Archive for Thursday, May 5, 2011

Obama: Releasing bin Laden photos ‘not who we are’

May 5, 2011


— President Barack Obama ordered grisly photographs of Osama bin Laden in death sealed from public view on Wednesday, declaring, “We don’t need to spike the football” in triumph after this week’s daring middle-of-the-night raid. The terrorist leader was killed by American commandos who burst into his room and feared he was reaching for a nearby weapon, U.S. officials said.

Several weapons were found in the room where the terror chief died, including AK-47 assault rifles and side arms, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they offered the most recent in a series of increasingly detailed and sometimes-shifting accounts of bin Laden’s final minutes after a decade on the run.

Obama said releasing the photographs taken by the Navy SEAL raiders was “not who we are” as a country. Though some may deny his death, “the fact of the matter is you will not see bin Laden walking this earth again,” the president said in an interview taped for CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

He said any release of the photos could become a propaganda tool for bin Laden’s adherents eager to incite violence.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president’s decision applied to photographs of bin Laden, said to show a portion of his skull blown away from a gunshot wound to the area of his left eye, as well as to a video recording of his burial several hours later in the North Arabian Sea.

The president made no public remarks during the day about the raid, apart from the taped interview. But he arranged a visit for today to ground zero in Manhattan, where the World Trade Center twin towers once stood.

After two days of shifting accounts of the dramatic raid, Carney said he would no longer provide details of the 40-minute operation by the team of elite Navy SEALs. That left unresolved numerous mysteries, prominent among them an exact accounting of bin Laden’s demise. Officials have said he was unarmed but resisted when an unknown number of commandos burst into his room inside the high-security compound.

The officials who gave the latest details said a U.S. commando grabbed a woman who charged toward the SEALs inside the room. They said the raiders were concerned that she might be wearing a suicide vest.

Administration officials have said bin Laden’s body was identified by several means, including a DNA test. Members of Congress who received a briefing during the day said a sample from the body killed at the compound in Pakistan was compared to known DNA from bin Laden’s mother and three sons.

After two days of speculation about releasing the photographs, there was no detectable public debate in the U.S. about the merits of the raid itself against the man behind the terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.

Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress the operation was “entirely lawful and consistent with our values” and justified as “an action of national self-defense.” Noting that bin Laden had admitted his involvement in the events of nearly a decade ago, he said, “It’s lawful to target an enemy commander in the field.”

Holder also said the team that carried out the raid had been trained to take bin Laden alive if he was willing to surrender. “It was a kill-or-capture mission,” he said. “He made no attempt to surrender.”

Bin Laden had evaded capture for nearly a decade, and officials said he had currency as well as two telephone numbers sewn into his clothing when he was killed, suggesting he was prepared to leave his surroundings on a moment’s notice if he sensed danger.

Administration officials said the two dozen SEALs involved in the operation were back at their home base outside Virginia Beach, Va., and the extensive debriefing they underwent was complete. Saluted as heroes nationwide, they remained publicly unidentified because of security concerns.

In addition to bin Laden’s body, the SEALs helicoptered out of the compound with computer files, flash drives, DVDs and documents that intelligence officials have begun analyzing in hopes the information will help them degrade or destroy the network bin Laden left behind.

In New York today, Carney said, Obama will lay a wreath at the World Trade Center site and hold a private meeting with relatives of some of the victims of the attacks, in which jetliners hijacked by terrorists were flown into the side of first one tower, then the other.

The buildings collapsed within minutes, dooming office workers as well as rescuers who had run in hoping to save them.

A few days later, then-President George W. Bush stood amid the rubble and spoke through a bullhorn. When one worker yelled, “I can’t hear you,” the president responded, “I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”

A decade — and long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan later — Obama said he had no intention of gloating.

Obama’s decision not to release any photographs was unlikely to be the final word, though.

Some members of Congress have been shown at least one photo of bin Laden, and others have asked to see it, an indication of the intense interest generated by the raid.

The Associated Press on Monday requested through the Freedom of Information Act photos of bin Laden’s body as well as other materials, including video taken by military personnel during the raid and on the USS Carl Vinson, the ship that conducted bin Laden’s burial at sea. The government has 20 days to respond.

Some family members of those who died in the 9/11attacks have pressed to have the photographs released to document bin Laden’s death, as have some skeptics in the Arab world. But many lawmakers and others expressed concern that the photographic images could be seen as a “trophy” that would inflame U.S. critics and make it harder for members of the American military deployed overseas to do their jobs.

Obama said he had discussed his decision with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates “and my intelligence teams, and they all agree.”

Despite fears of revenge attacks, officials have yet to raise the national threat level.

The disclosure that bin Laden was living in relative comfort inside Pakistan in Abbottabad has provoked some administration officials and lawmakers to question the Pakistani government’s commitment to the decade-long search for the terrorist leader.

Publicly, Pakistan issued a statement on Monday taking the U.S. to task for an “unauthorized unilateral action” that “cannot be taken as a rule.”

But privately, according to one official, Pakistani Army chief Ashfaq Kayani offered congratulations when Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called to inform him after the operation, and urged a public release of the news. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the conversation.

The White House also announced Obama would visit Fort Campbell, Ky., on Friday to greet troops returning from Afghanistan, which the United States attacked in 2001 after its leaders refused to turn over members of the al-Qaida leadership living there.


