Show the Photographs

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The photographs of Osama bin Laden’s dead body should be released for public scrutiny. The President’s decision to withhold photographs of Bin Laden’s dead body is only the last in a series of terrible mistakes in the handling of the dead terrorist’s body.  Although there should be no doubt that Bin Laden is actually dead, there are grave doubts as to the circumstances surrounding his death.  Was he shot in cold blood?  Was he standing or lying down when he was shot?  Was he shot in the back or in the front?  Were his hands raised in surrender?  Was he actively resisting?

Many of these doubts could have been resolved if Bin Laden’s body had been subjected to the usual investigatory techniques routinely employed in homicide cases.  His body should have been subjected to an autopsy, to forensic testing by an experienced medical examiner, to extensive photographing of entrance and exit wounds, to paraffin testing for gun powder residue, and to other such forensic examination.

Burying his body at sea constituted the willful destruction of relevant evidence, which naturally gives rise to suspicions that there was something to hide.  I fully credit the administration’s explanation that the reason for the hasty burial at sea was the desire not to offend religious Muslims and not to create a shrine to a dead mass murderer.  I believe that the President acted properly in ordering the targeted assassination of the world’s most culpable and dangerous terrorist and that our armed forces complied with the law in killing Bin Laden.  But many reasonable people around the world will wonder whether the decision to destroy the best evidence may also have been based on a desire to suppress the whole truth.

In my nearly half century of representing defendants charged with homicide, I have come to know that the best evidence of how a person died comes from the body of the deceased.  Dead bodies often talk more loudly, clearly and unambiguously than live witnesses.  Bin Laden’s body should have been preserved as long as necessary to gather all relevant evidence, notwithstanding the requirements of Sharia Law.  When a Muslim or a Jew is the victim of a homicide in the United States, religious considerations do not trump civil requirements.  Their bodies are generally sent to the medical examiner for thorough examination.  Notwithstanding religious prohibitions, autopsies are performed and organs removed for testing.  No special exception should have been made for Bin Laden’s body.

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  • tramky

    Dershowitz is right in his conclusion that the photos & other evidence should be released, but his rambling on about the precise circumstances is irrelevant. No one cares whether bin Laden was sitting up, laying down, standing up, or cowering in a corner with a trash can over his head. Was he armed & unarmed? Who cares? He's been dead-man-walking for almost 10 years, and no one cares one whit about anything to do with this stuff.

    bin Laden took one to the forehead. Good for him. Better for us. Actually, though, we don't care about the details.

    • BS77

      During the 9/11 attack videos of people leaping to their deaths to avoid being burned at the WTC were shown repeatedly…falling nine hundred feet to their deaths…..but, oh no, let's not show a photo of the perpetrator with a bullet in him…..what kind of hypocrisy is this?

  • http://bigcarnival.blogspot.com David Paulin

    Maybe I missed something, but this article appears to totally contradict an article that Dershowitz published in FrontPage a few days ago: "Osama Dead and Targeted Killing Vindicated." It seems that Dershowitz wants it both ways. He's OK with a targeted killing (which his previous article stated was in fact the purpose of the commando raid), yet in this article he says an autopsy should have been done to learn the precise circumstances of what happened — as if this were some sort of homicide investigation. With all due respect, why don't you tell us what you really think Professor Dershowitz? That said, I do think that an autopsy should have been done, but not for the reasons that Dershowitz suggests.

  • Dr. Sandy Kramer

    Many have expressed concern that revealing the photos might exacerbate the risk for retaliation. When will Americans learn that no appeasement will change the proclivity for violence on the part of the jihadists. It is imbedded in Islamic doctrine and holy writings.

  • cedarhill

    The answer is very, very simple. Obama wants to spawn another "-er" conspiracy. Bozell has even named it "deathers". This will be stacked alongside the birthers and be placed into their playbook of racism, etc. The bigger the mystery and confusion the greater the deather group and the greater the distraction.

    Never forget, this WH trolls the internet looking for anything detrimental to even a non-person such as FLOTUS. Do you really think they couldn't have avoided this circus?

  • StephenD

    "…the sole justification for suppression is a matter of judgment regarding the possible offensiveness of the photographs."

    You know what I found offensive? Watching my fellow Americans diving to their death because flames were licking their backside. THAT was offensive!

  • sedoanman

    Where is Wikileaks when you need it?

  • kblink45

    Osama should have been taken alive, tortured until broken and then installed at the back entrance of the White House as a doorman and dogwalker.

    • Vermont Yid

      If the decision had been mine to make, I'd have shaved off his beard, dressed him in a pink tutu, drenched him in pig's blood and then thrown the son of a bitch overboard for the fishes to tear apart.

