We don't trot out Osama death photos as trophies: Obama

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Barack Obama
Washington, May 5: "We don't trot out this stuff as trophies," President Barrack Obama said while announcing his decision against releasing the death photos of Osama bin Laden killed in US surgical strikes.

Obama's announcement came amid a raging debate within and outside the US over whether or not the photos of the dead body of the al Qaeda chief should be made public.

The President decided against the move since it would incite violence and help propagandists, his spokesman Jay Carney said while reading out Obama''s remarks from the transcript of yesterday's interview to further explain the controversial choice.

He added that it was important to make sure that very graphic photos of a man who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool.

"That's not who we are. We don't trot out this stuff as trophies," Obama said.

"The fact of the matter is this was somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received, and I think Americans and people around the world are glad that he is gone.

"But we don't need to spike the football, and I think that, given the graphic nature of these photos, it would create some national security risk, and I've discussed this with Bob Gates and Hillary Clinton and my intelligence teams, and they all agree," Obama said, adding that he has seen those pictures.

He said now that the al Qaeda leader is dead a photograph is not going to make any difference.

Reacting to the picture that he saw of bin Laden, Obama said: "It was him".

During the interview, Obama said there is no doubt that bin Laden was dead and the world would never see him and that the post-mortem images of the dead body would not be released.

"This is fact which is now known to the world and to his supporters, however, there will still be some who would still not believe this," the President argued.

"We discussed this internally. Keep in mind that we are absolutely certain that this was him. We''ve done DNA sampling and testing. So there was no doubt that we killed Osama bin Laden," Obama was quoted as saying by Carney in the CBS interview.

During the interview, according to Carney, Obama said the decision in this regard was taken following consultations with his top national security advisors including the Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

When asked about people in Pakistan who consider Osama''s death a lie or as another American trick, Obama said: "The truth is that we were monitoring world -- that we are monitoring -- we were monitoring, rather, worldwide reaction. There is no doubt that Osama bin Laden is dead. Certainly, there is no doubt among Al Qaida members that he is dead".

Even if there are folks who deny it, the fact of the matter is, bin Laden will not be seen walking on Earth again, Obama said.

Carney had yesterday described the images as "gruesome".

"It is not in our national security interest ... to allow these images to become icons to rally opinion against the United States," he said.

"We have no need to publish those photographs to establish that Osama bin Laden was killed," he added.

However, some lawmakers said Obama's decision a mistake. Some argued releasing the images would put to rest any critics or conspiracy theories, while others countered that the graphic photos would only inflame jihadists.

A senior Democratic official close to the White House told CNN that the president was "never in favor" of releasing the photos, even as CIA chief Leon Panetta made it sound like their release was imminent.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were among those who supported Obama's inclination to keep the pictures classified, the senior Democratic official said.

But Panetta said Tuesday he thought a photograph of bin Laden''s body would be released at some point. "I just think it''s important -- they know we have it -- to release it," the CIA director said.

The president's inner circle was not happy with those remarks, the senior Democratic official said.

But a senior Obama administration official said debates over the pros and cons of releasing the photos were "not at all contentious." The official admitted that "leaks are possible," but said that did not sway the president from reaching his decision.

Carney stressed that Obama wanted to hear differing perspectives to inform his choice.

"He wanted to hear the opinions of others, but he was very clear about his view on this," Carney said.

"There are obviously arguments to be made on either side."

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called the decision a "mistake."

"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."

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, also said Obama made the wrong choice about the photos. But House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said he shares the president's view.

PTI

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