White House mulls the release of bin Laden photos

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

This has been an on-going story for the last 24 hours.   On CNN (TV version) they quoted someone complaining that they didn’t think it was appropriate for children to see pictures of a dead person on the front page of the local newspaper, as if our freedom of information must now be restricted to the level of a third grader.

So after killing the guy in a raid, they are concerned that releasing pictures might actually inflame tensions.  Excuse the hell out of me, but compared to  killing the guy, releasing the pictures seems pretty friggin’ trival from the moral perspective.

In a world where pictures of a naked women is considered the equivalent of rape, this fits in quite well.

What really galls me is the arrogant position permeating this debate that American’s need to be shielded from the gruesome truth for their own good.  In my humble opinion, if we don’t have the fortitude to see what they’ve done, then they probably had no business doing it.

[Posted by Dave Krueger]


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65 Responses to “White House mulls the release of bin Laden photos”

  1. #1 |  boomshanka | 

    Don’t you people think that *maybe* we need to let everyone calm down a bit and consider the consequences before they release the photo? A lot of people all over the world are extremely emotional about bin Laden’s death, whether elated or angry, and we don’t need people making rash decisions at a pivotal moment in the fight against al qaeda and in the wars in Afghanistan and now Pakistan.

    I’m hoping that his death provides the closure to diffuse tensions and deescalate the war in Afghanistan, and I think it’s in the country’s best interest to wait until people (including our enemies) are thinking a little more clearly. Would libertarians really rather this event become a flashpoint that leads to more violence and more war?

    I’m all for exposing government secrets, and believe they should release the photo at some point in the not-so-distant future, but let’s take a fucking breath and think of the real world consequences, rather than rigid adherence to your ideology.

  2. #2 |  boomshanka | 

    Dave, I agree that so far the administration has done a horrible job attempting to use bin Laden’s death for propaganda purposes, but it makes me believe that they need to STFU before they blow this thing.

  3. #3 |  xysmith | 

    We should be able to ask for, and receive, the photos for the reason that the government demands proof of death of us. You cannot just bury your deceased family member in the back yard. You have to report it to the authorities, a death certificate will be issued, they may investigate the circumstances, etc. As near as possible we have the right to have the same level of information about actions taken by the people who we have chosen to represent and act for us.

    In a similar vein, I think that all elected officials should be finger printed, DNA sampled, photographed, weighed, etc. Also anyone in a position serving more than twenty-thousand people (mayors of large cities, all federal positions) should undergo medical screening, regular and random drug tests, psychological tests, cognitive ability exams and the like. Every one of them should have to present a birth certificate and any other documentation necessary to provide proof of eligibility.

  4. #4 |  MikeZ | 

    “This just in: corpses are inanimate objects. How we treat them says as much about us as how we treat a couch, except that most couches aren’t also biohazards … Pictures like this should be on the front page of every paper, every day, as long as we are still fighting a war. The cost to both sides should be abundantly clear.”

    Personally I agree, but I’d say that 90% of the rest of the world isn’t that logical. Please go ask a parent of someone who died for our country whether they think it would be a good idea to place a raw photo of their corpse in every newspaper. I’m not sure they’d buy the couch theory. I certainly agree it would be a great reminder to the rest of us of the price we are paying for these wars, but I’m inclined to abide by the families wishes after all their son just died for us. (On the other hand we should be showing closed casket photos of EVERY single soldier and for the small number of casualties we have sustained I think an obituary of every soldier in the paper/news should be there as well.

  5. #5 |  André | 

    I can’t think of a coherent position that would have favoured releasing the Abu Ghraib pictures but is opposed to a photo of UBL’s corpse being released.

    (Partisanship doesn’t count.)

  6. #6 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #52 xysmith

    In a similar vein, I think that all elected officials should be finger printed, DNA sampled, photographed, weighed, etc. Also anyone in a position serving more than twenty-thousand people (mayors of large cities, all federal positions) should undergo medical screening, regular and random drug tests, psychological tests, cognitive ability exams and the like.

