AirTalk for May 4, 2011

The politics and ethics of releasing bin Laden’s corpse photos

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Barack Obama is still weighing the decision of whether or not to release photographs depicting Osama bin Laden's death to the American public.

There appears to be a hot debate at the top levels in Washington over whether to release photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have reportedly advised the President not to release the images. However, CIA Director Leon Panetta thinks it's important to do so. There have been voices of skepticism of bin Laden's death -- perhaps easily refuted by the absence of the man himself. Some Pentagon and State Department officials are concerned about a potential backlash against the U.S. for killing of the al-Qaida leader. According to a senior government source, the White House has three sets of photographs, including one close-up image described as too gruesome for the front page of newspapers. Should the photos be released anyway? What’s the White House’s strategy regarding the photos? What are the pros and cons of releasing them? Does the world need photographic proof to believe bin Laden is really dead?

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