President Obama’s Decision to Hold Osama Bin Laden Death Photos Met Mostly with Conformity on Capitol Hill

By John R Parkinson

May 4, 2011 5:26pm

ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports:  The reaction on Capitol Hill to President Obama’s decision not to release any photographic evidence of Osama bin Laden’s death has been met mostly with agreement, with top lawmakers in the House of Representatives from both parties deferring to the president’s discretion.  Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, personally opposed releasing the photos, and called Obama’s verdict “a great decision.”   “I came out early and said that I didn’t think that they should be released. Imagine if we had one of our general officers who were killed by the Taliban or al Qaeda and they put them up on display and spread out the pictures like they were a trophy. It would inflame the U.S. population, and rightly so,” Rogers, R-Michigan, said Wednesday afternoon. “This is the right decision. We have soldiers at risk in combat areas. We want their job to be easier, not harder. I think releasing the photos would have made it harder. He’s dead. The Taliban may or may not believe it. We’ve got other actions that I’m sure they’ll believe coming to a town near them real soon.”  Rep. Pete King, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told reporters Tuesday that he believed the photos should be released to end any speculation from conspiracy theorists that Bin Laden was not really killed.  Today, King said he will “certainly support the president’s decision.”  “I accept the president’s decision. I haven’t seen the photo, [but] people who have seen it told me that they thought it was not particularly gruesome or ghoulish,” King, R-New York, said. “I just thought to put some of the conspiracy theories down, if the president could release it he should, but again – he’s the president. I can understand his decision, so I’m not going to oppose him at all.”  “I may have done it differently, but I’m not the president. He is and he has a lot more in front of him than I do, so I will support the president’s decision,” King added. “He has to look at the whole picture on this, and to me the main thing is Bin Laden is dead.”  Yesterday, the top Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said she believed “in giving the administration room to make its decisions about what is in our national security interest.”  Today, Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, said she “supports the president’s decision.”  But not everyone agrees with the administration’s decision not to release the photos.  Sen. Lindsey Graham, a former Air Force lawyer, said he believes President Obama’s decision not to release the images is “a mistake” that will “unnecessarily prolong this debate” over the death of the al Qaeda leader.  “I respectfully disagree with President Obama’s decision not to release the photos. It’s a mistake,” Graham, R-South Carolina, said today. “I know bin Laden is dead. But the best way to protect and defend our interests overseas is to prove that fact to the rest of the world. I’m afraid the decision made today by President Obama will unnecessarily prolong this debate.”  Rep. Michele Bachmann, who is considering mounting a challenge to President Obama in 2012, says that although she agrees with the decision not to release the photos, it is “important for the Administration to release definitive proof that identifies Osama bin Laden.”  “The world and the American people need to know that we got our man. I believe the best evidence would be a DNA match,” Bachmann, R-Minn., said. “If the Administration can release that information, without compromising intelligence, that would be the best proof, and would be better than a photo. My concern with a photo is that it could incite violence and put U.S. troops in harm’s way.” ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe contributed to this report

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