[Note: If graphic descriptions of fatal wounds bother you, this post might be disturbing.]
The first member of Congress to be shown post-mortem photos of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden tells Politico that "it was hard to tell if the bullet went through his ear and out the eye socket or vice versa. ... There was head matter, appearing to be brains, coming out of the socket."
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who spoke to CNN about the photos last night, told Politico today that he was shown nine "pretty graphic" photos that were taken immediately "after the hit" — the killing of bin Laden by U.S. commandoes on May 2 (local time) in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Inhofe was also shown "three other photos, taken when bin Laden was alive," Politico writes, and three photos taken when bin Laden's body was aboard the USS Carl Vinson and was being prepared for burial at sea.
They leave "no doubt" that bin Laden is dead, the senator says.
Inhofe is among a small number of lawmakers on key congressional committees who may go to CIA headquarters to see the photos.
A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Inhofe believes the photos taken aboard the Carl Vinson (one of which he said shows the body being deposited into the North Arabian Sea), should be made public.
But The Associated Press reports that Defense Secretary Robert Gates today told a group of Marines at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina that he opposed releasing the photos because he was concerned they might be altered and then used as propaganda tools aimed at harming the U.S.
President Obama decided last week that the photos would not be released, saying that they might be used "as an incitement to additional violence." A number of advocacy groups and news organizations, including NPR, are filing Freedom of Information Act requests in efforts to obtain the photos because of their news value and historical significance.