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The bin Laden Death Photo Debate

Posted on May 3, 2011
Flickr / ssoosay

White House officials are reportedly hesitant to release a series of “gruesome” photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse and burial at sea. Calls for proof of death are whipping the media into a frenzy, as loved ones of 9/11 victims seek closure and skeptics demand evidence. Reports early Tuesday indicated that at least one photo would be released, but press secretary Jay Carney later said the Obama administration would prefer not to release any of the images. —KDG  


[A] senior U.S. official also says the White House received 3 sets of photos yesterday. The photos included:

1. Photos of OBL’s body at a hangar after he was brought back to Afghanistan. This is the most recognizable with a clear picture of his face. The picture is gruesome because he has a massive open head wound across both eyes. It’s very bloody and gory.

2. Photos from the burial at sea on the USS Carl Vinson. Photos of OBL before the shroud was put on and then wrapped in the shroud.

3. There are photos of the raid itself that include photos of the two dead brothers, one of OBL’s dead son (adult adolescent, maybe approx 18 yrs old) and some of the inside scene of the compound.

The official says the challenge is that the picture that includes the most recognizable image of OBL’s face – from the hangar in Afghanistan – is so gruesome and mangled its not appropriate for say the front page of the newspaper. On the other hand, this is the one that is most identifiable as him.

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, May 4, 2011 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

The USA should follow the lead of Israel in targeted assassinations——just do it and forget it——a fait accompli.  No photos, no updates, no comments and in the end UBL will be no longer be remember much less a symbol.  Burial at sea was a good beginning—-no body—-no shrine.  If he had been captured alive, UBL would have become a one-man circus. but then the talk shows would have enough material to last for years.

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By ad, May 4, 2011 at 4:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Guess what,people?  Tehran Times published a photo of
the head of the dead bin Laden on Monday, 16 May.

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By redipen, May 3, 2011 at 10:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

the ‘coming onslaught ’ will probably be a new wave of false flag terrorism - gotta
keep the war going

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By christian96, May 3, 2011 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment

As the rest of you I have been reading reports and
watching TV coverage of what supposedly happened in
the killing of Osama Bin Laden.  My concerns perhaps
are indictative of yours:
1. First, I don’t understand the sudden need to get
rid of the body. I know the reason offered is to pay
homage to practices of the Muslim faith.  That reasoning is so fallacious I won’t waste any further
time and space on it.
2. Second, I am appalled by the reaction of students
on various campuses.  They were acting like Notre Dame just beat Alabama for the national college football title.  A sad state of affairs which says
volumes about the state of our nation.
3. Third, I am very concerned of the possible reactions of various Islamic terrorist groups.  Did
the way we handle the situation just add fire to an
already boiling pot of violence?  Wouldn’t it have been far more rational to capture Osama Bin Laden alive and try him in a court of law? Or would that have opened a can of worms the leaders of our country
didn’t want to open?
4. Fourth,  with our economy sinking rapidly, was the
situation handled the way it was to justify allocating further funds into the industrial/military complex?
5. Finally, it is my understanding that members of
Osama Bin Laden’s group survived the attack by the
Navy Seals.  How long will it be before the American
public hears the testimonies of these individuals?

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By TDoff, May 3, 2011 at 6:37 pm Link to this comment

rico, not-so-suave. Wrong again, I do not listen to Beck. If I were to want that sort of aural experience, I would eat a seven-bean salad and put a stethoscope of my anus.

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By Abdirahman, May 3, 2011 at 6:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If they US gov really cared about not offending and showing gruesome images of a dead man to the public, why shot the unarmed man in th first place? The story of the death of OBL is so fishy, yet asking any serious questions you are deemed a conspiracy nut? When did we ever start believing without ever seeing factual evidence? When it comes to a government(US) with a known trackrecord of somehow always coming short of the truth, the first thing you should ask yourself is, Wheres the Proof??

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By Dave24, May 3, 2011 at 5:13 pm Link to this comment

Release the photos. 
Show the world the exploded death of this one-of-many religious lunatic. 

If officials are worried about the perception of a Western war against Islam,
simply release the photo alongside the fireball bursting out of the Trade Center
—to remind everyone of how the former (OBL) is meaningless in light of the

Performing Islamic rights onboard the carrier was a smart move, frustrating as
it may be.  We live in a country built on religious tolerance and freedom from
religion, which are traits every theocratic country medievally lacks.  The US, in
permitting such a ritual, intended not to offend those whose lands we occupy
while also not offending American Muslims.  If Bin Laden were a Christian, they
would have done the relevant ritual, too.

And then, we dropped him into the violent, apathetic sea, forbidding him from
facing Mecca in any permanent fashion.

The wars we’ve fought to find him cost thousands of lives and a trillion dollars. 
We deserve to see those fucking photos.

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By Artful Dodger, May 3, 2011 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s very convenient that OBL’s body was buried at sea. I really don’t know whose body that is. It could could have been OBL on ice. It could have been some old man killed in some other action. Maybe it was even a goat. Yep, I am a truther, birther, deather, and yellow caker.

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By rollzone, May 3, 2011 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

hello. agreeing with the point about rogue elements
of our own government splattering JFK’s brain across
the trunk, and Ms. Jackie grasping it all the way
into the emergency room; the vermin al-kooka need to
see the video of the live action extermination: to
comprehend unless they surrender- they have only this
fate in their future. it is real, and it will happen.
what is saddest, is these vermin wish to enlist
others (UBL said this to his own sons) to strap on
bombs and kill for them, while they themselves live
in luxury. weak minded people need to see the death
shots. not after he was moved,...-where and how he
died. he made a bad career choice, and they should
not believe in him, nor follow him. show them

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By faith, May 3, 2011 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment

There is no need to disclose pictures of a dead man to the public at large.  It will
become self evident that bin Laden is indeed deceased.  There is enough
gruesomeness.  It needs to be simply put to rest and no longer remain a topic of
discussion.  Any SEAL will say the same thing.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, May 3, 2011 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment


TDoff was listening to Glenn Beck this morning. That’s where he got the “death certificate” riff. Beck was laughing at the birther (and truther) crazies and predicting the coming onslaught of “deathers” skeptical of the murder.

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By Myshkin, May 3, 2011 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“most recognizable with a clear picture of his face” and “a massive open head wound across both eyes” sounds a bit contradictory. In any case, if anyone who wants to can look at JFK’s brains hanging out the back of his head in autopsy photos, I imagine we can bear seeing some evidence of OBL’s “gruesome” corpse.

What I call “gruesome” are the videos you can watch on TV every week of the critically wounded, child-victims of US drone attacks. They’re not famous or infamous people. They’re just bloodied, frightened, innocent children laying in hospital beds because they were unlucky enough to be born in places determined to be of “American national security interest”.

The hypocrisy indulged in in the “home of the brave” is irony of the cruelest kind.

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By gerard, May 3, 2011 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

TDoff, thanks for pointing up the irony of “birth certificates” and “death certificates.”  I hadn’t thought of that and it’s too rich to miss! What an incredible age we live in! Surely it should produce another Shakespeare somewhere in the wings?  Globe Theater, right?  On the Bank of the Themes?

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By TDoff, May 3, 2011 at 12:31 pm Link to this comment

Hey, if we could fake those images of the ‘first moon landing’ over forty years ago, well enough to fool most of the people, we should certainly be able to convince folks we assassinated G.W. Bush’s buddy, Osama bin Laden. But it would be smart of Obama to hold off showing the images of Osama’s death, and let the suspense build, as gaggles of crazed republican wanna-be-president hopefuls demand to see the official, long form death certificate.

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