OTR Interviews

See No Evil: Did Pres. Obama Make the Right Decision in Not Releasing the Bin Laden Death Photos?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 4, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: President Obama says he will not release the pictures of bin Laden's body. Is that the right decision? Former national security adviser under President George W. Bush, Stephen Hadley, joins us. Good evening, Stephen. Your thoughts on whether the pictures should be released or not because there certainly is a lot of controversy swirling around this city.

STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: A lot of controversy. I think it was a tough decision. I think, on balance, the president made the right decision.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of a -- you know, if they had -- if they are released or if he changes his mind and later releases it, what's the down side to it? Because a lot -- a lot of Americans -- I've been getting a lot of e-mails. I've got half of them say don't release it, the other half say, Look, we want to be sure. We paid for this investigation. 9/11 was just as much ours as the government. And they've already seen horrible pictures. (INAUDIBLE) Abu Ghraib pictures. So what's the big deal?

HADLEY: I know a lot of people think it would be a way of closure, particularly for the victims of his terrorism. I think there are three problems. One, it's a little bit dancing on the grave. It's not the kind of thing we do. We're Americans. We treat even our enemies with respect, even though they don't treat our people with respect. And that's why they went through and buried him consistent with the Muslim tradition.

Secondly, there is concerns. Secretary Gates has talked about concern that they would be used as incitement and would potentially increase the risk to civilians and to our troops.

And third, I think, fundamentally, it wouldn't end the controversy. It would provoke, in the digital age, all kinds of questions of, Were the pictures real? Were they doctored? Was it really Usama bin Laden in those pictures? So I think it would not really end the controversy.

This is a case where sometimes, you know, there's too much information, and I think this would be one case where, unnecessarily, we would be going too far.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you talk about sort of the mystery aspect. I mean, already, I have had these sort of the Elvis sighting type questions about it, saying, you know, Why don't they show it because we think they're hiding something. If they are released, you're going to create that mystery, and if they aren't, you have that, as well. So it's -- I mean, it's sort of dammed if you do and dammed if you don't.

HADLEY: It is true, but this is the difference of going in having people with eyes on this man, him being killed, DNA evidence checking, having the body, having the pictures. I think there's enough of a record that the government has accumulated to go as far as you reasonably can to say, Look, we know we got him. This is the man. And I think we've really got to leave it there.

VAN SUSTEREN: How's that different from Saddam Hussein? Didn't we see his hanging? Or maybe that was on the Internet someplace or someone sneaked a camera in. But we saw that. We saw horrible pictures of him. And we saw the Abu Ghraib pictures. And I mean, everyone -- everyone was scandalized by that. But we saw them. I mean, it -- and was there -- were there ramifications from that?

HADLEY: There were. Abu Ghraib -- the pictures from Abu Ghraib, the fact of Abu Ghraib was one of the biggest blows to a success in the war on terror we had. This is not something where the government, of course, put them out. These were things that came out. The pictures of Saddam Hussein and the hanging of Saddam Hussein -- again, this was not something that the U.S. -- it's my recollection, this is not something the U.S. government did. And I think it cast badly on the Iraqi government, and by implication, on the United States.

So I think this is the right decision not to formally release these. Regrettably, my guess is that in 48, 72, 96 hours, one way or another, these pictures will come out. I hope they don't, but you know, it's very tough to keep anything digital secret in this age.

VAN SUSTEREN: The ISI, which is their CIA for all intents in purposes -- what is our -- how is our relationship going to be with them and with the Pakistan military from here forward?

HADLEY: This is going to be a tough patch. And I would hope that the ISI and the intelligence people in Pakistan will acknowledge that this was an intelligence failure, that he should not have been hiding there. I think they will also take account of the number of terrorist groups that have said that they're going to respond not against the United States initially but against Pakistan. And hopefully, Pakistan will realize that we have a common enemy in these terrorist groups, and it'll give the Pakistanis more intense incentive to cooperate with us against what is really a common threat both to Pakistan and to the United States, these terrorist groups.

VAN SUSTEREN: Stephen, thank you.