Sen. Inhofe Flip-Flops On Graphic Photos, Calls Bin Laden Decision "Garbage"

May 05, 2011 5:20 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Sen. James Inhofe

Several prominent Republicans have endorsed President Obama's decision not to release photographs of Osama bin Laden's corpse, but many on the right still aren't satisfied. For instance, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have criticized the president's judgment, arguing that it's useless to worry about upsetting people who "already hate us."

In an interview with Newsmax today, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) called it "garbage" to worry about provoking our enemies. "My point is they want to kill us anyway, and it won't make any difference if we show them the photos," he said: 

On the Obama administration's declaration that photographs of bin Laden's corpse won't be released, Inhofe declares: "I think that's wrong. The justification they're using for not releasing the photographs is that they're kind of grotesque and that might precipitate retaliatory actions. That's garbage, because these guys are terrorists. They want to kill every American.

"I can tell you now, over the past 10 years more than 20 times we have stopped well planned efforts by terrorists to do a lot of damage to the United States. My point is they want to kill us anyway, and it won't make any difference if we show them the photos."

Like Hannity, however, Inhofe made almost the exact opposite argument against releasing additional images of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, saying it would "embolden our enemies." From a press release on May 13, 2009:

President Obama made the right choice today by announcing that he would not release photos of detainee abuses that occurred in the past ... To do so would have needlessly hampered our current efforts in the War on Terror, endangered our troops, and negatively impacted our national security, without serving any public good.  We embolden our enemies with each piece of additional information released.

Why the change of heart? Well, the last time around, Inhofe was likely motivated by his disdain for anyone who criticized the harsh treatment of detainees. When the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in 2004, Inhofe made headlines for saying he was "more outraged by the outrage the treatment" and ridiculed the "humanitarian do-gooders right now crawling all over these prisons looking for human rights violations."