"One of the things that I think concerns Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton and I is the risk not only of the pictures themselves inflaming people who were bin Laden's adherents and radical extremists, but we were also worried about the potential for manipulation of those photos and doing things with those photos that would be pretty outrageous in terms of provoking a reaction that might in fact put our troops at greater risk in both Iraq and Afghanistan."He continued later:
"The primary reason I think that the president made the decision he did was not only to protect our troops, but also to protect other Americans who are living abroad -- our civilians, our diplomats and others -- because if these photos were misused, then the danger of them inflaming reaction we considered to be very real. I think it was the right decision. I realize the desire for closure on the part of a lot of folks who...suffered losses on 9/11, and since then at the hands of this guy, and before. But I think this was the right decision in this case."Gates further added:
"I have gotten from friends all over the country copies of the picture that was this iconic picture taken in the Situation Room while we were watching the operation. And they have been photoshopped in every way you can imagine, including putting you know, coming after the royal wedding, one of these had all of us in one of these big, wide-brimmed hats from the wedding. Another had various football players seated at the table that had been photoshopped in."Whether or not the pictures will be leaked or released remains to be seen, even though the President has assured Americans that the pictures will not get out. These new statements by Gates add a new layer of depth to the conversation.