President Obama's decision not to release a picture of Osama bin Laden's corpse has people on both sides of the argument agitated.
Obama believes that allowing the public to see an image of the slain terrorist, killed by Navy SEALs early Monday at his compound in Pakistan, could put Americans, especially soldiers serving in the Arab world, at greater risk. Reportedly, SEALs shot bin Laden at close range in the chest and above the left eye, which left part of his brain exposed.
However, if the image isn't properly classified, Obama could face a stiff legal challenge from an aggrieved party citing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), maintains Daniel Metcalfe, the former chief of the DOJ's Office of Information and Privacy, and FOIA expert at American University's Washington College of Law, according to Gawker.
Two years ago, the Department of Defense lost a FOIA case concerning pictures and videos taken at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Those images, however, were kept from public viewing after all, when Congress hastily passed a one-off law to prohibit their release.
The US government's reasoning to withhold images of either the bin Laden corpse or the Abu Ghraib prison scenes is suspect, because it implies some sort of foreknowledge that the released images will particularly increase aggression against Americans.
There are holes in the logic on the other side, too, who think seeing bin Laden's lifeless body in a photo will be “proof” that the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks is indeed dead.
Does it? To the untrained eye--everyone other than a relative or close associate--what will releasing a photograph really prove? Would any of these observers be able to positively identify the corpse as that of bin Laden?
Whatever the outcome, the decision to release or withhold a photo of Osama bin Laden will carry with it clear messages that will have consequences in the realm of public opinion.