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P.S. Turns out now, those photos of Obama giving his 'I caught Bin Laden' speech were faked

May 6, 2011 |  5:18 am

President Obama reenacting his Osama bin Laden is dead speech for photographers 5-1-11Could the Obama White House communications folks have found anything else to step in over the presentation this week of their boss and the dramatic recounting and re-recounting of the execution and really rapid remains disposal of Osama bin Laden?

It turns out now that all of the non-White House still photographs of the president's dramatic entrance down the hall into the East Room and the late Sunday evening speech itself were faked.

They were not taken during the actual event, which was photographed only by official White House photographer Pete Souza during the live TV broadcast.

The widely distributed press photographs were, in fact, shot during a reenactment of the entrance, the firm presidential strides down the carpeted hall and the speaking by the president right after the real event, as reported by our astute colleague James Oliphant.

These staged news photos were immediately flashed around the world for millions to see with varying captions about the president reading his statement for photographers, distinctions that may well have been lost in translations and publications.

It is a minor matter unless truth is a concern.

Which isn't always the case in politics. (Anyone remember the planted townhall questions flap during the early Democratic primary campaign between Obama and Hillary Clinton?)

The Obama crew is not the first to bar professional photographers from a White House event and then offer a pretend presentation for subsequent "coverage."

The concern of presidential handlers is a staging one. The jostling of competitive photographers and the clatter of two or three dozen unseen camera shutters going off at the slightest presidential movement could clutter the video presentation, distracting viewers' attention as welpresident Obama delivering his Osama bin Laden is dead Speech 5-1-11l as the main actor's concentration on his Teleprompter.

Yes, of course, Obama's guys wanted maximum coverage of his proud "I got him and you-know-who didn't" moment. And independent news organizations always prefer their own material over a White House handout.

But to use this arguably misleading photo gimmick around something as sensitive as killing the world's most wanted murderer in an era of bounteous conspiracy theories about the 9/11 events he engineered is naive at best, moronic at worst.

Wasn't this the same president who only a few days ago was finally forced after four years of stonewalling to release his longform birth certificate to snuff an enduring conspiracy theory about his real citizenship?

The constantly changing details of the SEALs' courageous raid on the Bin Laden compound -- who with or without a gun was shot where and when after she was used as a shield or not -- have been accumulating all week.

This is because in their haste and eagerness to positively present the important news, Obama aides didn't gather the facts accurately, missed some changing ones and/or didn't repeatedly qualify their accounts with explicit warnings.

Take these numerous inconsistencies and conflicting details. Add them to these faked photos. Mix in Americans' chronic civic cynicism and post-Kennedy assassination susceptibility to conspiracy consumption.

Then add Obama's subsequent decision, against the advice of his CIA director, to withhold any photographic proof of Bin Laden's death and burial at sea, ostensibly from concern over jihadist sensitivities.

And all of this more than allows, it invites years of possibly groundless speculation over the historic capture, which with better handling could have been celebrated as a clean victory for Americans (and, who knows, perhaps also the presidential reelection candidate).

Now the ensuing discoveries of further PR klutziness are even more distracting than camera shutter clatters to the White House's primary goal of highlighting what one senior advisor called the president's historic "gutsiness" in sending others in to get Bin Laden.

OK, now about these photos. Which one was actually taken during the speech? And which one is pretend? Click on each to see.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press (reenacted); Pete Souza / White House.

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