Friday, May 6, 2011

Taking A Victory Lap Without Spiking The Ball

Obama at Ground Zero Thursday
(Charles Dharapak-AP)
After the virtually flawless raid by the US Navy SEALS and CIA paramilitary forces on Sunday, which resulted in the termination of Osama Bin Laden, President Obama and his administration seem to have fallen back on bad habits.

First there was the changing narrative of just how the raid went down. Did Bin Laden resist, or not? Was he armed, or not? Did he use his wife as human shield, or not?

Then came the question of whether the administration would release the photographs of Bin Laden’s corpse or not. Initially it seemed like a no-brainer; of course the pictures would be released. CIA Director Leon Panetta said he expected the pictures would be released. The next day President Obama declared, via Press Secretary Jay Carney, that the photos would not be released. We were told “that’s not who we are”, “we don’t need to be taking a victory lap” and “we don’t need to spike the ball”.

But the reason that the Bin Laden photos are being withheld seems to be more about sensitivity to Muslim sensibilities than about avoiding “spiking the ball”. In his speech Sunday night President Obama said that Osama Bin Laden “was not a Muslim leader, he was a murderer of Muslims”. We are constantly being told that most Muslims are peaceful and not radicals. If these two statements are accurate then why would the release of the photographs of a mass-murderer who was not a Muslim leader, but killed many Muslims, offend the sensitivities of peaceful Muslims?

The President’s visit to Ground Zero Thursday seemed to be a victory lap and a photo-op, more for political gain than to comfort 9/11 families. To illustrate this, look at the visit itself. While President Obama made no remarks while at Ground Zero, there was a gaggle of politicians- mostly from his party- in attendance. By contrast only a handful of the thousands of 9/11 families were invited to be present at the wreath laying. In addition, when the President met briefly with the sister of American Airlines Flight 77 pilot Charles Burlingame, Debra Burlingame, he treated her poorly because she spoke up in defense of the CIA agents whose use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques led to the discovery of Bin Laden’s hiding place and eventual termination.

To be clear, the photographs of Bin Laden’s corpse should be released not to prove that he was killed by the SEALS- we know he was. They should be released because the sensitivities of the American people should be more important than the sensitivities of Islamic extremists that will want to kill us whether they see the photos or not. It should also be noted that our enemies respect strength and power, not weakness and dhimmitude. In war you don't worry about your enemy's feelings, you try to make them fear you and make them think twice before attacking you. Showing our Jihadist enemies the pictures of their vanquished ex-leader will show them that the United States will pursue them, no matter where they hide or how long it takes.

My brother-in-law Eric was killed on 9/11 in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. so this issue is very personal to me. I and the families of the 3,000 people murdered by Osama Bin Laden that day have waited almost 10 years for justice to be served. We and the American people have paid for those pictures with our blood and treasure and we have a right to see them.

President Obama needs to reconsider his decision and release the photographs of Osama Bin Laden. Taking a “victory lap” on the hallowed earth of Ground Zero, but not “spiking the ball” by letting the American people see the pictures of our deceased enemy is despicable.