ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:
The debate over whether to release photos of the corpse of Osama bin Laden has not broken down along party lines.
On ABC’s “Top Line” today, we saw the debate play out between two plugged-in Republican senators: Sen. Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, and Sen. Jim Risch, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Collins, R-Maine, said she believes the release of at least a “couple of the pictures” is necessary to end any “mythology” over bin Laden still being alive.
“I understand that this is a very difficult debate. But what I’m worried about is there will be this mythology that will arise that somehow Osama bin Laden escaped, or isn’t really dead or someone else was killed, despite the fact that it clearly was Osama who was caught and killed in this raid,” she said.
“So I think if there’s a way to release a couple of the pictures, hopefully ones that aren’t as gruesome — they are going to be inherently gruesome because there were shots to his head — that it would help prevent that mythology from arising.”
But Risch, R-Idaho, said that while he’s sure the photos will come to public light “eventually,” he sees no compelling reason to release them now, when there are so few credible voices who are doubting whether bin Laden is dead.
“I’m not so sure you want to poke the bee hive by releasing these photos at this time,” Risch told us.
He added that he doesn’t think a photograph will change the minds of those who are inclined to believe in conspiracy theories regarding bin Laden’s death.
“A photograph isn’t going to make any difference,” he said. “DNA has now been confirmed to be 100 percent positive that it was bin Laden. That’s what’s going to convince people. Having said that, photos, DNA, whatever you have — you know, there’s people who still believe that we didn’t walk on the moon. And there’s going to be people who believe that he wasn’t killed.”
Prominent House members are also split on the subject. House Speaker John Boehner is saying he sees no need to release the photos. House intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said on “Good Morning America” today that he’s concerned that a photo of a dead bin Laden could be used as a “trophy” that could make the jobs of US soldiers harder.
But House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y. – who has not seen the photos personally – said yesterday that they should be released.
“They’re not ghoulish, they’re not going to scare people off, they’re not offensive,” King told reporters after being briefed by CIA Director Leon Panetta. “Nothing more than you expect with a person with a bullet in his head.”