Obama right, Graham wrong on bin Laden photos

Meant to blog about this all day, but wanted to do a little research first. I’m out of time, and before the day ends, I’m just going to throw it out there…

I was disappointed by Lindsey Graham’s criticism of the Obama administration for deciding not to release photos of Osama bin Laden’s bullet-riddled body:

WASHINGTON — Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., criticized President Barack Obama’s decision Wednesday not to release death photos of terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Graham on Monday had congratulated Obama on Sunday’s daring raid that killed the al-Qaida leader, but he said withholding photos of bin Laden’s corpse would raise questions about whether he is really dead.

“The whole purpose of sending our soldiers into the compound, rather than (delivering) an aerial bombardment, was to obtain indisputable proof of bin Laden’s death,” Graham said.

“I know bin Laden is dead, but the best way to protect our decisions overseas is to prove that fact to the rest of the world,” the second-term senator said. “I’m afraid the decision made today by President Obama will unnecessarily prolong this debate.”

Obama, though, said releasing photos of the slain terrorist would amount to gloating that would only inflame anti-American sentiment and do nothing to satisfy skeptics.

“That’s not who we are,” Obama told CBS in an interview. “We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies.”

Especially since I seem to recall Lindsey Graham saying additional Abu Ghraib pictures should not be released, using pretty much the same arguments the White House uses for not releasing this.

By the way, in going to look up an Abu Ghraib link, I just noted that Mother Jones notes the same inconsistency that I do. Mark this day, folks — Mother Jones and Brad Warthen having the same thought.

Sen. Graham’s argument now is that we must shut up doubters by proving we did, too, kill bin Laden.

But you know what I think? I think this decision fits perfectly with the series of good decisions the president has made in this situation, from the start. He was right to send in the SEALS rather than B-52s so that we’d know we got him (not to mention the intelligence treasure trove that would have been destroyed in a bombing). He buried him at sea so that not one could make a fetish of his body or his grave. Then he similarly refused terrorists a rallying point by refusing even to let them see photos of the body.

The president knows he’s eliminated bin Laden (let anyone who says otherwise produce him as evidence). That’s enough for him. It’s enough for me, too.

35 thoughts on “Obama right, Graham wrong on bin Laden photos

  1. Brad

    I was going to tell y’all what I would say to anyone who says we didn’t actually get bin Laden (the people whose opinion Sen. Graham is worried about), but I don’t use language like that on the blog.

    It was a two-word phrase.

    The second word was “off.”

  2. SusanG

    Did you see the article on Slate saying we needed pictures of him in hell? Funny.

  3. Mark Stewart

    When Senator Graham misfires, its usually a real hash-up.

    I can’t even begin to fathom his thinking on this.

  4. Burl Burlingame

    Rush Limbaugh and other wingers are claiming — I heard him do it today — that Obama deliberately released the Abu Ghraib photos specifically in order to embarrass the U.S. OK, then where are they?
    Actually, that was one of Obama’s flip-flops. After viewing the withheld AG images, he decided it wouldn’t be in America’s interest to make them public, and they still aren’t. (These are the additional hundreds of images, not the handful initially released.)
    Rush also claimed that Obama’s campaign platform in 2008 included a promise NOT to target bin Laden. OK, here’s the original quote from the debate at the time: “And if we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and the Pakistani government is unable or unwilling to take them out, then I think that we have to act and we will take them out. We will kill bin Laden; we will crush Al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority…”
    Seems pretty unambiguous to me. And easy to look up.

  5. bud

    Obama Right, Graham Wrong on Bin Laden Photos.

    And when exactly has Graham ever been right. He’s wrong on immigration. Wrong on health care. Wrong on Iraq. And wrong for America.

  6. Ralph Hightower

    For what bin Laden has done, I want to see photos.

    I do not consider bin Laden to be human, or even sub-human. It is not on the evolutionary scale of mammals.

  7. Mark Stewart

    I can’t agree with Ralph. If that thinking were true, we would be just like him.

  8. Lynn T

    Graham has been in the news almost daily of late, usually with some very belligerent statement attacking Obama or whomever else is handy. There have been multiple attacks on federal employees for doing things like trying to protect wetlands when their job, as established in law, is to protect wetlands. He seems to be weighing in on anything at all that will get his name in front of the voters, or alternatively, in front of someone with a large checkbook for campaign donations. To paraphrase another blog (on a completely unrelated topic), it brings to mind the classical maternal admonition — “that behavior is not very becoming.”

  9. Pat

    @ Burl. I thought Abu Ghraib photos came out during Bush II. Or are you talking about additional photos? L Graham has flashes of sensibility but seems to be walking a line to stay alive with the tea/liberterian parties – disappointing. I must be a conservative democrat or something (unparty, Brad?). I support conservation, fiscal restraint, compassion, deciding for the greater good, generosity where it will do the most good. I think I am pretty biblical in my thinking but don’t see at all where that contradicts with science because I believe the truth of both will meet up. At any rate, I’m glad the pictures will not be public. For the most part, the President makes sense to me and he has done a good job with his handling of this situation.

