Osama bin Laden
A video grab from an undated footage from the Internet shows Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden making statements from an unknown location. REUTERS

President Barack Obama went back on his promise to release at least one photo of dead Bin Laden, and said on Wednesday he would rather not incite more violence in the name of the Al-Qaeda terror chief's photo.

The president appeared to have been swayed by the predominant view in the national security apparatus that releasing the photo would hand another propaganda tool to terror organizations and endanger the lives of Americans overseas.

While that appears as s sagacious opinion, many argue that transparency could have been the better option. This view gains strength in the backdrop of the government slightly modifying its initial reportage on Bin Laden killing in the subsequent days, fuelling confusion about the real story and igniting talks that the entire death story was fake.

Some prominent republicans, including likely presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty demanded that the president release the photos.

“Show photo as warning to others seeking America’s destruction ... No pussy-footing around, no politicking, no drama; it’s part of the mission,” ,” Palin said.

This is somebody who had no regard for the 3,000 or so Americans that he killed on 9-11 in horrific conditions; buildings crushing, people jumping out of windows, Pawlenty said.

And somehow the notion that he and his followers would be offended by that, when they are in fact the purveyors of terror. I think it would have been okay to release the photos.

Others have said the decision not to release the photos is another instance of appeasing the islamists.

While the decision not to release the photos shows some restraint on the part of the administration the proof of its success depends on whether the terror outfits and sympathizers will see the U.S. in a better light because of this. It looks like that possibility is quite dim. Bin Laden and his Al-Qaead brand of terrorism drew inspiration from deep-routed animosity to the culture and ethos the U.S represented. They were not exactly reacting to some perceived behavioral flaws.

It will be hard to imagine that not releasing the photos will make U.S. citizens any safer around the world.

On the other hand, releasing the photo would have at least dispelled unnecessary rumors and conspiracy theories doing the rounds. There are hordes of people who still think the entire operation was a charade. The terror outfits will themselves stand to benefit from spreading that Bin Laden's death was a U.S.-sponsored hoax.

The President, who just released his own long-form birth certificate to quell unwanted rumors about his citizenship, should have given due weightage to the value of transparency. The President released his birth certificate after much dithering, and he acknowledged that he was releasing it finally so the country could focus on things that matter.

Though the photos are not going to see the light of the day for now, there are many who believe that some time in future the photos will be unveiled for the public. The footage of President John F. Kennedy’s killing, as also still images from that incident, was not released officially for a long time. These got out in the public realm later on.