Why wouldn't the story of Osama Bin Laden, a multi-millionaire terrorist Michael Moore says was profiled for being a Muslim, get strange in death as it was in life? After dumping the body at sea (apparently with proper Muslim death rituals and corpse prep), the U.S. government won't release death photos of Bin Laden.
Several members of Congress who say they have seen death mugshots of Bin Laden now say they were duped:
At day's end, [Sen. Kelly] Ayotte [R-N.H.] issued a statement saying: "While I was shown a photo by another senator of what appeared to be a deceased Osama bin Laden, I do not know if it was authentic."
[Sen. Scott] Brown [R-Mass.] had told several media outlets that serve his home state of Massachusetts that he had seen the picture.
"Let me assure you that he is dead, that bin Laden is dead," Brown told New England Cable News (NECN) television. "I have seen the photos and, in fact, we've received the briefing and we'll continue to get the briefings."
NECN later posted an update saying that Brown's office had told them "that the bin Laden photos the senator mentions seeing about two minutes into the clip here were not authentic."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) hasn't seen the photos but is sure that Bin Laden was croaked based on her reading of the DNA evidence (?): "It was Osama bin Laden," AFP quotes her, noting she called the DNA testing "conclusive."
And then there's one guy who actually says he saw pictures:
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Republican who strongly opposes releasing the photographs, saw them at CIA headquarters on Monday, according to spokeswoman Susan Phalen.
"The chairman happened to be at the CIA on Monday and saw the photos there," she said.
I can kinda/sorta understand Obama's desire not "to spike the football" here, but his concern seems misplaced for a number of reasons. After infiltrating a hideout and shooting a guy to death is no time to get antsy about the public relations aspect of something. There are ways that the government could release an official photo that would get the job done with a minimal amount of unnecessary problems (I say "unnecessary" because there's always going to some who will be dissatisfied regardless of the actions taken or proof offered).
The disposition of the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination is instructive here. The short film sequence was basically kept secret by the government until 1975, when it was shown as a film for the first time on network TV (thanks be to Geraldo Rivera!). Keeping such a widely known-about artifact (stills had appeared in Life in 1963) only fueled conspiracy theories and wild speculation. And that was in a time when people were much more trusting on official narratives and access to images (and the ability to create your own) was far more restricted than it is now.
Coupled with the (inevitable and yet wholly avoidable and certainly ongoing) revision of the circumstances of Bin Laden's death, the failure to release publicly sanctioned official images and clear proof of death is a major mistake. What can you say about a situation in which Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), rarely a voice worth heeding on anything, has the clearest analysis?
"I know bin Laden is dead. But the best way to protect and defend our interests overseas is to prove that fact to the rest of the world," he said in a written statement. "I"m afraid the decision made today by President Obama will unnecessarily prolong this debate."
Reuters has posted photos from the Bin Laden compound here, including gruesome shots of several unidentified dead men.