Key Senators want bin Laden photos released, but disagree on when
May 4th, 2011
12:22 PM ET
11 years ago

Key Senators want bin Laden photos released, but disagree on when

Washington (CNN) - Two top senators involved in national security said Wednesday the photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse should be released, but they disagreed on when.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, who chairs the Armed Services Committee - and who has not seen the photos - said the U.S. should wait to allow the emotions of those around the world who may be sympathetic to bin Laden to cool.

"I'd let a little time pass so we that we don't play into the hands of people who want to retaliate with what obviously will be a sensational picture. I would not want to feed that sensation so I'd wait days or weeks," he said.

Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the top Republicans on the intelligence committee, - who said he has seen the photos - said they should go out right away.

"I think the question is 'what's the negative that could come from it?'" Chambliss said. "One of these days they're going to be released it's a question of whether it be now on our terms or (let) somebody else do it."

Chambliss described the photos, as "what you would expect from somebody's who's been shot in the head. It's not pretty."

The two men answered questions from reporters as they entered a classified briefing in the Capitol on the bin Laden raid with CIA Director Leon Panetta.

Filed under: Carl Levin • Osama bin Laden • Saxby Chambliss
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. rhumba

    The Bush administration wouldn't allow the images of American soldiers' caskets from Afghanistan and Iraq to be shown to the public for fear that his administration would lose the public's support for the two wars. Now many are insisting that the mangled face of OBL be plastered all over news stands?

    May 4, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    My two cents worth: DO NOT RELEASE the photos. None of them.

    May 4, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  3. NC

    Don't release the photos. There are some things that we dont need to see or know. Releasing the photos will endanger Americans. For those of you that love to see pictures of bodies there are some of us that have seen the real thing. We are the ones that protect our cities and our country.

    May 4, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Didn't Sen. John McCain campaign on "Country First"?
    How does your personal desire to see blood reconcile with that theme?

    May 4, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. Duck Fallas

    I'd rather see the picture of Osama than a picture of Saxby.

    May 4, 2011 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. Sgt Schultz

    Yes although we all want 100% proof to appease the skeptics (myself included)...I do agree that the risks outweigh the benefits. It would serve to fire-up the fundamentalists jihadists that would leverage the photo for recruitment purposes and martyrdom. I can see it now...the enemy would claim Bin Laden granted 1000 virg's and is our hero, etc....they already are parading in the streets showing his portrait. Death photo would simply fan the flames of anti-American hatred.

    May 4, 2011 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. PssttCmere

    And now this failure of a president says NO....why? They can't even get their stories straight on what transpired during the takedown. With all the I's and Me's interjected into obama's speech, you would think he went in and did the deed himself. We have our brave service people to thank. I know obamarrhoids reading this post are salivating to post their denigrating remarks. Riddle me this, why should we believe ANYTHING this administration says? The track record is less than stellar. I can say the same thing about other administrations, but we are talking about the here and now.

    May 4, 2011 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  8. Conspiracy theory…. ummm…NOT!

    There is a certain element in the GOP that wants the photos released because they KNOW it will ignite retaliation. Then, they can then blame the Obama administration for the attacks. At the same time, they will angrily denounce the release of the photos (that they insisted be released) and claim Obama mishandled the entire operation and caused innocent lives to be lost.

    In order for this “conspiracy” to be pulled off, he would have to have had the cooperation of the Navy (the SEALs no less), both GOP and Dem administration members, the entire Pakistani government, bin Laden’s 13 year old daughter who said she saw the man killed, his family in the US (who provided the DNA match), not to mention OBL himself! As much as OBL liked to see himself in the international media, and as much as he would have LOVED to see the US go down international disgrace, if he was alive, I guarantee you he would have come out by now hiding by now just to prove the US wrong.
    The decisions the POTUS has made all along during this mission were made to minimize loss of life and to attempt reduce incidences of retaliations by taking away any excuses extremists may try to use as justification for further violence.
    That element in the GOP is seething because of the success of this mission. They are beyond desperate to find something- ANYTHING to diminish the magnitude of this accomplishment

    May 4, 2011 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  9. fvw50

    I may not agree with President Obama on many things, but his decision to not release these photos is, in my opinion, the right decision. I suspect that the geopolitical fallout from releasing these photos would far outweigh any benefit. Why give the terrorist network any more ammunition then they already have? A released photo would create a focal point to rile jihadists. Let them stew knowing that US special forces got bin Laden and leave it at that.

    May 4, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  10. Honestly!

    @ Rudy NYC: Well said. @ Sergio, I agree with you. I was quite surprised myself. For Chambliss to say "I think the question is 'what's the negative that could come from it?'" – what kind of stupidity is that? Is he kidding? Americans will never be satisfied no matter what but those who despise us would be satisfied right into action against us. What a dumbazz.

