Overheard on CNN.com: To release or not release images of bin Laden's body?
May 3rd, 2011
06:13 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: To release or not release images of bin Laden's body?

Photos of bin Laden’s body spark debate

As the White House deliberates on whether to make public pictures of Osama bin Laden's dead body, Americans are debating whether they should be.

CNN.com readers said the release could fuel more hatred from Osama bin Laden’s followers while others say that it’s only fair to release the photos considering the terrorist leader had such little regard for those he killed.

laxfan12983 said, “I for one would like to see the entire video. I have been given not a shred of proof that we even captured anyone. Sure a picture would be nice, but this idea that ‘it’s too graphic for the masses,’ if you don't like it don't watch it.” scratchee responded, “I can't believe that all this could go down without the President delivering a dossier of proof to laxfan12983. Next you'll tell me they didn't even tell you about the raid in advance.”

ford429 said, “Show the live feed of the kill shot, not some static photo of a corpse. I want to see him alive before they shot him. Otherwise it does not explain why they buried him at sea after only 10 hours when they had 14 more hours before the 24 hours was up.” tjaxxx said, “The conspiracy theories have reached an unbelievable high all over the world since Bin Laden's death was announced. The White House needs to release the photos, as graphic as they may be.”

JimfromTexas said, “Release the photos and the videos as well. No consideration or social value was given to our citizens and other citizens of the world on 9/11 as they lay dead and dying on TV and in the news print. No worry about how explicit that was!” SthPhilly said, “I've had to see videos and pictures of 9/11 and what Osama had done to our country, I think it's only fair that I get to see what we've done to him.” ddiamondd said, “I believe he's dead AND I want to see the pictures. I don't care who gets mad. If they get mad, chances are they hate us anyway.”

Dulcimer said, “Don't do it! Conspiracy/hoax theorists do not operate on logic and evidence. Do not offer any memorial to this guy.” snowbelle said, “Nothing to be gained by showing any dead person's photo. Why inflame anyone, why continue to make this entire scene more emotionally overheated?” Tetrapod said, “They have to consider the impact of such images in the Muslim world. Is it worth it to release pictures and video that may enrage Muslims and trigger violence, just for the meager reward of maybe convincing a few people that he's dead? It's not an easy choice.” But TheDopePope simply said, “We don't need this crap released. He's dead, it's done, moving on.”

Should we celebrate bin Laden’s death?

Less than an hour after Osama bin Laden’s death was announced, hundreds of Americans spontaneously celebrated in front of the U.S. Capital and at Ground Zero in New York City. The images of the celebrations were captured on television and in print for the world to see, but some religious leaders question whether death is ever something to celebrate.

Many CNN.com readers agreed with them (even those without religious affiliations) while others said they are still (unabashedly) celebrating.

Erika Sudz quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., ‎"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Peter F said, “Celebrating death? How is that morally right? As a Christian, I will celebrate when good triumphs over evil, when God's will is done, but that is totally different from celebrating someone's death.” David said, “I don't like the blatant (and somewhat pious) link between religion and moralism this article implies. As an atheist I find the celebration of anyone's death wrong. Did bin Laden deserve death for his actions? Absolutely! Should we celebrate his death like a bunch of 18th century cowboys at a public hanging? NO!” Artemisia said, “I am an atheist. I am a secular humanist. When I heard that Osama bin Laden was killed, my first reaction was sadness. Not sadness at his death, but sadness for his life and all the despair and destruction it fostered. Osama bin Laden could have done great things; he could have left this earth in better shape than he found it. He chose the opposite.”

GetReal said, “Let's face it – we're humans, not saints, so I say CHEER! If you want a moment of silence, take it for all the American and British troops who risked and lost their lives.” Ty quoted Proverbs 11:10, "When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, And when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting.” Joepa said, “I celebrate Bin Laden's death because it means no others will die by his hand.” j01 said, “Morally right? If it was up to me I would dance down 5th Ave with his head on a stick.” Guedde said, “I'm very happy that he was killed in the morning on Monday, May 2nd. This has been my best birthday present in a long time!” Jesse R said, “All I can remember are those poor people on that September morning throwing themselves off of the burning towers. It was awful that day and to finally, finally, kill the animal that was responsible for it is worthy of a celebration.”

Michelle defended the revelers, “The kids who celebrated assembled in a spontaneous manner and maybe they went a little overboard in hindsight, but I do NOT fault them for feeling joyous! This generation of kids has lived half their lives in fear of the boogeyman, Osama bin Laden. They were not old enough to be angry, but they were definitely old enough to be afraid. Leave them alone!”

