Reporting Mary Bubala
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) – The photos of Osama bin Laden’s body remain top-secret, but Thursday Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger was among a select few who saw them.
Moments later, he spoke with Mary Bubala.
“I saw a picture of bin Laden alive and a picture of him dead and there were comparisons and then there were arrows that pointed at certain facial features that were the same. For instance, the same nose, lips, birthmarks that you would see to identify the picture. But when I saw the picture, there was no doubt that my first thought was, `This is Osama bin Laden,’” Ruppersberger said.
Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger is one of only a handful invited to CIA headquarters to view the bin Laden photos. Ruppersberger says one of the pictures shows bin Laden wrapped in a white robe before he was buried at sea.
“I really asked to show me the facial features, what their process was in identifying to make sure this was the right person,” he said.
President Barack Obama made the decision not to release the photos to the public soon after bin Laden was taken down by Navy SEALs at the compound in Pakistan.
“At this time, because it’s all about protecting Americans and there is no reason right now for those pictures to get out there to make this person a martyr,” Ruppersberger said.
He was allowed to see the photos as a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, clearly a calculated decision by the CIA and the president to have further confirmation out there that they got the right guy.
“This is part of my role to make sure that they did the job and we can verify that this is the number one target, the man who attacked our country [and] changed our lives,” Ruppersberger said.
Ruppersberger viewed the photos for about 30 minutes in a secure room at CIA headquarters. He believes America will see the photos of bin Laden but not for many years.