One of the counter arguments is that people should see -- must see -- the atrocities.

Some of the same debates took place in 2002, after al Qaeda extremists beheaded the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and published the video on the Internet.

Steve Goldstein, who was the head of corporate communications for the Journal at the time, said he had to "urge the networks not to run the video."

In Foley's case, he said, "it's good to see that the networks are acting so responsibly in this case by refusing to show this barbaric action."