After Obama’s announcement, Reuters buys death photos of bin Laden
From The Atlantic Wire: (my weigh in below)
Reuters bought photos of three dead bodies from the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the news agency’s Andrees Latif reports. The wire service got the images from an anonymous Pakistani security official and is “confident” they’re the real deal–they were taken in sequence, are the same size, and the time and date match the file’s metadata, all indications they haven’t been tampered with. The photos also the wrecked helicopter lost during the raid. None of the men are bin Laden.
After much debate and introspection, the President has decided that photographs showing the corpse of bin Laden will not be released. I spent the better part of last night and today weighing the decision on what I’d do if they’re released, both professionally at work as well as on my site.
In deciding not to make public the pictures of the corpse, Obama resisted arguments that to do so could counter skeptics who have argued there is no proof bin Laden is dead.
“I think that given the graphic nature of these photos, it would create some national security risk,” Obama told the CBS program “60 Minutes.”
“It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence. As a propaganda tool,” the president added.
“There’s no doubt that Bin Laden is dead,” Obama said. “And so we don’t think that a photograph in and of itself is going to make any difference. There are going be some folks who deny it. The fact of the matter is, you will not see bin Laden walking on this earth again.”
The journalist in me says that news is news, no matter the content and for the record I was a supporter of releasing photographs of Saddam Hussein after his death. These photos, if the descriptions are accurate are going to be sensationally gory. I’ve grown up around death and homicide all my life with my father being a detective, and I’ve seen dead bodies up close in a professional capacity.
If Reuters releases these photos publicly, I have to say that I fail to see the journalistic value and the President’s argument that doing so could inflame the fires of retaliation has a lot of merit. As such, I can’t be a party to that.
If photographs do become public, I will not be participating in their exposure, in either of my capacities. Will I view them if I received copies through official channels? Yes; I’m well past the point of being sensitive when it comes to this topic. But the risks involved in publishing them far outweigh the journalistic value.