How much did Pakistan know?

The last of a three-part series of posts by journalist Fareed Zakaria focused on whether Pakistan knew of Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts. In the post, Zakaria points out that Osama bin Laden was not killed in a remote cave in Waziristan, rather that he was living in a large compound near Pakistan’s capital which houses a prestigious Pakistani military academy. And, he says, “It is beyond belief that there could be a compound like bin Laden’s in that location without some elements of the Pakistani military knowing about it.”

So what did CNN.com readers think?

Weird said, “Yeah, it would seem pretty weird if Pakistani officials deny any knowledge of his compound sticking out like a sore thumb. It's too unusual not to notice.” Javier said, “The only thing Pakistan can say is ‘Yeah we were all over it. We co-operated fully with the US.’ What's the other alternative? ‘Yeah, sorry. We've been lying to you for the last 10 years?’” Rob in Atlanta said, “That such a compound could have been constructed five years ago and bin Laden moved in without drawing any attention? Impossible.” Adi said, “Quickest way to earn10 billion and remain relevant in world politics? Hide a 9/11 suspect and pretend to search [for] him!” SK said, “As one of the analysts on Indian TV put it, ‘Pakistan has been caught with its pants down...’”

But AA said, “Have you ever been to a developing country like Pakistan? These types of big houses are every where in big cities. The culture is different and people have high walls around the houses all the time (for privacy). That is very typical.” And Adnan said, “Cheers to all. Pakistan has lost [the] most lives than any other nation on earth due to [the] war on terrorism. Besides getting appreciated for its sacrifices and cooperation Pakistan only gets condemnation.”

Do you feel your views align with these commenters' thoughts? Post a comment below or sound off on video.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (822 Responses)
  1. jim

    I thought back with our last President, that to the world, had said; "YOU ARE EITHER WITH US OR YOU ARE AGAINST US!". They say that the pictures of osama's body is too bad to show the world. I think the pictures that are burnt into Our minds of 9/11 are a far worst picture than a picture of an evil mans dead body. I'm sorry, but HoooooooooAh!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ali

      if he is dead why would it matter. i dont want to see that are you crazy.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |

    Ok naysayers and conspiracy theorist, someone outside the US government is validating the death of bin Laden. Reports from Pakistan media is stating that his daughter witness the whole incident and saw her father get shot. So, someone that has no relation to the US Government is validating his death.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mystgreen

    No. Nothing positive will be gained and it won't prove a thing. It isn't much better than when the Somali's dragged our dead soldiers through the streets after the Battle of Mogadishu in '97 which infuriated many of us in the US.

    The people in the States who don't want to believe he's dead won't believe it anymore than President Obama is a US citizen (as most are probably the same people anyway).

    May 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jean Michael

      True, there is absolutely nothing to gain by showing pictures of Ben Laden.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jack

    Our veterans have seen some of the most graphic images personally, we were shown images of the 9/11 attack and the signature photo of the fireman carrying the injured child was indeed graphic. We have seen images of terrorists cutting off the heads of people and images of mass graves, we saw video of Saddam being hanged, why not show us the photo of the most hated terrorist of all times. We can handle it.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ryan

    I have one question to ask. Why is it that we continue to vilify ourselves for taking out Bin Laden? It makes absolutely no sense. I mean, if we are going to do that, argue about it, and continue to make a big public display about it then maybe we should have just left Bin Laden alive, well, and retired in Pakistan? I mean, would you all really have rather had that? I doubt it. The fact is, that releasing a photo of his corpse and dancing on his grave in jubilation doesn't remotely bring us down to his or anyone in Al Qaeda's level of evil or delusion. We've endured years of them burning our flag, releasing photos of our dead and charred GI's, and countless beheading video's. We've seen the images and atrocities that their vengeful hearts have created, and to that end, it is time for them to witness the images of justice being served to them. End of story

    May 4, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Paul Willson

    No we do noty need to see the dead body of this individual. It would only give the terror networks images of a martyr.
    Likewiase I agree Pakistan should blow up the compound less it become a shrine of sorts. Make a non person as far as
    history goes. And tamp down the fist pumping, chanting crowds. That scene last Sunday nightr was unseemly and refelcted poiorly on the USA.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ryan

    Also, are we really in jubilation over the death of "a man"? Men don't plan the deaths of thousands, invoke terror in the hearts of people, or have sick and evil minds. Monsters do though. So, we aren't really celebrating a man's death are we?

