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Will U.S. Government Release Authentic Bin Laden Photos?

Osama bin Laden lived out of public view after being chased from Afghanistan by United States forces in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. For 10 years he remained a bogeyman shrouded in mystery. The question many are asking now is: Will we get one last look at him before consigning his memory to the past?

The emergence of fake photos purporting to show Osama bin Laden's lifeless body is a sign of the public's interest in visual evidence of his death. It's an open question as to whether the U.S. government will oblige, as it did when releasing pictures of the bullet-riddled bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons in 2003.

The obvious reason for not releasing photos is that they may not be pretty to look at. Jake Tapper at ABC News writes:

The argument against releasing the pictures: they're gruesome. He has a massive head wound above his left eye where he took bullet, with brains and blood visible.

Mark Pasetsky at Forbes argues that horrific wounds are no reason to hold back:

The photo should be released no matter how graphic it is. The most important thing is to ensure the nation moves forward and experiences closure on this horrific tragedy. A photo of bin Laden dead will do just that and would serve as an exclamation point on Obama's historic announcement.

As Korva noted earlier, former senior CIA official Michael Scheuer said on C-SPAN that "they will be forced to put out the pictures" to try and head off conspiracy theories.

Update at 3:45 p.m. ET: As Eyder notes in his most recent post, John Brennan, the White House's homeland security and counterterrorism advisor, said during a briefing today that the government has not decided whether it would release photos of bin Laden's body. He did say, however, that the administration was willing to do "anything possible so no one has any basis for doubting that we got bin Laden."

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Wright Bryan
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