Preface: This post does not speculate on whether or not Bin Laden was actually killed last week or died previously, or on what images the government may possess, but only on what actually happened and what photographs have been released to date.
The government now claims that it has a photo showing a dead Bin Laden … but won’t release it.
The photo was supposedly taken in a hangar in Afghanistan. As CNN notes:
Photos of OBLs body at a hangar after he was brought back to Afghanistan. This is the most recognizable with a clear picture of his face. The picture is gruesome because he has a massive open head wound across both eyes. It’s very bloody and gory.
The official says the challenge is that the picture that includes the most recognizable image of OBLs face – from the hangar in Afghanistan – is so gruesome and mangled its not appropriate for say the front page of the newspaper.
The fact that the photo wasn’t taken right after the raid in Pakistan – but in a different country – makes it harder to confirm when the photo was taken.
Moreover, Senator Scott Brown first told Fox News that he had personally seen the gruesome death photo:
But he later told Fox that he – and a lot of other people – had been shown a fake:
Scott Brown tells FOX25 – “The photo that I saw and that a lot of other people saw is not authentic.”
Update: CBS news notes that 2 other senators fell for the fake photo as well:
Two other Senate Republicans, Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, told CBS News Wednesday morning they had viewed post-mortem images of bin Laden. “Obviously I’m not an expert in this area, he’s such a well known figure when you see the picture it clearly has his features,” said Ayotte.
But Ayotte released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying that she’s not sure the picture was real.
“While I was shown a photo by another senator of what appeared to be a deceased Osama bin Laden, I do not know if it was authentic,” she said. “However, I do believe a photo of the dead al Qaeda leader should be released. Although some may be upset by the image of someone who has been shot in the head, releasing a photo is important to put to rest any conspiracy theories that may arise around the world and to provide for closure.”
And Chambliss – the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee – released an oblique statement Wednesday afternoon saying in part, “when I see the photos, I can make a judgment about the potential damage they may do.”