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Published: Thursday, 5/5/2011

Release the photos

Predictably, the death of Osama bin Laden has led to a round of conspiracy theories. The al-Qaeda leader's body may be beyond the reach of his followers' veneration as it rests on the sea floor. But the lack of a corpse in custody offers proof of a cover-up to those who are determined to doubt the official narrative.

A Taliban faction claims that bin Laden is alive and that the Obama Administration faked his death for political reasons. Because the cult of the late terrorist leader was so formidable, it isn't surprising that there are pockets of stubborn resistance to reality in the Muslim world.

An inability to accept bin Laden's death among his most deluded followers is to be expected. But that doesn't explain why antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan also asserts the American government lied about having killed him.

Others agree that bin Laden is dead, but argue that the al-Qaeda leader has been on ice in U.S. custody for the past decade. In the Internet age, someone with a talent for persuading the gullible can have more influence on the public than he or she deserves.

It also doesn't help that key points of the official account of the assault on bin Laden's compound have changed. We now are told that bin Laden was unarmed when he resisted the Navy SEALs and was killed. It was also disclosed that one of his wives rushed the American forces and was shot in the leg.

None of these updates changes the outcome of the daring raid. But such honest mistakes have created room for doubt among the cynical.

President Obama said yesterday he would not release photos of bin Laden's body to assuage these doubts. He should reconsider, and the White House should endeavor to get the photos into the news cycle as soon as possible.

As Mark Twain said: "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes."



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