US Commander orders all pictures of Osama bin Laden’s body destroyed
Throughout America’s bloody history, pictures of outlaws who were killed by law enforcement were displayed openly for all the public to see. Going back to American West there were pictures of a shot-up “Billy the Kid” or members of the Dalton Gang. During the days of Jim Crow there were pictures of innocent blacks burning on wood piles or hung from trees while a crowd gathered around taking souvenirs. During the 1960s there were pictures of a murdered Malcolm X, his face twisted in the agony of death. Even Saddam Hussein and his sons were pictured in death at the hands of U.S. forces. But what is it about the Osama bin Laden death pictures that have the American government so nervous?
The commander of U.S. Special Operations at the time, Vice Admiral William McRaven, ordered his commandos to destroy all death pictures of bin Laden or turn them over to the CIA immediately. Stating in a heavily redacted email; “One particular item that I want to emphasize is photos; particularly UBL’s remains. At this point — all photos should have been turned over to the CIA; if you still have them destroy them immediately or get them to the [redacted.]”
On the surface of the order was a fear that the pictures would be used for anti-American propaganda. Bin Laden was shot in the head with a high velocity round per reports, and quite frankly the picture would be gruesome. On one hand, of course, it could stoke the anger of would-be al-Qaida recruits, but on the other hand there would be the fear of “this could happen to me.”
Days after the raid President Obama spoke on the news program “60 Minutes” and stated, “ “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.”
But the president of the nonprofit organization Judicial Watch, Tom Fitton, disagrees and has filed an Freedom of Information Act request for the photos as well as a lawsuit. “Americans’ right to know about what their government is up to should be circumscribed because we don’t want to offend terrorists and their sympathizers? That to me is unbelievable. This is a historic raid. People have a right to this information,” said Fitton.
The lawsuit was declined to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court and must now make its way through the federal judicial system.