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Obama, Fearing Bin Laden Photos Could Become 'Propaganda Tool,' Won't Release Them

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- In an interview with CBS News correspondent Steve Kroft for this Sunday's "60 Minutes," President Barack Obama said he won't release the Osama bin Laden images taken to prove his death.

"There's no doubt we killed Osama bin Laden,'' the President said in the CBS News interview.

Obama also said that for anyone who doesn't believe bin Laden is dead, "we don't think that a photograph in and of itself is going to make any difference.''

On Tuesday, CIA Director Leon Panetta said a photo would be released. However, White House spokesman Jay Carney said during a press briefing Wednesday that Obama saw the photographs and ultimately decided he did not want to make the graphic photos available.

"It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool. That's not who we are. We don't trot out this stuff as trophies," Carney quoted the President verbatim.

The niece of 9/11 victim Denis Lavelle was left with mixed feelings about the President's decision.

"It would be nice to see it, but I don't have to. It's not going to bring my uncle back, but it feels good that they got him," Tara Moccia told CBS 2's Tony Aiello.

PHOTO GALLERY: New Yorkers Celebrate Death Of Osama Bin Laden

It's been a key issue for Obama and one that has caused controversy and debate around the U.S. and the world.

Releasing the images could dispel doubts that bin Laden is indeed dead. The worry, though, is that it would feed anti-U.S. sentiment.

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill called sealing up the photos a mistake.

"It's one way to end the conspiracy theories and make it clear that bin Laden is dead," Rep. Peter King said.

Others, however, asked with face recognition and DNA matches, what more could be necessary?

"We don't have anything to prove to anyone at this point.  Osama bin Laden committed these heinous crimes and now he's going to rot in hell," Rep. Anthony Weiner said.

Peter Romaniuk, an expert from the John Jay College Center On Terrorism, said the President made the right call.

"The photographs may be a rallying point for would-be extremists in the future, may provide extra opportunities to memorialize him in a way that I think might lead to further radicalization abroad and at home," he said.

The White House confirmed two sets of bin Laden pictures, graphically showing a gunshot to the head, do exist. Carney said the President believes the DNA and facial analysis proves the man U.S. forces shot was bin Laden, and the photos are not needed as further proof.

Meanwhile, people at Ground Zero continue the debate.

WCBS 880's Marla Diamond With Reaction From Ground Zero


Andre Wood of Newark says President Obama made the right decision not to release the photos.

"He doesn't want to incite violence and I don't have a problem with his integrity, so I don't need to see the picture," Wood told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond. "If President Obama says he got him, he got him."

But Ian Ferry of Washington Heights wants proof. "People have been wanting to see this for years and now that we finally have the opportunity, it's being denied to us," said Ferry. "How can we even believe anything happened in the first place?"

One woman walking out of St. Mary's Church a block from Ground Zero says she was there on 9/11 and never has to see a photo to believe Osama bin Laden is dead.

Obama is scheduled to visit Ground Zero on Thursday to mark the end to one of history's most intense manhunts and to remember anew the victims 9/11.

Do you agree with the president, or do you think the photos should be released? Sound Off below

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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