Ruppersberger views bin Laden pictures
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, one of a handful of lawmakers in Congress with oversight on intelligence issues, traveled to the Central Intelligence Agency’s headquarters in Virginia Thursday to view about a half dozen photographs of Osama bin Laden’s body, the Baltimore County lawmaker said.
“My first thought was, this was Osama bin Laden,” said Ruppersberger, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. “It wasn't really gruesome… There was some blood but his face was not distorted to the point where you couldn’t really determine who he was.”
Ruppersberger viewed the pictures in a fourth-floor conference room at CIA headquarters for about 30 minutes, he said. Analysts presented several pictures of bin Laden alive alongside the photographs of his body and highlighted matching facial features with arrows.
One of the pictures shows bin Laden wrapped in a white robe before he was buried at sea, Ruppersberger said. No one else is in the picture and the sea can be seen in the background, he said. Other pictures show bin Laden’s face and body.
President Barack Obama said this past weekend that he would not release photos to prove that bin Laden had been killed. “We don't trot out this stuff as trophies," Obama said during an interview with CBS. "The fact of the matter is, this is somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received."
Since then several members of Congress, including those who sit on armed services and intelligence committees, have said they have been invited by the CIA to come to the agency's headquarters in Virginia to see the photographs.
Ruppersberger described the pictures as “respectful,” but said he nevertheless agrees with the administration’s decision not to release them for now. “We don't want to inflame people who support bin Laden. We don't want to put Americans at risk.”