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Rep. Loebsack showed bin Laden photos, says Obama did right thing by not releasing

This afternoon, U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Mount Vernon) became one of only a handful of elected officials to view photos of a dead known terrorist, Osama bin Laden, who was recently killed in a U.S. military raid in Pakistan.

“As a member of the Armed Services Committee,” Loebsack told The Iowa Independent by phone Thursday, “I take my oversight role very seriously. So, as a member of that Committee I was invited to come and view the photos.”

Only a short time before speaking with The Iowa Independent, Loebsack had traveled to CIA headquarters to see the pictures for himself. He did not have any doubts about bin Laden’s death before seeing the photos, but felt obligated to view them as a part of his oversight duties.

President Barack Obama has decided not to release the photos publicly, a move backed by a majority of Americans, according to a recent NBC poll. Loebsack said he agrees with the decision even more after seeing the pictures firsthand.

“I will say that my initial judgment about our President’s decision and our military leaders’ recommendations not to release the photos was confirmed once I saw the photos,” he said. “Obviously, I cannot go into any details about the specifics of the photos.”

“I remained concerned about our nearly 3,000 Iowa National Guard troops stationed in Afghanistan at this time, and I worry about how potential reaction [to the release of the photos] could impact them. I worry about our American citizens who are traveling and working abroad as well. Al Qaeda has a worldwide network. So, there has to be concern if these photos were released that there would be a reaction against Americans.”

U.S. troops, he said, did “a fantastic job” carrying out the operation against bin Laden, and the intelligence community “did a wonderful job” providing military leaders the information they needed to set a plan in motion.

The ultimate decision to release any proof of bin Laden’s demise — such as DNA evidence — should be a decision made by the White House, Loebsack said.

“I’m going to leave it up to the administration,” he said. “I believe the [Obama] administration have used good judgment in all of this. I defer to our Commander in Chief and to our military leaders in deciding what will pose a threat to our country and our troops. … For me, this is about the safety of our country and the security of our troops.”

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