05/04/2011 01:59 pm ET Updated Jul 04, 2011

Bin Laden Photo: Obama Makes Mistake Holding Back Photo

With all due respect to President Obama, he is making a serious mistake by not releasing a photo showing that Osama bin Laden was killed. President Obama is expecting the world to trust his word, America's word, that bin Laden is gone -- but there are many doubts about American credibility in the world today.

Furthermore, bin Laden has been a "phantom" lurking out there, somewhere, perhaps in Afghanistan, perhaps in Pakistan, perhaps in Somalia -- but lurking and virtually no trace of him.

Many American intelligence officials began to think some years ago that he was dead already. A senior FBI agent once asked me, "you don't really believe he is still alive do you?"

If that is what high level Americans in the terror-tracking business thought, what does President Obama think that those through the Arab world will think.

Not releasing a photo of some sort furthers a bad trend of governments -- that the public doesn't have a right to know, that governments are better stewards of the truth and of basic information than the public. It is undemocratic and stiflingly paternalistic.

WikiLeaks was a market reaction to the massive expansion of official secrecy not just in the US but elsewhere in the world.

President Obama's decision to hold back the bin Laden photo(s) only aggravates this trend.

Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note. Clemons can be followed on Twitter @SCClemons