The president agonizes over this decision.
After mulling it over for a couple of days, while America and the world waited eagerly for more information, that brave and bold Barack Obama decided that the best policy with regard to Osama bin Laden’s death photos and the videos of the attack on his compound was his own traditional approach to releasing information like birth certificates and school records: no voluntary release.
In an interview with Steve Kroft for this Sunday’s “60 Minutes” conducted today, President Obama said he won’t release post-mortem images of Osama bin Laden taken to prove his death.
“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,” said the president. …
The president said he had discussed the issue with his intelligence team, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and that they agree with the decision. White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that Mr. Obama made the decision today.
I would say that the president is behaving with a characteristic timidity and bias toward concealment and self protection, and in a situation of this kind his approach is completely a mistake. The whole point of sending in troops and not simply bombing the compound into oblivion was to prove that Osama bin Laden was killed. In the age of cellphone cameras and the Internet telling the world that you will not release documentary evidence of what happened and the results inevitably makes you look guilty and deceptive. The result will be an intensification of questioning and an escalation of challenges to you account.
I think the odds are good that Obama will eventually be forced to release that photograph and video, and he will consequently and deservedly look stupid and manipulative as the result of this bad decision.