On May 2, 2011, the US Navy SEALs performed an operation that led to the assassination of Osama bin Laden. There are photos of his body, but they have not been released to the American public, despite many people’s requests to the contrary. However, there are many good reasons to not release the images. The photos of Osama bin Laden should not be released, due to their gruesome nature, the insensitivity of the act, and the absolute lack of political gain.
The image of Osama bin Laden’s death is too gruesome for the average viewer. According to reports by those who have viewed the photos, the images features bin Laden with “a massive head wound above his left eye, and his brains and blood are visible” (Flock, 2011). The result of the attack left a bloodied corpse that makes bin Laden barely identifiable, and many who view the photo would be visibly discomforted.
The act of releasing the photos would be incredibly insensitive to the death of a human being. Despite the fact that he was a mass murderer who orchestrated the most crippling attacks on American soil to date, the release of the photos would merely glorify his death in much the same way that extremists celebrated the success of 9/11. The American people should be better than that, and therefore they should treat the killing of Osama bin Laden with the proper reverence and respect.
There is no strategic or political advantage to be gained by releasing the photos of Osama bin Laden. The release of the photos would not create any sort of tactical advantage in the fight against terrorism, and it could potentially anger other countries, as well as Muslim extremists and terrorist organizations. It could potentially anger them into action, making it double necessary to be discreet about the bin Laden operation.
There are those who believe they need the closure to 9/11 by seeing the villain of the operation dead – they have very strong emotions about the event, and therefore want to know that justice has been served. However, that is an unhealthy way to treat the situation, and it is not worth the potential political backlash to satisfy the emotional needs of a select few. Others have doubts that bin Laden is dead, and the photos would be visual proof; however, members of Congress have all seen the photos, and have informed the American people that they are legitimate (Farber and Madison, 2011). Also, Osama bin Laden would have already shown himself if he was actually still alive; the fact he has not lends credence to the legitimacy of the photos.
In conclusion, the photos of Osama bin Laden should not be released. The photos are visibly offensive, and might disgust viewers. If the photos were released, it would do a disservice to a man who, while evil, was murdered. The only reason people want the photos released is to either have visible verification that Osama is dead or celebrate the man’s death – they doubt Obama’s ability to lead and want proof that the operation actually occurred (Rodgers, 2011). Finally, nothing about the release of the photos helps with the continued strategy to fight terrorism, nor does it help smooth over any shaky foreign relations. With these things in mind, the United States government should keep the bin Laden death photos under wraps.
Farber, Dan, and Lucy Madison. “Bachmann, other lawmakers see bin Laden photos; convinced “we got our man” – Political Hotsheet – CBS News.” Breaking News Headlines: Business, Entertainment & World News – CBS News. N.p., 12 May 2011. Web. 29 May 2011. <http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20062269-503544.html>.
Flock, Elizabeth. “Osama bin Laden DNA confirms death, but photos are fake – BlogPost – The Washington Post.” The Washington Post. N.p., 2 May 2011. Web. 29 May 2011. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/osama-bin-laden-dna-confirms-death-but-photos-are-fake-should-white-house-release-actual-photos/2011/05/02/AFez6naF_blog.html>.
Rodgers, Walter. “The lie that Obama can’t lead is crumbling.” gulfnews. N.p., 29 May 2011. Web. 29 May 2011. <http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/the-lie-that-obama-can-t-lead-is-crumbling-1.814552>.