    Well, hell the cognitive ability exams alone would almost certainly force an immediate turnover of at least 95% of elected offices.

  7. #7 |  boomshanka | 

    @54 Andre

    One event exposed ongoing abuse and war crimes against POW’s in our custody, in the attempt to end them. Our interest in releasing Abu Ghraib photos outweighed the possible negative consequences. The other event involves Osama fucking bin Laden. Emotions are magnified 1000 fold, and we should exercise greater caution.

  8. #8 |  mme6546 | 

    I lurk, and was undecided/leaning toward cackalacka’s POV, but this bears repeating:

    John Jenkins-
    Pictures like this should be on the front page of every paper, every day, as long as we are still fighting a war. The cost to both sides should be abundantly clear. Once you’ve taken the decision that people deserve to die, and that you’re willing to risk the lives of others to make that happen, you shouldn’t get to go hide in a corner while they die and pretend that death isn’t terrible. If we can’t handle it, then we shouldn’t be fighting a damn war in the first place.

    this, to me, is truth.

  9. #9 |  Alex | 

    “I know that we’ve desensitized ourselves tremendously over the past generation”
    It wasn’t that many generations ago that doctors advised mothers not to get to close to their children, because they were likely going to die. We are NOT anything like the most desensitized generation.

  10. #10 |  JS | 

    Dave Kreuger “And, our willingness to permit others to confront that reality without deciding for them what is permissible for them to see “speaks volumes of what kind of people we are”

    I think this kind of government paternalism is the bigger issue. The “Oh we don’t want to inflame hatred” thing is obviously ridiculous. Especially after we just killed Gaddafi’s son and grandchildren.

  11. #11 |  Stick | 

    “White House mulls the release of bin Laden photos”
    Maybe they need time to clean out the basement where they filmed the moon landings to make a mock up of Bin Ladens home for the photo shoot.
    (I’m trying to be funny)

  12. #12 |  André | 

    mme6546:

    The closest example I can think of: The cover of Time a couple of months back was an Afghan girl who had her nose cut off (ears too, but you can’t see), and the title is “What Happens if we Leave Afghanistan”.

    http://img.timeinc.net/time/daily/2010/1007/time_cover_0809.jpg

    It’s not quite the same. Actually, it’s a news organization using “shocking” imagery to drum up support for an unpopular war. And technically speaking, the girl’s nose was also cut off while the U.S. was occupying and nation-building in Afghanistan.

  13. #13 |  Strange | 

    “So after killing the guy in a raid, they are concerned that releasing pictures might actually inflame tensions. Excuse the hell out of me, but compared to killing the guy, releasing the pictures seems pretty friggin’ trival from the moral perspective.”

    The aftermath from image releases in Fallujah (hung contractors) and Abu Ghraib should inform.

  14. #14 |  Marcus | 

    @MPH

    You posted:
    ““The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It’s like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can’t have steak..”
    – Robert Heinlein”

    Cute quote, but has nothing to do with what is going on. The government is not stopping some outside content provider from providing content.

  15. #15 |  Marcus | 

    I get the sense from some of these comments that the posters would be upset no matter what the President/Government decided to do in this situation.

    I personally do not care to see the photos, but am a bit ambivalent about whether they are released or not. As some one previously pointed out, the worst they could do is cause terrorist groups to try more attacks, best they could do?

    As far as “proof” goes. If you believe that the Pres would get on TV and say, we got Bin Laden to the world if it was not true, you need to reevaluate your “thought” process. Again, look at the upside and downside, and how easy it would be to prove that he was lying.

    Imagine what would happen if:

    OBL released a tape with him holding a newspaper declaring his death?
    The military/Navy/Seals came out and said there was no raid/kill?
    Someone from the Presidents cabinet stating it was all fabricated?

    The risk of any of those happening would have to be 0 for the Pres to announce his death.

    This comes down to “I do not like the Pres therefore whatever he does is wrong.”.