As you’ve probably heard, President Obama told “60 Minutes” he will not release the post-mortem images of Osama bin Laden.
There may be very legitimate reasons for not releasing these graphic photos, including the desire not to incite radical Muslims.
The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder and Matthew Cooper also posit a more political rationale:
Though the White House won’t say it, not releasing the photos means that the images one associates with the death of bin Laden are those of Obama making the announcement and Obama and team waiting in the Situation Room. Not releasing the photos helps Obama own this event even more.
But while there may be good reasons for withholding these pictures, not showing the photos might encourage conspiracy theorists to question or deny OBL’s death. On the heels of Obama revealing his long-form birth certificate, this is not an absurd theory. The public is much less trusting of government than it used to be (in some cases, there are valid reasons for this).
There is also the argument that the families of the victims of 9-11 deserve to see the proof.
Ultimately, though, I do not question the wisdom of Obama wanting to withhold the pictures (what good could come from it?) — but I do question how realistic it is — in this modern era — to withhold this sort of information away from the public.
The era of keeping things like this private is over. Things leak out — and the public demands transparency. I find it hard to believe Obama will be able to keep these pictures from the American public.