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Heard on the Hill: Viewing the bin Laden Pictures

Members of Congress are used to seeing top-secret information. But a photo of a dead body is a different thing.

The CIA recently offered Members the opportunity to view pictures of a dead Osama bin Laden. A handful took the agency up on the offer, and they had widely varying reactions.

The first Member to go on record after viewing the 15 pictures was House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.). He told CNN that the photos are “pretty gruesome.”

Intelligence ranking member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) told reporters that his first thought on seeing the pictures was, “This is Osama bin Laden.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said she also had no doubt it was him.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein took a peek but didn’t sound too happy about it. “I don’t need to see those pictures, and no one needs to see them,” the California Democrat told reporters.

Sen. James Inhofe, on the other hand, supports making the pictures public. The Oklahoma Republican also gave a pretty gruesome description, noting that one bullet went through bin Laden’s left eye.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D) said he viewed the photos to confirm bin Laden’s death for “the people of Nebraska.”

Rep. Duncan Hunter, a former Marine, was more congratulatory in his reaction. “Our nation’s Special Forces did an exceptional job and deserve great credit for their work,” the California Republican said in a statement.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told reporters that he felt satisfied after seeing the images.

Sen. Mark Udall sounded more queasy in his account of the pictures. “After seeing the photos, I still agree with the president’s decision not to make them public,” the Colorado Democrat said.

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