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More lawmakers want photos of bin Laden's body released

By the CNN Wire Staff
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McCain on bin Laden photos: 'No doubt'
  • "These are very graphic, gruesome pictures," Rep. Doug Lamborn says
  • But seeing them gave him "a sense of finality and closure," he adds
  • Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida also wants the photos released, though not immediately
  • The images should "eventually" be part of the public record, Nelson says

Washington (CNN) -- Two U.S. lawmakers joined the call Thursday for the release of photos of Osama bin Laden's body after seeing the images themselves.

"These are very graphic, gruesome pictures," said Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado. But seeing them "gave me a sense of finality and closure."

Members of Senate and House committees that deal with intelligence and military matters have been invited to see the photos. Some of his colleagues had declined the offer, Lamborn said. He did not name those lawmakers.

He, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida and Rep. Duncan Hunter of California saw the photos on Thursday at the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Nelson, a Democrat who is a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a news release, "I've said already that I agree with President Obama's decision not to release these pictures right now. Satisfying skeptics and conspiracy theorists isn't worth inflaming radicals or putting our troops in even more danger."

Osama bin Laden's 40 minutes

But "I personally believe the free flow of information is tantamount to our democracy. Thus, these pictures should eventually be made part of the public record."

The senator said he had "written President Obama and asked that they be released as early as it can be determined that doing so won't expose Americans to harm."

Lamborn said he was shown six to eight photos of bin Laden's corpse, some side-by-side with photos of him while still alive, for comparison purposes.

"He is indeed dead," Lamborn said. "His face is intact. His throat is intact, but his head is very severely injured."

No one could have survived such injuries, Lamborn added.

Nelson said likewise: "There is no doubt in my mind -- nor should there be in anyone else's -- that we got the terrorist who orchestrated the insane and murderous acts that took place on September 11, 2001."

Hunter, a Republican, issued a statement saying that he'd seen the photos Thursday, but it did not address whether to release the images.

Republican Sen. James Inhofe told CNN's Eliot Spitzer on Wednesday that he had seen about 15 photos of bin Laden's body, most taken at the al Qaeda leader's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Three were taken on a naval vessel from which bin Laden was buried at sea after the May 2 U.S. commando raid.

"Pretty gruesome" is how Inhofe described photos of brains hanging out of bin Laden's eye socket. The wound either entered or exited an ear, the Oklahoma senator said.

Many people have demanded proof that bin Laden was killed.

Inhofe said that at least some of the photos should be released, but not all his congressional colleagues agree.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip, said last week that he supported President Barack Obama's decision to keep them under wraps.

"In my opinion, there's no end served by releasing a picture of someone who's been killed, and I think there is absolute proof that Osama bin Laden was in fact the person ... killed," said Hoyer, D-Maryland.

"It is not in our national security interest ... to allow these images to become icons to rally opinion against the United States," White House spokesman Jay Carney said at the time. "We have no need to publish those photographs to establish that Osama bin Laden was killed."

U.S. Navy SEALs killed the al Qaeda leader last week in an attack on his compound. Bin Laden died of wounds to the head and chest.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican member of the Armed Services Committee, called Obama's decision on the photos a "mistake."

"The whole purpose of sending our soldiers into the compound, rather than an aerial bombardment, was to obtain indisputable proof of bin Laden's death. I know bin Laden is dead," the South Carolina lawmaker said last week. "But the best way to protect and defend our interests overseas is to prove that fact to the rest of the world. I'm afraid the decision made today by President Obama will unnecessarily prolong this debate."

Relatives of bin Laden want proof that the terrorist leader is dead and are calling for an investigation into how he was killed, according to Jean Sasson, an author who helped one of bin Laden's sons write a memoir.

CNN's Susan Candiotti and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

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