Maddy Griffin 7 years ago

Great decision. This is our President trying to lift us up. If we want to be the greatest nation on earth again, we must act like it. I don't need a Dead Bin Laden mouse pad. Eventually those photos will be "leaked" anyway.Why incite more violence? Americans are better than that. We should ALL lend him a hand. I'm glad he's taking the higher road. That One 2012!

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

In other news, demand for Flavor-Ade remains high in certain sectors of the population.

geekin_topekan 7 years ago

Hey deac, Your guy lost. Get over it.

geekin_topekan 7 years ago

"I am thankful he can tell me who I am" ++++ Curious statement. Please expand.

whats_going_on 7 years ago

He or she is just whining because Obama said it's "not who we are" and they can't think of anything better to complain about.

I like that he is taking the high road. There is absolutely no reason to put out those photos. It does not do ANYONE any good. I don't want my future children looking at those and wondering why we are so "happy" about such violence. Stooping to the terrorist level. No bueno.

Liberty275 7 years ago

He certainly knew how to put bombs in drop ceilings. They are sort of high.

TheYetiSpeaks 7 years ago

"There is absolutely no reason to put out those photos. It does not do ANYONE any good."

Apparently you had no loved ones die on 9-11.....I'm happy for you, but if you had, perhaps you might see it from a different perspective.

Liberty275 7 years ago

"not who we are"

He knows who we are dude. He knows we don't really care about transparency as long as he say's it during the campaign.

georgeofwesternkansas 7 years ago

First they said they watched the raid happen real time. Now they are saying the feed was down during the assult inside the house. First they said UBL had a gun, Now they say he didn't.

Right or wrong they killed this guy in cold blood, and are running fast and hard away from any facts. I really don't care, but them I have no objection of waterboarding.

Amy Heeter 7 years ago

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Amy Heeter 7 years ago

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Amy Heeter 7 years ago

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jhawkinsf 7 years ago

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. Your links show pictures of mass murders, both foreign and domestic that were then executed, by our government, foreign governments and in the case of Hitler, self inflicted. What's your point? The link showing Wounded Knee might be making some point as to what we are, but when combined with the others, I have no idea what you're saying.

Amy Heeter 7 years ago

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Amy Heeter 7 years ago

now some are offended by reality. Three must be something in the photos that we should not see. If there even are photos. I'm not with Trump or Ron Paul on this but historically we are we are who we are. Obama in office can't change what had already happened.

Amy Heeter 7 years ago

And yes they were all murderers as was Bin Laden. Again are we what we are in some cases but not in others? I have to question if Bin Laden really is dead. He had eluded authorities for more than a decade. What is in,those photos that our leader does not want us to see? The point of cold blooded murderers not being a good point is moot in light of our need for proof. As I told Whitney in a message it does not thrill me to see a corpse, however proof of death would go a long way in easing the minds of those effected by his violent actions.

yourworstnightmare 7 years ago

It us not who most (hopefully) of us are, and it is not who we should be.

Think about it. The eye-shot face of Bin Laden across every newspaper in the country. This is different than other gruesome photos of war or murder. Bin Laden was public enemy #1, and releasing his photo and having it printed in every medium would have been too much like parading around an enemy's head on a pike, or dragging the burned body of an enemy through the streets.

We are not Afghanistan or Pakistan or Libya or Iran. We are the United States of America, the greatest country in the world and the epitome of civilization. We must act like it.

madameX 7 years ago

I'm calling in right now: the "Bin Laden's not really dead" conspiricy theorists are going to be the new birthers and the Bin Laden death photos and going to be the new birth certificate. I think it's pretty doggone stupid, but I predict that's what will happen.

My question is, what would be acomplished by releasing the photos? He's not any more dead just because you've seen a picture, and he's not any less dead if you haven't. Assuming you're not one of the aforemetioned conspiricy theorists. The restraint displayed by not releasing the photos is not going to bring any extremists around to our side, sure, but releasing the photos could easily be twisted around by extremists and portrayed as gloating by the US (not that that would be accurate at all, but it wouldn't have to be, would it?) and used as recruting tool. Is it wise to give them that ammo if we don't have anything significant to gain by it?

Fixed_Asset 7 years ago

I agree Madame - pretty doggoned stupid, but those questioning the validity of his death are, well, just stupid.
Would there be a similar reaction if this had happened when Bush was in office? I wonder.

somedude20 7 years ago

Meet the new deathers same as the old birthers. "The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him." - G.W. Bush, 9/13/01 "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." - G.W. Bush, 3/13/02 "I am truly not that concerned about him." - G.W. Bush, repsonding to a question about bin Laden's whereabouts, 3/13/02 (The New American, 4/8/02) No hate for Bush when this was said...Obama orders his military leaders to take Bin L out and he catches heat for it Race is M...we truly do know who you are and it is still quite sad

Fred Whitehead Jr. 7 years ago

Bottom line:

Osama GONE!!

Obama WON!!!

Get over it Trump, Palin, Tea Baggers, Wing-nuts, the whole whiny disgusting crowd.

ferrislives 7 years ago

Wow, naive much? All politicians think politically, regardless of their side.

If GWB had caught Bin Laden, do you think that he and his cohorts would not think politically? If not, I have some great land down in the Florida everglades to sell you.

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

Why do links to a site discussing the ever-changing WH story on the OBL whackjob keep getting disappeareded?

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