Poll: Do you agree with the president's decision not to release the bin Laden death photos?
Poll: Do you want to see death photos of Osama bin Laden?
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has decided not to release death photos of terrorist Osama bin Laden, he said in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," amid concerns that the gruesome image could prove inflammatory.
Obama's decision was reported on the CBS News Web site Wednesday after the president sat for an interview with the news magazine program.
Releasing graphic images of bin Laden's corpse after his shooting in a U.S. raid on his compound could have dispelled doubts that bin Laden is indeed dead. The worry, though, was that it would feed anti-U.S. sentiment.
Although a fake death photo of bin Laden was already making the rounds on the Internet, the White House had been debating whether to release the actual photos since shortly after Obama officially announced to the world that bin Laden had been shot and killed in a special operation. Opinions about making the photos public were understandably mixed.
Earlier, two top senators involved in national security said the photos of bin Laden's corpse should be released.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, who chairs the Armed Services Committee -- and who has not seen the photos -- said the United States should wait to allow the emotions of people around the world who may be sympathetic to bin Laden to cool down.
"I'd let a little time pass so we that we don't play into the hands of people who want to retaliate with what obviously will be a sensational picture. I would not want to feed that sensation so I'd wait days or weeks," he said.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee -- who said he has seen the photos -- said they should be made public right away.
Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said he was against releasing any photos, saying that he didn't want to make the job of U.S. troops abroad "any harder than it already is."
"Imagine how the American people would react if al Qaeda killed one of our troops or military leaders, and put photos of the body on the Internet. Osama bin Laden is not a trophy -- he is dead and let's now focus on continuing the fight until al Qaeda has been eliminated," he said.
The risks of release outweigh the benefits, he said.
Those who support releasing the images say that it will put to rest any critics or conspiracy theories, while others say that the photos will only inflame jihadists.
Obama's decision comes as a poll shows that a majority of Americans support making the photographs public.
Even as word of the president's decision to keep the death photos sealed spread, the Navy SEALS involved in the daring raid in Pakistan arrived in the U.S. for debriefing, and U.S. officials began to comb through the intelligence trove of computer files, flash drives, DVDs and documents that the commandos hauled out of the terrorist's hideaway.
Obama prepared to visit New York City on Thursday to lay a wreath at Ground Zero and visit with 9/11 families and first responders.
AP writers Kimberly Dozier and Erica Werner contributed to this story.