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Obama administration says bin Laden photo "gruesome"

Photo by WVLT Video

Photo by WVLT Video

The Obama administration wrestled on Tuesday with releasing an image of Osama bin Laden's corpse, even as militants started questioning whether U.S. forces really killed him.

Different parts of the Obama administration offered differing views, with CIA Director Leon Panetta saying there was never any doubt that ultimately a photograph of the al Qaeda leader would be released to the public.

The White House insisted no decision had yet been taken and noted the graphic nature of the imagery.

"It's fair to say that it's a gruesome photograph," said White House spokesman Jay Carney, appearing to refer to an image of bin Laden taken shortly after a U.S. strike team killed him at his Pakistani compound.

The disclosure of images could provide further closure to Americans nearly a decade after the September 11, 2001, attacks that he masterminded. It could also disprove naysayers doubting the death of bin Laden, who was shot in the head and chest at a fortified compound outside of Islamabad.

But critics say such photos are distasteful and if the Obama administration releases them, they could offend Muslims and be exploited by extremists.

"What we don't want to do is to release anything that might be either misunderstood or that would cause other problems," said President Barack Obama's top counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, speaking on National Public Radio.

U.S. officials have said facial recognition software and DNA testing prove the body is bin Laden's.

The Afghan Taliban on Tuesday called reports of bin Laden's death "premature," saying the United States had not provided sufficient evidence he was killed.