The top lawmakers on the Senate Homeland Security Committee said that while they have no doubt that Osama bin Laden has been killed, it may be necessary to release some of the pictures to erase any suspicion that the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks is still alive.
“Unless there is an acknowledgment by people in al Qaeda that bin Laden is dead, then it may be neccessary to release the pictures, as gruesome as they undoubtably will be, because he was shot in the head, to quell any doubts that this is somehow a ruse that the American government has carried out,” said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who caucuses with the Democrats and is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
“So, my own instinct would probably necessarily be to be to release those pictures, but I will respect whatever decision the president makes,” he told reporters at press conference on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine Republican who serves as ranking member of the committee, agreed that “there will be those that will try to generate this myth that he is alive and we missed him somehow.”
“In order to put that to rest, it may be necessarily to release some of the pictures, the video or the DNA testing to prevent that from happening,” she said.
Still, both lawmakers said they are absolutely convinced that bin Laden was killed inside a compound in Pakistan.
“We had Navy SEALs there,” Mr. Lieberman said. “I, to put it mildly, trust the Navy SEALs.”
Moving forward, the senators said, the American public needs to know that this does not mark the end of the war in Afghanistan and that people must notify law enforcement officials of any suspicious activity, as part of the national effort to stop potential retaliatory attacks from “lone wolf” terrorists.
The senators also predicted that Congress will consider attaching more strings to the military and civilian aid given to Pakistan and that lawmakers will have a lot of questions as to what the Pakistani intelligence community knew about bin Laden’s whereabouts.
“It seems to me that this incident shows that Pakistan remains a critical, but uncertain, ally in the fight against terrorism,” Miss Collins said. “It is very difficult for me to understand how this huge compound could be built in a city just an hour north of the capital of Pakistan, in a city that contained a military instillation, including the Pakistani military academy, and that it did not arouse tremendous suspicion.”
She added, “I think this tells us once again that, unfortunately, Pakistan at times is playing a double game, and that is very troubling to me.”
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