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The case for releasing photos of bin Laden’s corpse

Post by Cheryl Tucker on May 5, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
May 5, 2011 3:56 pm

In an editorial appearing Friday in the print edition, we argue that releasing the gruesome photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse would do more harm than good – for two reasons.

• The hard-core skeptics (they’re being called “deathers” now) wouldn’t believe anything they were shown.

• They could potentially incite violence against Americans abroad, including our military, diplomats and aid workers. That’s why the military asked that the photos not be released.

Of course, there’s a case to be made for the other side – and I could have written an editorial supporting that, too. William J. Bennett, for instance, argues that release would give a better sense of closure and withholding them “carves out an exception in our history of documenting major world events.”

He disputes the notion that the U.S. should not release the photos because they might incite violence. That, he writes, “is to grant jihadists a veto on our public policy, and it is a veto that can never be satisfied, that will never be powerful enough.”

To accept this veto would be to hobble everything a free people should stand for, from the exercise of free speech and religious freedom to the right to walk down the street peaceably. We should not defer our rights and liberties and policies to the threats of madmen, nihilists or fascists. It doesn’t work anyway.

Read Bennett’s entire story here.

Rick “Ozzie” Nelson – director of the Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies – argues that President Obama faced a “no-win decision” regarding the photos and that he made the right decision for the short term. Eventually, though, Nelson believes Obama probably will feel pressured to release them. Read his story here.

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