  10. Barry

    I like Senator Grahman a lot- and generally agree with him on 95% of the issues

    but I disagree with his thinking on this.

    I was hoping the President wouldn’t release the photos before he made the announcment. Glad he didn’t.

  11. bud

    I’m glad someone (Lynn T) mentioned the I-73 project. This is a perfectly good example of the extreme hypocricy of the GOP. Republicans continue to talk constantly about the need to cut spending. Yet we have Lindsey Graham arguing in favor of a monstrously expensive and completed unneeded Interstate highway. For Graham to criticize the EPA for trying to protect our valuable wetlands while saving $2 billion in the process illustrates what an opportunist scoundrel he really is.

  12. Libb

    “He seems to be weighing in on anything at all that will get his name in front of the voters, or alternatively, in front of someone with a large checkbook for campaign donations.” – Lynn T

    I agree. Lindsey also knows the Tea Partiers are mounting a campaign to unseat him and seems to be emulating McCain’s last reelection strategy. Not pretty.

  13. Doug Ross

    Show the pictures. We can handle it. How many people have seen the photos so far? Do members of Congress get to see them?

    Or if not that, show us the video (which I’m sure exists) of them entering bin Laden’s hideout and show us everything right up to where he was shot.

    I don’t get the comparison to Abu Ghraib. We won’t show those because they will add further prove we did something wrong. Showing bin Laden’s photo will validate that we did something right.

  14. Karen McLeod

    I didn’t need Al Quaida’s confirmation to know bin Laden was dead, and there’s no need to exhibit ghoulish pictures. BTW, Brad, I assume that first word was “buzz”?

  15. Bart

    I-73. Once completed, will provide a much needed corridor for traffic to access the northern end of the Grand Stand. Not only will I-73 help grow the Grand Strand, the benefit of a growing Grand Stand will add jobs and much needed tax revenue to the state’s economy. It will also provide another avenue of assistance in evacuating the Grand Strand, not if, but when future hurricane threats are imminent.

    And, to further expand on the side benefit of I-73 by creating jobs, wasn’t road construction one of the prime sources of jobs when the Stimulus money was being passed around? Were budget considerations not brought into the picture at the time? Has the job market in South Carolina improved so much that we don’t need road or highway projects to help reduce the unemployment figures? Certainly, the good people in one of the most economically depressed regions of South Carolina don’t need to go back to work anytime soon, do they? Apparently, this is not a way to spend tax money wisely. It is only foolish when a Republican is for it, right?

    It was great political theater when defenders of the Stimulus bill were touting all of the shovel ready projects available for funding. Now that Graham is defending the need for I-73, it is considered partisan and uncalled for. By the way, where is the criticism for Representative James Clyburn, Democrat, who is also a supporter of the I-73 project? Could it be because he is a Democrat, his support is honorable, above political consideration, and immune to negative comments?

    30 acres of wetlands in the Little Pee Dee Heritage Preserve is one of the major concerns? An agreement was reached in April 2009 to purchase the land for $750,000 for the southern leg of I-73 plus a 10 to 1 land swap compensation agreed on in 2007. Now, EPA wants to vacate the agreement and Graham is criticized for his comments?

    I am not a Graham fan but criticism on this is totally unfounded on either the cost or environmental concerns.

  16. bud

    This is actually quite funny. I’m not oppossed to shovel ready projects to help with unemployment. That’s fine and we have plenty of needs. But I-73 is not particularly needed and is certainly, at best, a luxury. Plus it poses a significant environmental problem. But at the end of the day if it helps with unemployment then fine, build the damn thing.

    But the problem isn’t so much with building I-73 and it’s certainly not something the Democrats are oppossed to. The problem is simply the blatant hypocricy of Lindsey Graham. This road is not needed for the development and growth of the Grand Strand. There are plenty of roads available and with a much cheaper approach those roads could be improved without all the environmental damage. But 13 million people get there now each year so I don’t see the urgency of this road IF the big problem we face in this country is debt. That’s all we hear out of the GOP these days is how we need to cut spending. And with a boondoogle like I-73 available to serve up as an example I say to hypocrits like Lindsey Graham put up or shut up.

  17. Brad

    I’ve always been opposed to I-73, but for entirely selfish reasons. I don’t want it because it will bring more people to the beach.

    The Grand Strand was really awesome until the early 1980s, when tax law was rewritten to make it financially advantageous to own a second home, and condos started going up on the coast like thousands of separate cancerous growths. And it became increasingly hard to get TO the beach, or to get around once you got there, for the gazillions of cars from Ohio and Quebec and such. And then all the extremely tacky stuff that went up to part those people from their money. (And here I’m not talking about the sort of quaint and charming tacky that had always been there, but the high-priced, brand-name kind of tacky that dominates now.)

