Bin Laden Photos: To Release, or Not to Release

osama bin laden dead
Photo Courtesy of Fox News

This morning, the biggest debate surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden is whether or not to release postmortem photos of the terrorist mastermind.  The arguments on both sides boil down to two:  release the photos as absolute public proof that bin Laden is really dead.  Such evidence could quiet naysayers, both at home and abroad; keep back the photos, because the only consequence of their release would be to inflame anti-American sentiment and provide a rallying point for Al-Qaeda, precisely what was looking to be avoided by burying bin Laden at sea.

As for me, I say release the entire gamut.  Start with the DNA evidence.  Give the world an understanding of the techniques used to gain positive identification.  Then release the videos of the firefight itself, right down to the cry of E-KIA Geronimo.  Release the postmortem pictures.  The good ones.  The pictures that will leave us with no doubt that the man we see is Osama bin Laden himself.  Release the video of the burial at sea.  If this is an American victory, let American’s see the victory.  If this is a victory in the global fight on terror, let the globe see the victory.

I know that this idea is going to be met with opposition.  There will be those who say that I and others are simply being morbid.  Many have said that celebrating the death of any one person is simply wrong, and that the idea goes against the values we hold as Americans.  A country that values life as we do should never be looking to celebrate death.  Some have even compared the rallies in the streets of Washington and New York to the same rallies held by insurgents and terrorists in their countries at the deaths of American soldiers and citizens.

Over the past couple of days, I have come to see these issues in a different light.  I want all of this to be released because I truly believe that the release of such evidence was the purpose of carrying out the assassination of bin Laden as it was constituted.  We could have bombed the compound a month ago.  We didn’t.  Why?  Because the President of the United States wanted to leave no doubt that bin Laden was dead, that we finally got the man.  In the President’s mind, a decade of doubt, insecurity, and wonderment was enough.  Now I say, let us finish the job.  Once again, we argue that this is America’s victory.  To this point, I feel the administration has done a fine job of demonstrating the utmost transparency in discussing this mission.  This mission was America’s mission.  If that is really the case, then these materials should not be kept back for only a few to see.

Might the release of such materials incite anti-American sentiment?  Yes.  Might our children see something we might not want them to see?  Yes.  Is it possible that in the age of social media the pictures and video might be exploited by a select few individuals in a disturbing way?  Yes.  For me though, none of these reasons are good enough for not releasing this information.  We have seen graphic images played across our television screens and newspapers before.  We have seen the dead and dying lying in the streets on 9/11.  We saw American citizens jump out of the towers in desperation.  We saw all of this because of the terrorist leadership of one man.  Let us see now his demise.

I am not ashamed to say that in this moment, I want the United States to flex its muscle.  I want the United States to send a message

I think Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it well, “You cannot wait us out, you cannot defeat us…”

Now, let us show the proof.  Let us show the world that we are still the Superpower.  Let us show the world that we have the best military on the planet.  Let us show the world that this is our generation’s V-Day.  Let Al-Qaeda see their leader dead from American bullets.  Let Al-Qaeda see the face of their so-called leader as his years-long hideout was breached.  Let Al-Qaeda see his body sent to the bottom of the sea.

As for that Victory Day, I have no problems with spontaneous eruptions in the streets in celebration.  I have no problem seeing the American flag waved with pride.  I have no problem with hearing the shouts of U.S.A. U.S.A. begin to rumble in the stadiums as America’s pastime is being played.  There is not enough of this in America anyway.  I’ll take any reminder I can get of the goodness of this country.  That’s what the celebration is about.  The celebration is about the triumph of good over evil.  The celebration is about a promise made and a promise kept.  The celebration is about liberty and freedom rising triumphant over tyranny and oppression.  I most certainly value life over death.  Yet all things being equal, I rejoice in victory for the United States of America, even when that victory is accomplishing the mission and the mandate to kill a man.  Americans should not see such celebrations and equal to the other celebrations on the battlefield.  The difference can be found in that as American’s our values are right and true.  Yes, others may not accept those values, but in this country, on our soil, we should be proud to celebrate and cheer when we are successful in the defense of those values.

By that same token, I see nothing wrong with being able to view the fruits of our labors.

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