Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.) — one of two Muslim-American in Congress — said he did not have a problem with the White House releasing photos of a dead Osama bin Laden.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the other Muslim lawmaker, declined to comment.
“[Bin Laden] clearly posed a threat to our country. He clearly posed a threat to global security. Not only did he kill Americans and jeopardize the lives of Americans, but Muslims as well. I think that publishing this photo — the administration has a right,” Carson said.
On Monday afternoon, top White House security aide John Brennan told reporters that the White House was considering whether to release the photo as proof that the al Qaeda leader was, in fact, killed in a raid by U.S. special operations forces Sunday night.
“We are going to do everything we can to make sure that nobody has any basis to try to deny that we got Osama bin Laden. And so, therefore, the releasing of information, and whether that includes photographs, this is something to be determined,” Brennan, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, told reporters less than 24 hours after bin Laden’s death.
White House officials are also aware of a possible backlash from a release of the photos, if they are judged by some in the Muslim world as disrespectful to the dead or disfigured. The administration has made a point to say that bin Laden's hasty burial at sea was not contrary to Islamic religious laws, although there has already been a negative reaction from some Muslim clerics.
For his part, Carson said that the U.S. should send a “deeper message that we will not tolerate psychopathic leaders such as Osama bin Laden who push their religious extremism under the guise of a peaceful religion like Islam, and we will not tolerate people who jeopardize our global security, as well as lives of Americans.”
Despite repeated attempts for reaction to news that the White House may release the photos, Ellison declined to comment on the matter.
House lawmakers were set to hear from CIA Director Leon Panetta on Tuesday afternoon, for a classified briefing on “the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden.”