Obama won't release bin Laden photos, White House says
Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda's leader, seen in an undated photo.
May 4th, 2011
09:27 PM ET

Obama won't release bin Laden photos, White House says

[Updated at 9:27 p.m. ET] Reuters on Wednesday published photos - taken after Monday morning's raid on a Pakistan compound where the United States says its forces killed Osama bin Laden - showing three men lying dead in pools of blood.

One of the dead men bears a family resemblance to bin Laden, but there was no confirmation of his identity. Besides bin Laden, an adult son of the al Qaeda leader, two al Qaeda couriers and a woman were killed in Monday's attack by U.S. commandos, according to American officials.

Reuters says the photos were taken by a Pakistani security official about an hour after U.S. forces left bin Laden's compound and that it is confident of the authenticity of the purchased images. The U.S. commandos took bin Laden's body with them, U.S. officials have said.


MORE: No bin Laden photo release, White House says
CONGRESS: Lawmakers' reaction to photo decision
PAKISTAN: Angry reaction to tone of U.S. questions


[Updated at 8:27 p.m. ET] Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN that Osama bin Laden was near some weapons when U.S. forces shot him in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

"He was right there and going to get those arms. You really can't take a chance," Feinstein told CNN's John King.

Previously, a U.S. official said bin Laden was unarmed but was making a threatening move when he was shot. When asked if bin Laden tried to grab a weapon or physically attack a commando, the official would only say, "he didn't hold up his hands and surrender."

A different U.S. official who has seen military reports of the raid said bin Laden was "moving" at the time he was initially shot. But the official declined to describe the movements more specifically, CNN's Barbara Starr reported.

[Updated at 7:51 p.m. ET] Several U.S. senators who said they saw a photograph of Osama bin Laden after he was shot now say they cannot be sure whether the photo was authentic.

These senators had described the photo to reporters and were using it to help form their opinion on whether President Barack Obama should release pictures of the dead al Qaeda leader. Fake photographs of a dead bin Laden have been circulating the Internet.

[Updated at 7:38 p.m. ET] In addition to computer equipment, U.S. commandos took from Osama bin Laden's compound five cell phones, audio and video equipment, "lots" of paper documents and about five guns, including AK-47s and pistols, a U.S. official told CNN homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve.

The objects were "hiding in plain sight," according to the official, who described the material as a treasure trove of information.

A senior U.S. official previously told CNN that the haul included 10 hard drives, five computers and more than 100 storage devices, such as disks, DVDs and thumb drives, a senior U.S. official told CNN.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said of evidence taken from the residence: "As we glean information from that material, we will make appropriate decisions with regard to who might we add to the terrorist watch list, the no fly list, all those things."

[Updated at 6:43 p.m. ET] Although the pros and cons of releasing the photos of a dead Osama Bin Laden were debated at the White House, a senior administration official says that the discussions were "not at all contentious."

The official admitted that "leaks are possible," but said that did not sway the president from reaching his decision

[Updated at 5:08 p.m. ET] Osama bin Laden was "moving" at the time he was initially shot, according to a U.S. official who has seen military reports of the Monday morning incident in Abbottabad, Pakistan. But the official declined to describe the movements more specifically, CNN's Barbara Starr reports.

Previously, another U.S. official said bin Laden was unarmed but was making a threatening move when he was shot. When asked if bin Laden tried to grab a weapon or physically attack a commando, the official would only say, "he didn't hold up his hands and surrender."

[Updated at 4:25 p.m. ET] When President Barack Obama visits New York City's "ground zero" on Thursday, he will take part in a ceremony and meet with families of September 11 victims, but he will not make remarks, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

The site is where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood. The towers fell on September 11, 2001, when al Qaeda hijackers flew commercial planes into them.

Former President George W. Bush was invited to attend, but declined to join Obama.

"President Bush will not be in attendance on Thursday," Bush spokesman David Sherzer said. "He appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight. He continues to celebrate with all Americans this important victory in the war on terror."

[Updated at 3:36 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama a few minutes ago praised the military mission that killed Osama bin Laden, saying "the terrorist who started this war and took so many innocent lives learned that America does not forget."

Obama spoke at a White House event for the Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride, which raises money for injured war veterans.

[Updated at 3:21 p.m. ET] U.S. Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House committee on homeland security, released a statement saying he understands and will not oppose President Barack Obama's decision to not release photos of a dead Osama bin Laden.

"While I have said that a photo release may be a good way to combat the predictable conspiracy theories about bin Laden's death, this is a decision for the president to make, and I respect his decision," King, R-New York, said.

