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Terrorism & Security

Obama doubles down on refusal to release bin Laden photos

The White House seems to have decided that satisfying skeptics is not worth the risk of releasing 'gruesome' photos of Osama bin Laden, which could enrage radicals.

By Correspondent / May 4, 2011

A Pakistani man hangs photos of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden taken by Pakistani photographer Mazhar Ali Khan, and displayed at National Press Club in Islamabad, Pakistan on Wednesday, May 4. People are still confused and suspicious about the killing of Bin Laden, which took place in their midst on Sunday night.

B.K.Bangash/AP

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President Obama has opted not to release photos of Osama bin Laden's body in the immediate future, putting to rest almost three days of speculation.

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"There is no doubt that [bin Laden] is dead," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday. "Certainly there is no doubt among Al Qaeda members he is dead. We don't think a photograph in and of itself will make any difference."

Mr. Carney also said that the administration does not want to "spike the football" in celebration of bin Laden's death. "That is not who we are," he said, adding that it's important that very graphic images are not "floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool."

The decision indicates that alleviating the doubts of skeptics isn't as important to the Obama administration as concerns that the photos – which the White House describes as "gruesome" – could inflame Islamist radicals.

"What we don't want to do is to release anything that might be either misunderstood or that would cause other problems," President Obama's counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan said earlier this week, according to Reuters.

The Obama administration used facial recognition software and a DNA test to confirm that the body is bin Laden's.

According to ABC News, both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Obama against releasing the photos. And the number of congressional leaders who lined up behind that opinion seems to be sizable.

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