Open Thread: 'Release the Dead Laden Photos,' Says Jack Shafer
Slate's media reporter Jack Shafer has a great column up calling on the White House to release the apparently-gruesome photos of Osama bin Laden after he was shot and killed by Navy SEALs on Sunday. Suppressing the photos, Shafer claims, "infantilizes the nation and gives the White House unwarranted news control." Check out a longer excerpt below the break.
In a world where every form of splatter, dismemberment, and slaughter has found a home on the Web—a place in which tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions have watched blood bubble out of Neda Salehi Agha Sotan's face and pool on the asphalt beneath her head—it seems nuts that President Barack Obama has decided not to release the photos of Osama Bin Laden's bullet-dented cranium...
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the chairman of the House Intelligence panel, opposes making the photos public for similar reasons, saying he doesn't want the images to "make the job of our troops serving in places like Iraq and Afghanistan any harder than it already is. The risks of release outweigh the benefits."
Obama and Rogers' idea that news should be calibrated by the government to ease the job of the U.S. military makes for a First Amendment loophole you could drive a motorized regiment through. If al-Qaida and its supporters are more irate with the United States this week than they were last week, it's because U.S. commandos killed Bin Laden. Obama should never have marked him for death if tending the "sensitivities" of al-Qaida and its allies was U.S. policy.
It's hard to imagine that a death photo of Bin Laden would elevate al-Qaida and its supporters to some fury that his killing didn't. Or, as @knifework tweeted this afternoon, "Who hasn't shot someone in the face, fed their corpse to the sharks, and then fretted over how their followers would feel about the photo?"
Thoughts on Shafer's argument? On the White House's decision generally?