    May 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Don Lamprecht

    President Obama should release the photo to only one other person – the president of Pakistan. And give him clear instructions that it will be released to no one else and if it is leaked to the world and presents bad consequences, then it is all on the back of the Pakistani president.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ali

    You know I am 19 years old. I was in the 2nd Grade when this happened. what he did was crul and unusual. The pictures will be leaked out sometime. just thank God he is dead. Be mature about that and stop with the 'its a conspiracy...' and what not. Be patient.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Allen

    Ok so no dead body of bin laden pics, and no body…lets have a valid DNA for the blood on SEAL uniforn or Chopper deck done, I want to see the pics of the kidney dialysis machine in the compound, they took pics of everything, a passport, family pics within the compound, Hell I’d settle for a half eaten goat burger. Your telling me in 40 minutes they grab electronic hardware and not a toothbrush with DNA on it, WHERE was NCIS when ya need it and still cannot produce one shred if evidence bin laden was there? Mr. Obama I think you’ve been had? I pray I’m wrong.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tina DeJane

    I don't understand the celebrating-Americans were absolutely appalled by the Muslims celebrating the the fall of the twin towers and the other 9/11 tragedies, yet we are doing the very same thing-celebrating the death of another human being. And what purpose would showing Bin Ladin's dead body accomplish-it would just get more inappropriate responses from many Americans.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Elaine

    Pres. Obama and other governemnt officials say OBL is dead. That is enough proof for me. For people who do not
    believe he is dead nothing put forward such as a photo will convince the doubters. In our culture we have funerals
    with a closed casket when the head or body has been horribly disfigured. Showing a photo of his disfiguered
    corpse is unkind to his relatives and simply uncivilized.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    We don't need to. In this war on terror, we need to take the moral high ground whenever possible. Posting these pictures is something that the terrorists would do. We're better than they are. He's dead. Thats that. To quote Teddy Roosevelt "Speak softly and carry a big stick".

    May 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SDREAL

    As was proven with the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate, no level of proof will silence those who are too stubborn or incompetent to admit the truth. If they do decide to release photos, they should only release photos taken after the body was washed in Islamic tradition. While I personally would rather see the grisly true photos of what this murderousd tyrant looked like, it is not my life that will put in danger on the front lines. It's easy to play the internet tough guy and demand to see the images of the most evil thing to ever walk the planet dead as he deserved, fanning those flames around the world will only put our service men and women in greater harm.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. elizabeth brown

    I think that as Americans it is our right to see proof that the terrorist leader of the 9 11 attacks was killed.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • dakota

      Absolutely. We see grusome things on tv and computer and children's games every day-what difference does it make-besides-the original reports say the pictures are not bad at all. I'm sure they cleaned him up and took some pictures just in case they had to be released. The American people have a right to see. Those who don't want to-don't look. I don't believe it will make any matters worse-that's just an excuse. They will continue to war with us either way. Since when does anyone trust what the government says? Yes-they can make these photos up and some will feel they did-and some will be satisfied. Why should we worry about how "his"people feel about the picture. What about our troops bodies being dragged behind jeeps through their cheering towns? We have seen footage of that-isn't that a thousand times more horrifying?

      May 4, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Destroy the photos – no good can ever come from publishing them. We don't need to sink to the level of our adversaries. It will not further convince anyone that he's been dispatched, and can only further inflame the hatred of others against our country. We don't need to gloat over him; move on!

      May 4, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • maggie

      I just love all of these "rights" we confer on ourselves. We have no right to see it. You may want to see it, you may need to see it, but I don't think it does anyone any good. In a society where we have managed to have little if any boundaries at all, the deaths on 9/11 don't have to be the newest reality tv show out there. Those who share the same opinion about moving forward are absolutely right. Some may get closure by seeing physical evidence of a gruesome death; most will not as their loved ones will never come back. Those who insist on pictures to validate his death won't be satisfied by pictures as one theory of conspiracy simply begets another; facts tend to be unimportant. The blog post by Nick at 12:47 is precisely the point. There are a number of things to consider in releasing those photos publicly that go beyond individual desire for such gruesome detail and I hope that the president will carefully consider it all.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Agree, besides the fact that billions and billions of our tax dollars have been spent on this cause and has put the country in bankruptcy. Let's see what we got for our money.

      May 4, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
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