Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Obama Declines to Release Dead bin Laden Photos

It was just a little too much in-your-face for President Obama, as he explained his reasons today behind declining to release a photo of a dead Osama bin Laden.

Obama handed down his decision on whether the picture should go public in an interview this afternoon with  Steve Kroft CBS' "60 Minutes." White House press secretary Jay Carney read part of the transcript from that interview at his daily briefing. Here is a transcript of that segment of the briefing:
Carney: The President was asked about how they knew it was him. And he said:

The President: When they landed, we had very strong confirmation at that point that it was him.  Photographs had been taken. Facial analysis indicated that, in fact, it was him. We hadn't yet done DNA testing, but at that point we were 95-percent sure.

Question: Did you see the pictures?

 The President: Yes.

 Question: What was your reaction when you saw them?

 The President: It was him.

 Question: Why didn't you release them?

 The President: We discussed this internally. Keep in mind that we are absolutely certain that this was him. We've done DNA sampling and testing, and so there is no doubt that we killed Osama bin Laden. It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody 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. The fact of the matter is, this was somebody who was deserving of the -- 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.

Question: There are people in Pakistan for example, who say, look, this is all a lie.  Obama, this is another American trick. Osama is not dead. 

The President: The truth is that we were monitoring world -- that we are 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 doubt -- no doubt among al Qaeda members that he is dead. And so we don't think that a photograph in and of itself is going to make any difference. There are going to be some folks who deny it. The fact of the matter is, you will not see bin Laden walking on this Earth again.

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