirming the new “official” administration version of events, which suggest that a lone shooter was killed in the early minutes of the assault. On the question of whether bin Laden was armed, the White House is citing the “fog of war” as a reason for initial misinformation. The conventional wisdom today is that he was not.
On top of this, reports are surfacing that American forces took one person from the compound who was still alive—possibly one of bin Laden’s sons. Why was there been no word from Washington confirming or refuting the accuracy of this claim? And if it is true, who and where is the captive?
As to withholding the pictures, there is some justification for the White House’s concern that releasing them will stir hostilities among Muslims. At the same time, the entire raison d’être of the ground assault, which risked the lives of American service personnel and treasure, was to provide proof that they had nabbed Public Enemy Number One.
The most tangible evidence of the kill was dumped into the Arabian Sea, following a respectful religious service, within 24 hours of the raid. The photos are now all Obama has left to convince skeptics. He should make them available at once.
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