Update at 3:47 p.m.: Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ office says he didn’t show Ayotte the photo and he has not seen it himself.
Amid reports that the White House will not release a photo of a slain Osama bin Laden, a photo of bin Laden is circulating among some senators.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) tells TPM another senator showed her a photo of a deceased bin Laden with the understanding that it was an authentic photo the Navy Seals took of him after he was killed.
Ayotte, the former attorney general for New Hampshire, said the photo was not particularly gruesome in her estimation and noted that she could not verify its veracity, although she said “another senator showed it to me and usually that’s a good source.”
“My background was as a murder prosecutor so it was not particularly gruesome but it was clear that he was deceased,” she said.
She would not say which senator showed her the photo, although a Senate aide said it was Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), the ranking Republican on the Senate intelligence committee. Chambliss’ spokesman told TPM his office would not comment on “hearsay.”
Opponents and advocates of the photo’s release do not fall along partisan lines. Ayotte, as well as Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Ben Nelson (D-NE) told TPM they would like to see the photo released to put an end to any potential conspiracy theories related to the raid on a compound north of Islamabad and to demonstrate the U.S. government’s commitment to transparency.
Meanwhile Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, opposes the photo’s release. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, would not say whether she had seen the photo and whether it should be released, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said the decision is up to the President.