[Updated at 3:13 p.m. ET] The U.S. Navy SEALs who raided Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan "had the authority to kill (bin Laden) unless he offered to surrender," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday.

If bin Laden surrendered, the team was required to accept it if that could happen safely, Carney said. He provided no additional details on what occurred inside the compound when bin Laden was killed.

There was no question that the operation was lawful, Carney told reporters, adding that "consistent with the laws of war, bin Laden's surrender would have been accepted if feasible."

"I think it's entirely appropriate given the circumstances that he was brought to justice the way he was," Carney said.

[Updated at 3:02 p.m. ET] More congressional reaction to President Barack Obama's decision not to release photos of a dead Osama bin Laden: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, "supports the president's decision," Boehner's spokesman Michael Steel told CNN Wednesday.

But Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican former Marine who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, disagreed with the decision. "As Americans we deserve to see them," he said.

[Updated at 2:52 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama's decision to not release photos of a dead Osama bin Laden came after a lengthy discussion with top Cabinet and security officials, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, reiterating "there is no doubt we killed Osama bin Laden."

Recapping what Carney said about some of the reasons: Obama was worried that graphic photos of bin Laden's body could incite violence or be used as propaganda by America's enemies, and he wanted to avoid a perception of U.S. gloating. Carney cited an interview that Obama did with CBS's "60 Minutes" earlier today when providing the reasons.

[Updated at 2:40 p.m. ET] Shortly before the White House press secretary confirmed that President Barack Obama has decided not to release photos of a dead Osama bin Laden, a senior Democratic official close to the White House told CNN that the president was "never in favor" of releasing the pictures.

Obama felt that releasing the photos was unnecessary given the fact that so few credible voices have questioned the death, and that the conspiracy theorists would never be satisfied, the official said, according to CNN's Ed Henry.

[Updated at 2:36 p.m. ET] One reason why President Barack Obama decided not to release photos of a dead Osama bin Laden is that Obama believes such graphic photos could incite violence or be used as propaganda by America's enemies, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, citing an interview that Obama did earlier today with CBS's "60 Minutes."

"We don't trot out this stuff as trophies," Obama told "60 Minutes," according to Carney.

Carney said the United States has conclusive proof that bin Laden has dead, citing DNA evidence, facial recognition evidence and his identification by others at the compound where he was killed. Obama, according to Carney, told "60 Minutes" that the United States has monitored worldwide reaction, and that there is no doubt even among al Qaeda members that bin Laden is dead.

[Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama has decided not to release photos of a dead Osama bin Laden, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has confirmed in a press briefing.

[Updated at 2:07 p.m. ET] U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House minority whip, has told reporters he supports the president's reported decision not to release photos of a dead Osama bin Laden.

"In my opinion, there's no end served by releasing a picture of someone who's been killed," Hoyer told reporters Wednesday afternoon. "I think there's absolute proof that Osama bin Laden was, in fact, the person that was taken into custody (and) was killed in the process, in the firefight. I don't think there’s any necessity to release a picture."

[Updated at 1:31 p.m. ET] The president has decided not to release photos taken by Osama bin Laden after his death, an administration official briefed by the White House told CNN.

[Updated at 1:27 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama does not plan to release photos of Osama bin Laden to prove his death, CBS News said on Twitter on Wednesday. Obama made the comment to "60 Minutes," the network said.

[Updated at 11:28 a.m. ET] Osama bin Laden had 500 Euros (about $745) in cash and two telephone numbers sewn into his clothing when he was killed, a congressional source present at a classified briefing on the operation Tuesday told CNN Wednesday.

[Updated at 11:16 a.m. ET] One of Osama bin Laden's daughters has told Pakistani interrogators that she saw her father be shot and killed by U.S. forces, a senior Pakistani intelligence source said Wednesday.

The daughter, believed to be 12 or 13 years old, was among those left behind at the compound after Monday's U.S. raid, the source said.

[Posted at 10:34 a.m. ET] Some people left at the compound after the killing of Osama bin Laden are in Pakistani custody and are being interrogated,  a senior Pakistani intelligence source said Wednesday.

There were eight or nine children left behind, including a daughter of bin Laden who has told Pakistani interrogators that she saw her father be shot, the official said.

soundoff (625 Responses)
  1. Que triste

    Its really too bad he procreated so so so so many times.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. mcmurdo

    Too bad she didn't get to see the people jumping from the towers . Why are you even printig this BS. The guy was a murdering thug. Who cares if he was armed or not.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Lee Mills

    Would you have made these comments about Osama's daughter the day after 911......

