Whether for national security reasons, whether it’s too gruesome or whether the photo doesn’t actually exist, America does not need to see photographic evidence of Osama bin Laden’s death.
It is understandable for people who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center attacks to feel closure, because the man who publicly claimed responsibility for the attacks is dead. It is understandable for any other American to feel relieved, because faith in our country, mankind and national security was shaken the day news networks aired footage of men and women jumping to their deaths after reporting for a normal day at the office. It was even understandable for thousands of people to celebrate on the streets the night President Barack Obama announced that bin Laden was dead.
He killed thousands of Americans, scared the rest of us and told us so from a hole in the desert.
But brandishing a photo of a man, even a known terrorist, with his face disfigured by a bullet wound from a close range is not closure. It is not American. It is barbaric.
Releasing the photo is the 21st Century equivalent to placing his head on a stake in the North Lawn of the White House.
The photo would not strengthen America’s international image as a country that will stand up for its people, it will not dampen any doubts that bin Laden actually is dead, and Obama will look like he is attempting to pad his approval rating by flaunting this success.
The international manhunt that began almost ten years ago demonstrates well enough that Americans will not tolerate unwarranted attacks on innocent people. Releasing the photo would not give us more credibility. In fact, more likely, the photo would encourage retaliation.
A photo will not convince anyone who believes bin Laden is still alive to change his mind. In this age of digital photo manipulation, conspiracy theorists will not be deterred by a photograph of a man whose face is barely recognizable because of the brain matter and skull fragments strewn about.
So far, Obama has handled the completion of a mission started by his Republican predecessor maturely. He does not seem to be going out of his way to inflate the gravity of this news into the upcoming election year.
We have protected our name, enjoyed our success and now it is time to move on.