While Barack Obama says his administration won't release a gruesome photo of deceased terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden because it may ignite hostility around the world and shouldn't be treated like "a trophy," the president may not have a choice in the matter.
The Associated Press has filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act that asks for access to the death photo -- taken during the Navy SEALS daring operation into Pakistan -- as well as images taken at Bin Laden's burial at sea.
The U.S. government now has 20 days to respond to the FOIA request. Scott Hodes, a former FOIA attorney told The Guardian newspaper in Britain that it could be a long, drawn-out battle over whether the photos are ever seen.
"It's not inconceivable a court is going to say to release them," Hodes said. "But I think the government will fight because it's made its decision."
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But does the American public -- and the world for that matter -- have a right to see these images? Does the government have a right to decide what its citizens can see or not?
Barb Shelly of the Kansas City Star says NO:
The world doesn’t need a photograph to prove that the terrorist is dead. There is evidence aplenty, including a DNA match and confirmation by one of bin Laden’s wives. The Pakistan government isn’t disputing it. We have the word of the Navy SEALS and the president of the United States. That is enough.
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Bin Laden is dead.
The deniers don’t buy it, of course. And they won’t. There will always be people who cling to falsehoods. The Holocaust never happened, despite the evidence found at the concentration camps and the testimony of the people who survived them. Barack Obama was born overseas, never mind the copy of his U.S. birth certificate and the word of the doctor who attended his birth in Hawaii.
Photographs of bin Laden’s corpse won’t convince these people. And a responsible government shouldn’t dignify them or make policy decisions on their behalf.
Conservative Ann Coulter says YES:
Well, for one thing I notice all the people who say we don't need to see the photo, have themselves, seen the photo. This was not a personal crime against the Barack Obama family. This was an attack on the United States of America. And for ten years, Americans, at least 200 million Americans, liberals were burning candles and singing folk songs, but 200 million Americans have been waiting to personally put the bullet in Usama bin Laden's head. We paid for it, we ought to be able to see it.
Secondly, and perhaps more important, you know, this president prides himself on his indigenous quality in saying Pakistan, but he seems to know less about Arabs than, you know, my dog. Certainly, this Irishman from Long Island knows more.
First of all, I don't care particularly that they are going to have conspiracy theories. Who cares what they think? And, yet, and still, their leaders are constantly lying to them. Conspiracy theories are rife in the Arab world. They will believe this is a fake otherwise.
Secondly, as we know from the way Arabs treat their own people and what Usama bin Laden himself said, if a man sees a strong horse and a weak horse, he will naturally favor the strong horse. Arabs admire power and strength. They personally consider themselves inferior until they see that America did this to Usama bin Laden. They will still look up to him. They will still be afraid he is out there. When they see that America put a bullet through his head, they will turn on him like that.