Obama’s decision not to release the death photos of Osama Bin Laden is an egregious mistake that raises, not lowers, the danger to the United States.
This is a decision born in fear, and the United States should never be projecting fear. It tempts the wolves who prowl at our door.
Let’s take a look at Obama’s rationale for keeping the photos from the public, as expressed during a 60 Minutes interview that will air Sunday.
It is important 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
We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies . . . The fact of the matter is, this is somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received . . . we don’t need to spike the football . . . given the graphic nature of these photos it would create a national security risk.
The message being sent, right on the cusp of one of our greatest moments of Taking Care of Business, is this: We are afraid of you. We are trembling at the thought you might get angry at us. We fear your reaction. We killed your leader, but please don’t be upset with us.
Messages of weakness get lopped up by the jackals who are our enemies. Weakness incites violence against us.
What the release of the photo would actually prompt is the respect and the fear toward us from the rest of the world, which is far more likely than us to view the universe in Darwinian terms. It would be a solid affirmation of our strength. Releasing the photos says something true and awesome about the United States: “If you attack us, it may take ten years, but we will find you, and this is what will happen to you. Here, TAKE A LOOK.”
The U.S. is known, compared to the rest of the world, for a having short attention span. The photos would show we don’t always forget.
I believe the Obama White House thinks the planet beyond Western Europe has our kind of rational, compassionate mindset. But the world has a very different mindset. If we took Bin Laden’s mangled corpse and strung it up on a flagpole at Ground Zero, half the population overseas would think this a perfectly reasonable approach.
But we can’t even release a photo.
In what way is the picture of the Terrorist King with his cerebellum dribbling out the side of his head going to inspire future Jihadists? Sure, there will be some angry ululating, but after that dies down, the message is clear: this is what the United States does to bad guys. Don’t be one.
It’s not spiking the football. How silly. It’s a lesson and a warning. Our enemies and their potential recruits understand that Bin Laden played a risky game, and lost. The photos would not shock them. Why shouldn’t America blow half his head off? That’s what they’d do to us.
Bin Laden is not a particularly sympathetic figure in the Arab world anymore. The photo would give sustenance to those seeking a better Arab world, a graphic message that the past is dead.
And then their are the conspiracies. The Arab street, and many other streets, think the sunrise is a conspiracy. We have left an indelible question mark in the minds of some around the world about whether we really got Bin Laden. The conflicting accounts we offered about the operation only accentuate the sense of a fictional story poorly told.
Gosh, some reasonable Americans took years to believe Elvis was dead. Jim Morrison of the Doors is still held by some to be in some shack in the south of France prying escargots out of their shells and laying down new rock music tracks.
Without the photo, Osama lives on. What better way to recruit the next generation of terrorists, gullible types who can be convinced that harems of willing virgins await their murderous self-immolation?
And what about us Americans. Don’t we have the right to see this? Don’t we have the right to see our worst enemy crushed by our brave protectors? Why, Mr. President, do you and some of the others in the elite ruling class grant yourselves permission to gain closure, while denying it to the rest of us?