Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Release of Bin Laden Photos would Jeopardize American Lives

As the whole world now knows, the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist’s attacks, Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. Military operatives at his home in Pakistan. Ten years later and after thousands more American lives were sacrificed, justice has finally been served on behalf of the victims of 9/11 and Americans can sleep a little more peacefully in their beds at night. Credit should be given to our Armed Forces and both President Bush and Obama for demonstrating the leadership and resolve to bring justice to this terrorist ten years later.
However, in light of this monumental American victory, I am taken aback by all the uproar to release pictures of Osama's corpse. While it is understandable that the victims’ families would want closure of his death, what kind of uncivilized country do we live in to revel in such satisfaction at the expense of uniting those of Muslim faith against the Western world and putting American lives at an even greater risk?
While the killing of Bin Laden no doubt brought justice to almost 3000 victims killed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the ten years of military operations in the Middle East, the lives of thousands of American soldiers, and trillions of taxpayer dollars were expended to keep the American people safe in the future, not necessarily bring justice to one man.
To release photos under the pretense of bringing closure to the American people that justice has been served, would compromise the most important reason why began such a costly endeavor; our national security. No, the terrorist movement will not drop their weapons and surrender because their worshipped leader was killed by the U.S. We can expect another such figure to fill Osama’s void in the near future. Releasing photos of Bin Laden’s mutilated corpse will not prove to our enemies anything. Will that deter them from attacking again? Of course it won’t. These terrorists will commit suicide by blowing up their own bodies to kill at least one “infidel”. The pundits that claim these photos will hamper the terrorist’s efforts and resolve are kidding the American people. The contrary would be the case. If history is a teacher, the uprising in Iraq after the execution of Saddam Hussein is sufficient proof. Did terrorists falter or lose faith in their cause? No, attacks on U.S. forces in areas of Iraq increased by 300% within days Saddam’s death.
Imagine the scenario inside a terrorist training facility. Young boys are taken from their peaceful Muslim families and forced to join the ranks of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. At this age, the boys’ minds are moldable and can be easily influenced. The terrorist leaders use propaganda to incite hate into the hearts of these young men. These are the same boys that strap on suicide vest and commit egregious acts of terror at the expense of their own lives. The pictures of Osama’s slain body are unclassified and released to the Arab world; being used to show these young recruits and galvanizing their hatred against the Western world. There cannot be a more effective instrument used to rally resolve and anger in the hearts and mind of the terrorists and terrorists-in- training than their worshipped leader, Osama Bin Laden.
Thousands of American lives have already been sacrificed in this war. Hundreds of thousands more hang in the balance in the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. There are sleeper cells currently living within our own borders. Regardless of the reason why you think the photos should be released in the light if this information and past history, is it really worth the cost of more lives? At a time when the terrorist threat level in the U.S. is the highest it has been in years, would it really be the responsible thing to do to anger the Muslim world by parading and trumpeting their prophet’s death? Not only are such actions short-sighted, but this would hamper the United States efforts to win the hearts and minds of the next generation of Arabs in these war torn countries. Not all of these people can be responsible for the actions of 18 hijackers. The release of these photos would ruin years of progress in these countries in addition to turning this war into a war of revenge instead of conquest. The last thing the fanatic terrorists need is a martyr. We should not advertise the fact that we have given them one because of our craving to satisfy our yearning for justice. Trust should be place in our Commander in Chief and our Armed Forces that they are handling this delicate situation correctly. They understand the intricacies of this situation and the dynamics of its consequences far better than those of us who aren’t involved in foreign policy and national defense.
Thousands of American lives were sacrificed to bring this man to justice on May1st. Let us be content with this sacrifice and not endanger more lives by perpetuating support for the un-classification of graphical evidence.

Brandon West
Vice-Chair Kansas Federation of College Republicans
Veteran Operation Iraqi Freedom V-VII
1st Army Division Soldier of the Year 2008


  1. Brandon, First of all, thank you for your service! As a fellow combat veteran (and Republican, if that matters), I have to respectfully disagree. I believe the killing of OBL will be denied and refuted to eternity by his supporters, especially after his quick burial at sea. The radical elements who supported OBL could not hate us more than they do already... I think the value of proving we killed him outweighs the potential downsides. Having said that, I think, based on the information publicly available, we should release the photos. However, knowing that the President and his staff have access to a mountain of classified information that we dont, we have to trust that they've made the right decision.


    Rich McAdams, Jr.
    US Military Academy, Class of '86
    Desert Shield/Desert Storm, '90-'91
    1-64 AR Battalion, 24th Infantry Division

  2. Rich, Thank you for your thoughts. I agree that the radicals will not be influenced by the release of this photo. They will hate us no matter what we do. That being said, my fear is that the radicals will use this photo to recruit a new generation of terrorists. The same young men that are currently reading donating American textbooks in school building built by American soldiers. Many of these boys don't remember 9/11 and thus would not understand the justification of the graphic images. I think that such a picture could be the one thing that could push disdain or passive hatred into active participation with the radicals. Thank you for your service as well. West Point is such a prestigious school. I am sure it was a great experience.