WASHINGTON — The White House said Monday it was weighing whether to release photographs of Osama bin Laden’s corpse amid calls from some key lawmakers to do so to prove the Al-Qaeda chief is truly dead.
“We are going to do everything we can to make sure that nobody has any basis to try to deny that we got Osama bin Laden,” President Barack Obama’s gruff anti-terror adviser, John Brennan, told reporters.
“And so, therefore, the releasing of information, and whether that includes photographs — this is something to be determined,” said Brennan, who hunted the Al-Qaeda mastermind for 15 years.
His comments came as top lawmaker warned Washington may have to release photographs of Osama, killed in a daring weekend US special forces raid on his fortified compound in the Pakistan city of Abbottabad.
“It may be necessary to release the pictures — as gruesome as they undoubtedly will be, because he’s been shot in the head — to quell any doubts that this somehow is a ruse that the American government has carried out,” said Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joseph Lieberman.
Lieberman, an independent usually aligned with the White House, said he was “absolutely convinced that the man who was killed yesterday was Osama bin Laden” and that he would respect the White House’s decision on the photographs.
But, he said, “unless there’s an acknowledgement by people in Al-Qaeda that bin Laden is dead,” some may deny that DNA testing of the body proved it was the elusive terrorist mastermind.
Senator Susan Collins, the top Republican on Lieberman’s committee, also declared she has “absolutely no doubt” bin Laden had been killed in his fortified, secretive headquarters.
“But I recognize that there will be those who will try to generate this myth that he’s alive, and that we missed him somehow, and in order to put that to rest it may be necessary to release some of the pictures, or video, or the DNA test,” she said.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Republican, said US officials were working through whether to release photos of bin Laden’s corpse.
“We want to make sure that we maintain dignity — if there was any — in Osama bin Laden, so that we don’t inflame problems other places in the world and still provide enough evidence that people are confident that it was Osama bin Laden,” he said.