“This needs to be done thoughtfully,” said White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, appearing Tuesday on morning television. Speaking to reporters, White House spokesman Jay Carney said officials up to the president are weighing demands for the photos’ release against the potentially “inflammatory” nature of such an action.
Some Middle East experts warn that the US could lose the “moral high ground” by releasing pictures. The US could blemish the perception of a sensitive military operation – the fact that soldiers were used to go after the US target rather than a missile strike that could have endangered civilians – by doing the very thing it criticized in the past, says Bernd Kaussler, an expert in Middle East policy at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.
“It happened in 2003 when US servicemen were killed and [it was] broadcast by Al Jazeera, which Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld rightly condemned,” Professor Kaussler told WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg. Adding that the US was criticized for releasing photos of Saddam Hussein in his underwear when he was apprehended by US soldiers, he says, “What’s at stake is a moral high ground which the US has maintained” in the bin Laden case.
But by Tuesday afternoon a consensus appeared to be forming around releasing at least a photo of a dead bin Laden.