“We don’t spike the football.”
— President Obama Sunday night on 60 Minutes, explaining why his administration did not want to release grisly photos of the late Osama bin Laden.
You would think President Obama would be wise to the way the world works. Creative people with too much time on their hands have been hounding him for years that his birth certificate has been falsified and there has been a vast conspiracy to hide the fact that he was born off of American soil. If so much energy has been expended over something as minor as his birthplace shouldn’t he consider that his word might not be good enough when it comes to the death of America’s greatest villain since the fall of the Soviet Union?
Osama Bin Laden was killed by American forces on Sunday, May 2. President Obama told the country, “after a firefight, they killed Osama Bin Laden and took custody of his body.” But instead of bringing the body to America they had a burial at sea for Bin Laden. A burial with no pictures coupled with no pictures of Bin Laden’s corpse.
Government officials say the reason they won’t distribute the pictures is they don’t wish to offend people. Yes, the Moslems are one group whose feelings we have been very sensitive toward. We only torture them if they have valuable information. We only bomb them if they are in our way. We only strip search them if they enter an airport. Showing them a photograph of a dead man will be the last straw.
I can kind of see the government’s point of view in that if there are large groups of people who think President Obama’s birth certificate was forged, wouldn’t those same people think Bid Laden’s corpse photograph was Photoshopped? Probably, but it seems even more naive to tell people to just take the government on their word that Bin Laden is dead. The same government that lied about the Tonkin Gulf Resolution to increase the American military presence in Vietnam? Or the government that lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq so they could oust Saddam Hussein?
The government also has to figure that if photographs of Bin Laden’s corpse do exist in this age of Wikileaks and information superhighways someone will hijack the photos and post them on-line. The cynical part in me thinks the government is waiting for this to happen to extend the news coverage of this story which is a major victory for the current regime.
The Hollywood screenwriter in me has a more outlandish explanation for this entire brouhaha. Osama Bin Laden never existed. Has anyone ever seen this guy? The government needed a boogey man to place the blame on 9/11 and they created a scary, bearded one named Osama Bin Laden. Any time Bush needed a push in the polls they would hire an actor to go out to the Mojave desert to curse America’s evil empire. The actor playing Bin Laden was tired of this role and so his government handlers created an epic death scene for him.
Ridiculous? I guess, but no more so than the idea that a photograph is too offensive for today’s society.