    May 4, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Lee

    What do you expect when a coward cloaks himself in women and children, he would gladly sacrifice these people to save himself. No one is sad this loser is dead

    May 4, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • questioning4

      Well said.

      May 4, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Truth Seeker

    Pak authorities vainly tries facesaving their multiple standards.
    The OBL residence facility clearly indicates big EMPTY compounds on either side without any trees or gardening where helicopter can easily land. It is very much likely that OBL was brought first time to this compound probably at night in a military helicopter from his previous hideout. The compounds were left empty for an easy escape route.
    Please don't believe in what they do or say.

    May 4, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Roger Dade

    Why didn't the US take OBL's wife with them? It would seem she would be a huge intelligence trove.

    She could ID who in Pakistan was helping OBL locally. Now the Pakistani's have her and they will shut her up unless our intelligence people are right there.

    If we didn't tell Pakistan about the operation until after we left Pakistan, how did the Pakistani's know to be there to get her before she could escape?

    May 4, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Judy

      I agree Roger...... Its just too fishy! Something just isnt right with this. Like I said ...I dont think hes dead. it all seemed to easy ?

      May 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rennie

    That guy Osama was a wholesale murder who killed thousands just to be prominent. The daughter should bare her grief just as friends & families of 9/11 victims did.

    May 4, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Patriot

    So glad OBL is dead! Can't wait to see the pictures! I told Obama that my tax dollars slows fund the raid and I wanna see what I paid for, release the pictures, release the video!

    May 4, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Lucky

    We never heard OBL speak a single word and now they want us to believe he dead

    May 4, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Frank

    People of the United States of America and President Obama,
    We need to enligthen the Pakistani Government of the old American saying
    "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.....it's a DUCK!" It is time to treat Pakistan as and enemy state.Cut off all Finacial,Military and Humanitarian AId.
    The same thing with the Afganistan Govt.Withdraw our Ambassadors and staff from both countries,it is time to make a point.Finding and KILLING OBL proves we need no one elses help as no counrty in that region can be trusted since they are all hugely corrupt!

    May 4, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Future Historian

      I wish that were true, but we do need others we cannot do it alone. Can you believe this Tarek Hamzi clown? Wanta be Terrorist, go practice suicide bombing with your butt buddies.

      May 4, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. nur amabo nur

    Our military is fighting for this !!! U tu be ( mass arrests, tear gas, sound weapons used against W I U students). Police in full riot gear beating college students during annual street party, THIS IS OUTRAGOUS !!!

    May 4, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Frank

    Tarek,
    Since I have some connection with the U.S. Government,let me inform you that if there is another 911 event in the United States.even if President Obama is in power,Mecca will be Vaporized by at least 100 Kiloton Nuclear Weapon then Tehran will vanish next,so think at least 4X before you make any more threats.

    May 4, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Judy

      If you have a connection with the Gov......Do you REALLY want to talk like that / mmmm/

      May 4, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. GCB

    I agree ! We should remove all troops and foreign aide from these two countries! They had to know where OBL was and helped him!!

    May 4, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. mary

    It's sad that the daughter had to witness he father being killed! I'm sure there was no way to avoid it though.I'm sure Osama made sure to tell his children that no matter what you hear about me it's not true. And being children they believed their father. But they will learn the truth one day about what daddy did for a living! There are also posts from others vowing revenge for Osamas death, People please! Enough is enough! Live your lives without hate, enjoy your children, family and friends. Life is short why fill it with hate, anger, revenge. WHY?

    May 4, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Future Historian

      Hello Mary, It is sad to be true, these people live on hatred. They hate their station in life, they hate that they have little and others have more, People like this live on hate it feeds them, they only needed a target for their hate and We are a good target. We represent what can happen when you take your future in your own hands and work hard... you prosper. These people don't want to work hard to get there they want to take what others have or bring others to their level. Its how they think. And it is Sad!

      May 4, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Future Historian

    Your DumbA55 couldn't use technology, and as far as cowards and gays go, your type kill by blowing yourself up in a market. Whos the enemy Tomatos? You are no warrior, you are not even up to the level of a thug, you are pig pi55.
    Heros are people who give their lives in defense of others not takeing others lives by killing yourself. DumbA55

    May 4, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Weeziewonder

      You F'ing pig. Why bring up something so stwonderupid as "cowards and gays?" You, are an ignorant moron

      May 4, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
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