Osama bin Laden’s death pictures will not be released, said President Barack Obama, according to the Associated Press.
Instead, the US government will keep them classified.
Obama made the comments during an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes.” The show will air on Sunday night.
In the past two days, whether or not to release bin Laden’s death pictures has been a topic of intense debate both within the US government and in the media.
There are two major factors in favor of releasing the pictures.
One, they may provide a sense of closure to people who have lost family members to bin Laden’s 9/11 attacks. Some of these bereaved individuals have publicly supported the release of the pictures for precisely this reason.
Two, it gives definitive proof to doubters.
On the international stage, the Taliban has publicly suggested that the US should offer proof of bin Laden’s death. Domestically, certain segments of the population are vocally demanding the release of the pictures for a variety of reasons. Moreover, conspiracy theorists are already harping on the lack of proof for bin Laden’s death.
There is one major factor against the releasing of the pictures, however.
The pictures are graphic and gruesome, according to US officials who have seen them, and may thus be inflammatory. They may incite Muslim extremists to attack the US in the short-term. In the long-term, they may serve as propaganda material for al-Qaeda.
The White House is set to speak shortly to the press to explain its decision.