Why Not Just Let Osama Prove He’s Alive?

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Photo: AFP/Getty Images

According to ABC News, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are both against releasing the "gruesome" photo of Osama bin Laden, and President Obama is "increasingly doubtful that there's a compelling" reason to do so. While The Wall Street Journal reports today that "many Pakistanis, Afghans and Arabs refus[e] to believe U.S. assurances that al Qaeda's founder is actually dead," an unnamed official tells ABC that "[t]he only skeptics are extremists and they wouldn't be convinced by a photograph anyway." At the same time, the photo could serve as "a rallying cry for attacks against US soldiers, government personnel, and Americans in general."

Perhaps, then, instead of shouldering the risks of trying to prove that bin Laden is dead, the White House should shift the burden of proof to bin Laden. Presumably, if bin Laden was still alive, he'd want everyone to know. So let him proclaim his continued existence to the world. Bin Laden has had no trouble getting his messages out to the Arab media in the past. Surely one of his wives could grab a Flipcam and film him holding the day's newspaper and reciting the score of a recent NBA playoff game. And when bin Laden never releases that tape, when months and years pass without a peep from bin Laden (saying something about contemporaneous events, at least — intelligence officials expect an old recording to surface soon), skeptics will gradually come to accept that it's because he's rotting at the bottom of the ocean.

Political Punch/ABC News [Political Punch/ABC News]