Washington Extra - Of photos and firefights

WASHINGTON Thu May 5, 2011 4:06am IST

A screen grab from FBI's Most Wanted website taken May 2, 2011 shows the status of Osama bin Laden as deceased. REUTERS/FBI/Handout/Files

A screen grab from FBI's Most Wanted website taken May 2, 2011 shows the status of Osama bin Laden as deceased.

Credit: Reuters/FBI/Handout/Files

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - This is not the time to trot out the trophies and spike the footballs, as President Barack Obama put it to "60 Minutes." He has decided not to release the photos of a dead bin Laden on the grounds that they are too gory and might incite violence. The question is: will that decision come back to haunt Obama?

Most people in the world and the United States will probably accept the Obama administration's version that "we will not see bin Laden walking on this earth again." But a few persistent and loud voices saying, "Show me the evidence," are capable of changing the course of matters. Just look at the "birthers" who pushed Obama to release his long-form birth certificate last week.

Then there is the nagging question of the firefight. The first government version of Monday's killing was that bin Laden was killed in a firefight. Then, Tuesday, we found out he was unarmed. On Wednesday, the White House said there was nothing to add from Tuesday.

Does it matter if bin Laden was unarmed and didn't put up resistance? Most Americans would say no. But there are some voices in the Middle East and Europe that disagree and there is no guarantee they won't multiply.

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Here are our top stories from Washington:

Obama decides not to release bin Laden photos

President Obama said he had decided not to release photographs of Osama bin Laden's body because they could have incited violence and been used as an al Qaeda propaganda tool. In deciding not to make public the pictures of the corpse, Obama resisted arguments that to do so could counter skeptics who have argued there is no proof bin Laden is dead. "I think that given the graphic nature of these photos, it would create some national security risk," Obama told "60 Minutes." [ID:nL3E7G4030]

Obama administration urged to raise threat level

The Obama administration came under fire for its decision to leave the national threat level unchanged after the killing of Osama bin Laden, despite warnings that al Qaeda was likely to retaliate. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate panel that the administration had not raised the alert because there was no credible information pointing to a specific threat. [ID:nN04236848]

2012 Republicans to highlight economy after bin Laden

Potential Republican presidential candidates have little choice but to let President Obama savor his Osama bin Laden victory before ramping up their criticism of his handling of the economy. The first televised debate among several Republicans is planned for Thursday in South Carolina, the day Obama is to take a victory lap at New York's Ground Zero. [ID:nNAHO12345]

Republican debate will feature depleted lineup

In the latest evidence of the sputtering start to the 2012 White House race, Republicans will hold their first candidate debate with a depleted line-up without the party's most high-profile contenders. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who has formed a committee to raise money and explore a possible run, is skipping the event. [ID:nN04257233]

U.S. eyes auction changes if debt limit not raised

The Treasury will sell $72 billion in debt next week, but it warned it would have to delay or reduce future offerings if Congress does not raise the nation's borrowing limit before August. Next week's sale of bonds and notes, which was unchanged from prior plans, will bring the United States to the edge of its legal borrowing limit of $14.294 trillion. [ID:nN04188876]

Republicans want numbers ahead of debt meeting

Top Republicans pressed the White House to reveal its proposed terms for a deal to increase the country's borrowing authority, as officials indicated a $2 trillion hike would be needed to stave off a debt default through the 2012 U.S. elections. Republicans and some Democrats say they won't back an increase without an agreement to ensure debt levels remain manageable over the long term, but the two parties are sharply divided on what steps would be needed. [ID:nN04217940]

To see what we are blogging on Front Row Washington, go to blogs.reuters.com/frontrow/

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