    May 4, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. The Adult In The Room

    It's not their call it is the President's. Let's not forget that HE gets intelligence briefings on threats and opportunities around the world – these Senators do not – not even the ones on "Intelligence Committees" get the information that he gets.

    I trust President Obama's judgement and discretion even though I think the pictures would help re-enforce that America is not to be triffled with.

    For all we know, the President may have Hilary Clinton working on getting Kadhafi to step down [or something else that is of national interest] which could be impacted this release.

    May 4, 2011 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. Dave 3000

    But of course the two "Key Senators" are Republicans... Always looking for a way to play politics...Who else really wants to see the photos? The "Birthers"? Those that claim George Bush deserves credit? When in 2002 George Bush said he wasn't really interested in Bin Laden and that the war on terror was bigger than one man... and in 2005 cut funding to the agency responsible for tracking him... Good job President Obama... I'll take your word for it and feel totally confident in your decision not to release the photos.

    May 4, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  13. frank

    I could not care less if these photos are released. However, we should clarify the real reason they will not release them. The PC crowd believes it will infuriate muslims. I say, they do not need a reason to be infuriated. They will surlely try to kill us no matter what we do. Did they have a reason to kill almost 3000 people during 9/11? Did theyt need a reason to carry out suicide bombings against their own prople and others? Let us be honest and call them what they are, COWARDLY DESERT RATS.

    May 4, 2011 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. Laverne

    Other than proving to folk who like to keep conspiracy theories going, I don't know what purpose showing the pictures would accomplish. Republicans and democrat senators have seen the photos and can testify it was Bin Laden, we should leave it alone and get back to being Americans. We should end the side show asap!

    May 4, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    @Sergio D. Monterroso

    Not surprised that Republicans would want to see the gory details, that is what the Bush administration used to do.
    Thank-you. That was the misguided policy of the Bush administration, which only served as a recruiting tool.

    May 4, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  16. Marie MD

    Are we surprised that some redneck senator from georgia wants the photo released. He probably gets a *ard on just thinking about it!
    The monster is dead. If somebody doesn't want to believe, like those people in pakistan and our birther/teabagging movement, that's their problem.
    This is why I am glad he is now shark food if the poor sharks can stomach him!!
    Rot in hell bin laden!!

    May 4, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  17. aj

    The photos may need to be released to show the people that lost there loved ones from that day just to show them that is him an they can rest now

    May 4, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  18. Steve Oehmen

    I think the one guy had it exactly right; "This is not a trophy". I think that captures it very well. Let's move on.

    May 4, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  19. Just Me

    While releasing the pictures would be satisfying to some, I think from a national security standpoint, it's probably not in country's interest to do so at this time, knowing that the enemy gets excited over these kinds of things and may get riled up for retribution knowing their history. This just increases the risk to us all. I trust the President's judgement on this, and I for one is not one of those who need to see the photo of Osoma's corpse to convince myself that he is dead. Furthermore, I am not among the conspiracy nut crowd who would have you believe otherwise. Maybe on day in the future when more fires have been put out, but releasing them at this time may be very counterproductive.

    May 4, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. sonny chapman

    Did Saxby Chambliss clear that with the Most Reverend Ralph Reed ? You know, the guy that ran a Bin Laden picture next to his Senatorial opponent, Max Cleland, the triple amputee Vietnam War Vet.

    May 4, 2011 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. Busted2010

    How many people are sick and tired over the constant fear tactics by republicans? This consistant republican attitude presented by Chamblis here: "I think the question is "One of these days they're going to be released it's a question of whether it be now on our terms or (let) somebody else do it"". Our terms vs their terms, for the love of all things holy give it a rest, stop trying to make people feel like they are a symbol of weakness for approaching things with a level head. Why can't republicans show they learned a lessson from Bush's administration?

    May 4, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. James Hicks

    No release, good call! It's now time to move on to the next task. Senators, do not waste my tax money beating a dead horse. Move on. We're ahead of the pack now. Let's keep it rolling. Great job Obama!

    May 4, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  23. w l jones

    Every body have family. ..regardless..

    May 4, 2011 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  24. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    Once again Mr President Obama you are on point and tracking. There is no need to release these picture right now some other time in (space) good job.

    May 4, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  25. Walter S. Adams

    If the president's solemn duty is to protect America, then definitely do not release any photos of the dead bin Laden. The fringe hangers-on don't need more provocation to mount an attack in an attempt to avenge bin Laden's death. Can't all Americans rally around our president when he's doing his utmost to protect us? It sickens me to see so many citizens rooting for Obama to fail, never once realzing how unAmerican that is or how counterproductive that is to our national well-being.

    May 4, 2011 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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