The Washington Post

Trio of senators fooled by false bin Laden photo

At least three senators who said Wednesday that they had seen an official postmortem photo of Osama bin Laden corrected themselves later, saying that they were duped.

Republican Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), the vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, told reporters early in the day that they had been shown a photo of the slain al-Qaeda leader, which the White House had been weighing releasing to the public.

But later Wednesday, Brown’s office acknowledged that the photo he viewed “is not authentic.”

His statement was followed by one from Ayotte in which the New Hampshire Republican said she was not certain whether the photo was real.

“While I was shown a photo by another senator of what appeared to be a deceased Osama bin Laden, I do not know if it was authentic,” Ayotte said. “However, I do believe a photo of the dead al-Qaeda leader should be released. Although some may be upset by the image of someone who has been shot in the head, releasing a photo is important to put to rest any conspiracy theories that may arise around the world and to provide for closure.”

Chambliss had told reporters later Wednesday that he had not seen an official photo. His office said Wednesday evening that Chambliss “has been very clear about this: He has not seen the official photo.”

None of the senators’ offices would reveal the source of the photo they had seen. All three are members of the Armed Services Committee.

President Obama announced Wednesday afternoon that he would not release a photo showing a dead bin Laden. But several senior senators, including Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), have called that “a mistake.”

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