Obama says he won't release bin Laden death photos
(AP) - President Barack Obama ordered grislyphotographs of Osama bin Laden in death sealed from public view onWednesday, declaring, "We don't need to spike the football" intriumph after this week's daring middle-of-the-night raid. Theterrorist leader was killed by American commandos who burst intohis room and feared he was reaching for a nearby weapon, U.S.officials said.
Several weapons were found in the room where the terror chiefdied, including AK-47 assault rifles and side arms, the officialssaid. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they offered the mostrecent in a series of increasingly detailed and sometimes-shiftingaccounts of bin Laden's final minutes after a decade on the run.
Obama said releasing the photographs taken by the Navy SEALraiders was "not who we are" as a country. Though some may denyhis death, "the fact of the matter is you will not see bin Ladenwalking this earth again," the president said in an interviewtaped for CBS' "60 Minutes."
He said any release of the photos could become a propaganda toolfor bin Laden's adherents eager to incite violence.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president'sdecision applied to photographs of bin Laden, said to show aportion of his skull blown away from a gunshot wound to the area ofhis left eye, as well as to a video recording of his burial severalhours later in the North Arabian Sea.
The president made no public remarks during the day about theraid, apart from the taped interview.
After two days of shifting accounts of the dramatic raid, Carneysaid he would no longer provide details of the 40-minute operationby the team of elite Navy SEALs. That left unresolved numerousmysteries, prominent among them an exact accounting of bin Laden'sdemise. Officials have said he was unarmed but resisted when anunknown number of commandos burst into his room inside thehigh-security compound.
The officials who gave the latest details said a U.S. commandograbbed a woman who charged toward the SEALs inside the room. Theysaid the raiders were concerned that she might be wearing a suicidevest.
Administration officials have said bin Laden's body wasidentified by several means, including a DNA test. Members ofCongress who received a briefing during the day said a sample fromthe body killed at the compound in Pakistan was compared to knownDNA from bin Laden's mother and three sons.
After two days of speculation about releasing the photographs,there was no detectable public debate in the U.S. about the meritsof the raid itself against the man behind the terror attacks thatkilled nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.
Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress the operation was"entirely lawful and consistent with our values" and justified as"an action of national self-defense." Noting that bin Laden hadadmitted his involvement in the events of nearly a decade ago, hesaid, "It's lawful to target an enemy commander in the field."
Holder also said the team that carried out the raid had beentrained to take bin Laden alive if he was willing to surrender."It was a kill-or-capture mission," he said. "He made no attemptto surrender."
Bin Laden had evaded capture for nearly a decade, and officialssaid he had currency as well as two telephone numbers sewn into hisclothing when he was killed, suggesting he was prepared to leavehis surroundings on a moment's notice if he sensed danger.
Administration officials said the two dozen SEALs involved inthe operation were back at their home base outside Virginia Beach,Va., and the extensive debriefing they underwent was complete.Saluted as heroes nationwide, they remained publicly unidentifiedbecause of security concerns.
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