LOS ANGELES—May 5, 2011— Osama bin Laden is dead. President Barack Obama gave the order. Navy Seals executed the order flawlessly.
As is often the case with successful military missions, it’s in the aftermath where things will go badly wrong.
Bin Laden was shot and killed. He was given the Muslim equivalent of a Viking funeral, and wiped from the face of Earth. One vexatious question remains.
Where are the photos?
Did Obama lie to the American people to distract us from domestic worries? Is this all one big conspiracy? Is bin Laden alive and well, hiding in an Amish community in Pennsylvania?
No. Absolutely not.
Then why are the photos not being released?
Some argue that Obama has some very difficult questions to deal with regarding these photos: Will releasing them inflame tensions in the Middle East? Will it make America and the world less safe? Are they too gruesome for people to see? Is there a national security reason hide them?
The problem with the “difficult decision” argument is that Obama and his team have had months to think about this.
People pilloried George W. Bush for “winning the war but being unprepared to win the peace.” He was ridiculed when he said that being President was “hard work.”
Well it is hard work, but Obama must have had this discussion with his advisers.
The “too gruesome” argument is very weak. Americans have seen photos of 9/11, the JFK assassination and Holocaust atrocities. We are adults. We can handle it. It is not the government’s job to decide how much we can stomach. News reporters can warn parents to have their children leave the room, and parents can decide what to do next.
National security is a valid consideration. The problem is not that Obama is making a national security argument we disagree with, but that he is not making any argument at all.
Forget the conspiracy nuts. Obama is never going to satisfy people who believe that his birth certificate would prove that Darth Vader was his father and Osama bin Laden his mother.
Most people know that Obama did a good job getting bin Laden killed, but they want closure. We may not want to see the evidence, but many of us need to see it.
Jack Nicholson as Colonel Nathan R. Jessup bellowed “You can’t handle the truth!” To quote Senator Obama on this issue: “Yes, we can.”
Obama has a reputation for being paternalistic. He believes in a nanny state where the government knows what is best for us. If that is at play here, then he needs to understand that this is another case where he should not get to decide.
This is speculation, but if President Obama will not talk to us, then speculation is all that we have.
I have always been a supporter of presidential secrecy when appropriate. Presidents should have wide latitude to conceal things if disclosure would put the nation at risk.
If the issue is fear of inflaming the Muslim world, he needs to say so. That argument is a weak one, but it is impossible to launch a counter-argument when the initial argument is unknown.
The explanation may be completely reasonable. There could be something in the photos that must stay hidden. Obama would not need to state specific details, but a general explanation must be forthcoming.
This issue of the photos is not going away. No amount of reality television, royal weddings, or sporting events will end this conversation. This is about one of the most evil men the world has ever known. Unlike Japanese earthquakes or war in Libya, this is not just a story. It is the story.
President Obama should level with America, and quickly.
We either need to see the photos or get the mother of all explanations as to why that will not happen.
In a world of Facebook, Twitter, DNA and Wikileaks, nothing stays hidden forever. If the photos are leaked (and they will be) before they are released by the government, it will damage Obama and perhaps the country as well.
Mr. President, don’t delay any longer. Release the photos and give Americans full closure.
At the very least, talk to us. Look us in the eye. You are known for talking. Sometimes your critics maintain you talk too much and do too little. This time you acted bravely and were rewarded for your boldness with a successful mission.
You did the hard part. Now do the easy part. Start talking, sir. It is the right thing to do.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. After years of dating liberals, he has finally seen the light and now only dates Republican Jewish women. His family is pleased over this. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.
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