    The beach is kind of saturated now. Or it feels saturated, because there’s a natural limit on the number of people, dictated by lack of road capacity.

    Build I-73, and the madhouse gets madder.

    And it’s already not nearly as much fun to be there as it used to be.

  18. Brad

    So you see why I don’t write about it. Because my motives are entirely selfish. I want the beach to myself, and no more than a million or so other people. I want it to be a place to get away to, not a crowd to plunge into…

  19. Lynn T

    The Grand Strand is indeed saturated, and not just because of roads. The area is getting bad reviews from national travel organizations because of this.

  20. Brad

    Yep. I always hesitate to complain about it, because I know I’ll sound elitist, very pull-up-the-ladder-behind-me.

    My grandfather, who was not a wealthy man, had the wisdom to buy two lots at Surfside Beach back when it had just been named that. Almost totally undeveloped. This was in the 1950s. He built a cottage on one of the lots, and that became the family vacation spot. Then in the late 60s, he sold that house (which doesn’t exist any more) and used the money to build a house on the other lot. My mother later inherited that house. Anyway, we’ve been going to one house or the other ever since I was very small. It was a constant reference point in my vagabond youth as a Navy brat. Other people have the family farm or the bungalow in suburbia where they grew up, or something. I have the beach house.

    When we first used to go there, it was the only house on the street (or maybe one of two; I don’t remember for sure). The rest was woods and coastal scrub. LOTS of snakes, but not many people. Down at the pier, there was a quaint little amusement park.

    In adulthood, the beach house was the only kind of vacation we could afford with all our kids — because the place to stay was free. But still, we only got to go there about once a year. Even after we moved to SC in the late 80s, it was hard to get there and back on a weekend, with all the activities our kids were into at home. It is, after all, a six-hour round trip.

    So when we DID go there, the changes would jump out at us — the filling of every lot on the street, for instance. The rise of condos, of “houses” that strained the limitations that city council placed on structures to try to keep the town from becoming Garden City.

    By the time we moved here, the little amusement park — which we had taken our older kids to every night when they were little — had been razed to make way for a high-rise Days Inn. My two younger children never got to enjoy it.

    Now, we can still go to the beach house, and still enjoy the house itself, and the little lake. But man, if you leave that street, or Surfside itself, you have to fight traffic to get anywhere. Now, you can’t take a car down to the public beach access points (if you have a bunch of kids and stuff to unload), because you have to feed a meter. Starting a few years ago, you have to pay even to walk on the pier. And getting there to start with can be particularly difficult. It’s not a huge deal to take an hour to get from Conway to Surfside.

    We were there Easter weekend, and had a fine time. But I can’t help thinking — as I’ve thought ever since the condo craze started in the 80s — that at some point, you have to be destroying the very things that people go on getaways for. Sometimes I wonder why so many people keep coming (unless they have the kind of tie to the place I do, and most tourists don’t), but they do.

    I realize not everyone wants the same thing. Some people want stimulation, and aren’t too particular about the kind that they get. They’re not looking for idyllic. Me, I like peace and quiet. I’d just like there to be a way for them to enjoy what they like, without taking away what I like. Which I’m afraid LOTS more people coming there would do…

    Set against other people’s jobs and economic growth, that sounds pretty selfish, doesn’t it?

  21. bud

    I remember that amusment park. Didn’t it have trampolines, a tilt-a-wirl and a miniature golf course? When I was very little we went to Pawleys Island where my aunt owned a cottage. When she sold it we started renting houses at Surfside. One interesting memory I have is the grits cooking. For some reason the nasty beach water made fabulous grits. We even brought jugs of the water back to Columbia just for the grits.

  22. Bart

    We have what we have, so why not expand on it and take advantage of the tourist dollars it brings in? In case no one has noticed, development on the Grand Strand has come to a complete stop except for the occasional project. Inventories of available housing and condos is still high. So, yes, we do need to improve and expand on access to the area. Stagnation doesn’t help anyone.

    I traveled the roads to and from Myrtle Beach daily for a long time. My work required me to drive the roads in and around the area and anyone who thinks the existing roads are sufficient and the problem can be handled by a cheaper approach is not in touch or never lived or worked in the area.

    A project is not a boondoggle if it is needed. Each area of our state has certain needs. The northeast area of SC needs I-73 completed. Critics of the healthcare bill consider it to be a boondoggle of historic proportions, yet supporters see it as an absolute necessity. Guess it depends on whose ox is gored.

    30 acres out of approximately 10,000 poses a significant environmental problem? If anything, it is a significant example of hyperbole. Now, that would be funny if not for the demagoguery of the issue by environmental groups.

