PHOTO Osama Bin Laden death picture to be released; “explosion of conspiracy theories”

Osama Bin Laden announced to be dead

It’s been 48 hours since the President passed on the information that the world’s biggest rogue terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, was killed.

Since then, the disposition of bin Laden’s body, even the fact of his death at the hands of Seal Team 6, has been controversial to many. Now, in a bid to simmer down such talk, as well as stem the possibility of conspiracy theories taking root, the White House has reluctantly decided to release a single image showcasing the dead body of bin Laden.

According to the Drudge Report:

“…the images, being described as ‘graphic’, are bound to stir emotions in the east and the west, and will likely become the most viewed photographs in modern history.”

“One image shows a bullet wound to his head above his left eye.”

The image will be released as soon as the White House can figure out how they wish to go about it.

More details on the photo come from which highlights the problem that has perplexed the White House – as it did the previous administration: How do we release photographic proof when the nature of the pictures are so incredibly gory?

According to the linked article, there are three sets of images taken of bin Laden from the Sunday raid and its aftermath:

1. Photos of OBLs body at a hanger 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.

2. Photos from the burial at sea on the USS Carl Vinson. Photos of OBL before the shroud was put on and then wrapped in the shroud.

3. There are photos of the raid itself that include photos of the two dead brothers, one of OBLs dead son (adult adolescent, maybe approx 18 yrs old) and some of the inside scene of the compound.

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. On the other hand, this is the one that is most identifiable as him.

And so we continue to wait for the photo release.

Starcasm will bring the image (or images) to you as soon as they are available.

In the meantime, the White House would certainly not be releasing this photo unless they felt they had to. The military typically never releases up close photographs of bodies, out of respect for the dead and a wish to protect the sensibilities of people not accustomed to the reality of the graphic, bloody violence of wartime.

But as this piece from the UK’s Telegraph points out, there has been an “explosion of conspiracy theories” abounding since the death of bin Laden was announced.

The cultures of the Middle East are well known for producing a conspiracy theory for everything, even the most mundane of situations. And even here in America, the popularity of conspiracy theories have been mainstream since the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.

One of the big letdowns for the White House would be to finally have wiped out the ultimate terrorist mastermind and then, through no fault of their own and totally due to unavoidable circumstances, have the truth of it undermined by conspiracy theories.

Will the photograph undo all doubt? Hardly. But I think for most rational people – like those who were unsure of the deaths of Abu Musab al-Zarkawi and Saddam Hussein – this photograph will suffice.

Again, look for an update here at Starcasm as soon as the photograph is released. For those who wish to view it, it will be posted at the bottom of this piece in an update, so it won’t pop up on your screen when you’re not ready for it.


According to the UK’s Daily Mail, the White House is delaying the publication of the photos. There is plenty of angst inside President Obama’s inner circle about upsetting the sensibilities of the public, Muslim and otherwise. It’s a very tough call to make, but I believe they ought to treat it like a Band-Aid on a wound: Ripping it off may lead to a howl of pain, but it’s better than the long, grinding, excruciation of peeling it off slowly. These pictures are going to come out; do it now and get it over with.

Again, Starcasm will bring the photos if and when they’re released, and will be sensitive in how we publicize them.