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Blunt views bin Laden photos; McCaskill sees self on the terrorist's TV

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 16, 2011 - WASHINGTON - While one of Missouri's U.S. senators viewed photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse on Monday, the other senator was still getting over the fact that the terrorist once watched her on CSPAN while he was still very much alive.

In the Show Me tradition, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, joined the ranks of lawmakers who made the trek to the Central Intelligence Agency to view photos of Osama bin Laden's corpse.

While the photos were not released to the public, the White House has allowed members of certain congressional panels to view them in a secure room at the CIA.

"The pictures were conclusive along with the DNA evidence and the Seal commander's word. Based on everything I know, he is definitely dead," Blunt, R-Mo., said in a statement after seeing the photos. "I had all the information I needed but had the opportunity to view the pictures and knew it was important to the people I worked for."

While Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has not viewed those photos, she was startled last week to see herself on a television that bin Laden was watching during a scene from one of the videos seized at his complex by U.S. Navy Seals. An edited version of the video was released by the Pentagon.

"Very weird," McCaskill told reporters last week. "Yeah, he was watching CSPAN, and I evidently was presiding over the Senate at the moment that he is watching. And so there is this bizarre image that's captured of Osama bin Laden -- the biggest jerk in the world -- watching CPAN and I happen to be on the [Senate] dias at the time.

While it was disconcerting to be in the focus of the man who at the time was the world's most wanted terrorist, McCaskill said, "It is definitely a picture that I sent around to my kids -- and they've all gotten a kick out of it."

Both McCaskill and Blunt have said that they have no doubt that bin Laden is dead, and they agreed with President Barack Obama's decisions in launching the raid that ended with the terrorist's death.

"I think the decisions made were all done right," Blunt said Monday. "I have plenty of disagreements with the president, but this wasn't one of them."

McCaskill said, "I'm just thrilled that our military and our intelligence community never gave up. I'm thrilled that the Commander in Chief made a very difficult decision in okaying the operation. And I'm most of all thrilled that we have killed, I think, one of the most evil people to have ever walked the earth."

Rob Koenig is an award-winning journalist and author. He worked at the STL Beacon until 2013.