  • Davra

    If a certain group in our Government can watch it happen, and a few can see the photos then why can't all Americans see them. To hell with what the Jihadist think, as they will attack us anytime they can anyway and if this promotes them to do that, it is where they are at all the time anyway. They will not entise them to anything as their Ideology already has them enticed and programmed to Violence and Terror Tactics

  • http://www.ezracanada.org Rev. Roy Trepanier

    As the debate rages on about whether or not Osama Bin Laden's death photos should be released to the public, allow me to proffer THE proper solution to this "dilemma".
    The main argument against revealing them is that it will enrage the Muslims. So what else is new? They are always enraged. They get up enraged, they go to bed enraged, and they are enraged all day. They cannot hate us any more than they already do. So why do we pander to and try to please these raging lunatics? They only appreciate and and respect fear and strength.
    (continued next)

  • http://www.ezracanada.org Rev. Roy Trepanier

    This morning, I believe the Lord gave me a biblical precedent for this. Of course, there were no cameras or photographs in Bible days, but the same situation did come up. ____The incident involved the young shepherd boy, David, and the Philistine giant, Goliath, who threatened Israel. You know the story. David killed Goliath. With his sling and a stone, David "struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead"__Bin Laden was a Goliath to America, having slain some 3,000 of us and evading capture for almost 10 years.____(continued next)

  • http://www.ezracanada.org Rev. Roy Trepanier

    The U.S. Navy SEALS, found him, and "shot him in the forehead, so that the bullet sank into his forehead," just like David's stone.__The SEALS then took photos. David had no camera, but he cut off Goliath's head and "took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem" to show the people. (1 Samuel 17:48:54).__What was the result? "When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled" (v. 51).____I believe that with photos, America should show the violent, radical Muslims of the world that their champion is dead. Really dead. Dead dead.____We need to tell them that the same fate awaits them if they keep up their violent ways. We need a gutsy leader who will do this and not worry about "offending" the Muslims.____Many will get the message. END OF STORY……..(passed on from Jim).__

    • StephenD

      Gonna copy your story my friend. Great way to explain the relevance and need for the photo's release.

    • Steve Chavez

      Don't you think at least one out of 5000 Carrier sailors took photos of him and with him? When they dock, that person will copyright the photos and then start selling them to the highest bidder!

  • Tom OR

    There was no need for an autopsy. He was shot dead by the SEALS. They were too deferential to Sharia law. They could have just dumped him in the drink. Alan knows this is not a murder investigation or a criminal matter but a military operation. Also, the military does not want the photos released. We can do them the favor of not asking to release the photos. It is the least we can do for the military after a ten year war and pulling off a perfect operation.

    • StephenD

      I too support the military. But I question this logic. First, we're talking about…the MILITARY. They are in a combat zone. If anyone is prepared for violence it is them. Should we be concerned that some may be upset? Who? Those that believe as bin Laden did? I'd venture they don't need any pics to hate us. Muslims in general? We're told bin Laden was a hijacker of this “religion of peace” and did not represent Islam at all. So again I ask, whose sensibilities are we concerned with offending? You're right, we don't need an autopsy. This guy should have been unceremoniously disposed of. I gotta tell ya, I like the comparison the Rev used earlier…how the Philistines fled after seeing their champions severed head.

  • Ron Livaudais

    The only thing that terrorists understand is overwhelming strength and perceived strength. By not revealing the photos because it would incite more violence is a false notion. The
    Terrorists are violent by nature and showing or not showing the photos is not going to change them in any way. By not showing the photos though, Obama is projecting weakness
    As no amount of appeasement will work with our enemies. The terrorists are told to strike
    Terror on the infidels, well let's show them the photos and strike terror on them and let them
    Know we will defeat them in no uncertain terms.

  • Ron Livaudais

    The only thing that terrorists understand is overwhelming strength and perceived strength. By not revealing the photos because it would incite more violence is a false notion. By
    Not releasing the photos the only thing projected is weakness. they are told to instill terror on us, well we should instill terror on them from a position of strength and give them the message that we are going to win, and win in no uncertain terms…

  • kafir4life

    Oh my! Wait until bin Laden's colleagues find out not *all* of him was buried at sea. Apparently, they took the liberty of castrating him, as well as plugging body cavities with Jimmy Dean products (not sure if it was actually "Jimmy Dean", but you get the idea. But since he wasn't a muslim, we shouldn't be hearing from the terrorist supporters at the terrorist supporting hamas linked terrorist supporting organization, cair or its terrorist supporters.

    • geez

      I always enjoy your posts.

  • Grayzel

    Typical shallow thinking. You completely miss the point and set up a straw man situation. What Dershowitz is writing about is gathering historical evidence. How will history record this event? We have about 20 differing tales of the operation with, I am sure, more to come. The will also be classified information now. Do the American people have no right or need for the truth?

  • crypticguise

    Mr. Dershowitz's biggest problem is that he is a lawyer. Alan, baby… of course Seal Team 6 blew his brains out, armed or unarmed. That was the OBJECTIVE – KILL HIM!

    This isn't Hawaii Five 0, Mr. D. This is a real life wartime, whack-a-mole scenario. Badda bing – double tap time, Danno.

    Great job, Seal Team 6!

  • Vermont Yid

    What did Osama bin Laden have for breakfast this morning?

    Nothing – he's dead!

  • Rayar

    The Executive Order came down from, you know who! Barak Almighty!
    Oh, the sensibilities on the the left are in a tailspin, one of their own
    acting like the dreded right!
    Dersh is right, its and assination. A murder no less. The Seals afterall
    were just "following orders!"
    This is less of a trail then they left after knocking off JFK. The comparisons
    are messy.
    We have consensus. One man is responsible for this hit.
    Der Leader. Good luck on your re-election, it will enhance your resume.

  • BigPat7

    Aaah, the "transparency" of the Obama admin.

  • flowerknife_us

    Poor Osama the home maker. Three wives who never leave the place and it still looks like your typical rental property. Are we sure the landlord didn't just take matters into his own hands?