    Politicians and hypocrisy? Both sides of the same coin, forged by a need to pander for votes. Neither party nor any one politician owns the hypocrisy franchise.

  23. Bart

    The days of leisure travel and vacationing by locals to the beach have long been over as Brad points out. Now, bumper to bumper traffic, an hour or more to drive from Restaurant Row to downtown Myrtle Beach, if you’re lucky. Bumper to bumper coming in to the beach, especially through Conway and Hwy 9 on the other end is just as congested.

    The Grand Strand no longer represents the halcyon days of our youth when we could cruise Cherry Grove to Ocean Drive then drive down to Myrtle Beach without all of the stores selling cheap, tourist merchandise. We could walk to the beach and not worry about violating a “No Trespass” sign. I met my wife at the beach and it still holds fond memories for us but it no longer the fun it once was.

    Now it is crowded, noisy, and full of people who apparently enjoy the carnival type atmosphere. Similar to resort towns in Florida where tourism rules and retirees move to. Our coastline is a mecca for an ever increasing population of retirees. The small town atmosphere along the Grand Strand exists no more. Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach city fathers, Chapins and Tilghmans, saw to that when they decided to open it up a long time ago.

    Bad reviews or not, between 13 and 14 million tourists visit the Grand Strand every year. Long time regulars like Brad and myself might not like what it has become but again, it is what we have.

  24. Lynn T

    It isn’t selfish, it is realistic. They are destroying the things that people go to the coast for, a sense of something special and beautiful and fundamentally wild, even if highly developed. Those who just want stimulation might as well be in a destination resort designed for that purpose in the middle of Nebraska. It is time to look to other sources of jobs and economic growth for South Carolina. We need to make sure that the port of Charleston remains competitive. We can’t keep “growing” the Grand Strand, because there is only so much of it there, and it is fully occupied.

  25. Brad

    Yes, Bud, that’s the place! And beach water made the best grits ever!

    And then they fixed the water. It doesn’t taste so nasty any more, but it doesn’t make great grits any more.

    For those of you who never had beach grits, the consistency was entirely different — very creamy — and the flavor much richer and more appealing than normal.

    For awhile after they “fixed” the water, you could still get jugs of the old stuff from somewhere in town. But I don’t know if you can anymore; I haven’t investigated it lately.

    My mother knows a trick to make grits sort of like that, using a bit of baking soda or something. I think it must have something to do with the pH balance…

  26. Brad

    I like the way Lynn put that. Yes, you could put all that trashy stuff anywhere — in Nebraska, or wherever. Most of it has little to do with being AT THE BEACH. In fact, Gatlinburg and some other places inland are very much like that. I just hate that they had to bring all this stuff to the beach and go so far toward ruining it. Because it was a very naturally beautiful place without it. Why do they do this to the beautiful places? If they’d do it to ugly, unappealing places, it might be an improvement — and it seems to me that the attractions, to those who are attracted, would be the same.

  27. bud

    I used to take my kids to Myrtle Beach in the early 2000s before the Pavilion closed. I was talking to my youngest daughter the other day and I told her that the Dixie Stampede was closing. She said that Myrtle Beach has really gone down hill since we used to go there 7-8 years ago. I think we can mark the end of the good ole days of Myrtle Beach the day they tore the Pavilion down.

    Since it’s already gone we may as well exploit it for the cash cow that it is. But we don’t need to destroy hundreds of acres of wetlands and add $2b to the national debt to do so. We can spend about a fourth of that to widen 378, SC-9 and make improvement to 501 that will accomplish the same thing.

  28. Doug Ross

    To paraphrase Yogi Berra: “Nobody goes to Myrtle Beach any more. It’s too crowded.”

  29. Ralph Hightower

    I disagree with @MarkStewart.

    Does bin Laden have any redeeming characteristics? Can it be redeemed?

    I whole heartedly agree with POTUS #43, George Bush Jr, that it is pure evil.

    I remember September 11, 2001. I was listening to the radio when I heard about a plane crash into one of the World Trade Centers. I went to watch TV and saw, via live TV, a second plane plow into the other World Trade Center. I said to myself “al-Qaeda” without hesitation. It has been notorious for terrorist attacks against the US: the 1993 “van bomb” of the World Trade Center, the USS Cole attack.

    I saw the death and destruction on TV in NYC NY. the Pentagon, and in PA. Thank God that those passengers on United 93 said “HELL NO!”

    Could I have your thoughts as a Catholic about bin Laden? Is it the devil?

    So Mark, please tell me about redeeming qualities that Osama bin Laden has.

    I’m listening.

  30. SusanG

    We always stay south of Murrell’s Inlet, and it’s still very nice down there. We walk on the uncrowded beach and watch the fireworks at night from our porch. There’s about 20 of us including kids in one house and it’s the hightlight of our year.

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