White House Debates Release of the Bin Laden Death Photo

Panetta appears to be in favor while Gates and Clinton are not

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President Obama is currently mulling over a tough decision: release a photo of Osama bin Laden's corpse as further evidence of the al-Qaeda leader's death, or keep the graphic image under wraps to avoid stoking anti-American sentiment around the world? Reports suggest the President is hearing both sides of the argument from his top advisers.

CIA Director Leon Panetta has told NBC's Brian Williams that he doesn't think there is "any question that ultimately a photograph would be presented to the public," adding that the bottom line is "we got bin Laden and I think we have to reveal to the rest of the world the fact that we were able to get him and kill him."

But others claim most people believe the U.S. killed bin Laden, and that the costs of releasing the photo outweigh the benefits. ABC's Jake Tapper is reporting that Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are telling Obama that making the photo public could provoke a backlash against the U.S. for killing bin Laden, and that the President himself is "increasingly doubtful that there's a compelling reason to release a photograph." Senator John Kerry told reporters that "there's a lot evidence and a pretty broad acceptance that [bin Laden's] dead," while Senator Harry Reid said releasing the photos would be "morbid," according to Slate.

Meanwhile, there's a parallel debate underway in newsrooms across the country about whether to publish the photo of bin Laden--who reportedly suffered a bullet wound above his left eye--if the White House releases it. As The Washington Post explains, "the images are the very definition of news, but they're also likely to be horrifyingly graphic, the sort of thing that American newspapers and television networks avoid showing their readers and viewers." Most news outlets the Post speaks with appear to be leaning toward publishing the image, after vetting the photo and issuing disclaimers.

Photo by the Associated Press

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