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. James

    I haven't read anything anyone wrote, but I'm sure all have the same sentiment:
    MAKES NO SENSE!!!!!!!!!! You showed videos of SADDAM who had no nuclear weapons being killed. This Menace put an order to change our lives forever....and we get no absolution to this? TELL ME WHICH ISLAND BIGGIE, TUPAC, AND BIN LADEN ARE ON RIGHT THIS MINUTE!!!!!!!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • ipman

      "MAKES NO SENSE!!!!!!!!!! You showed videos of SADDAM who had no nuclear weapons being killed. " Well you got to remember when this was done we had a President with some balls. This standing President is not courageous, and is timid in his decisions. He is not a Theodore Roosevelt, nor is he a Ronald Reagon.. more likely a Jimmy Carter.

      Reports like these in the Media make Obama weak in his Presidency...

      May 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Julie Daniels

    Now, I don't believe his dead..............I guess this proves Obama is a Muslim........he doesn't care how we feel, just don't inflame them.....................I was proud to be an American Sunday nite.................now I am ashamed of this poor excuse of a President..................

    May 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • healan

      Like another person posted, you are the type of person to cry "Photoshop" even ifi a photo was created. There are people who will be anti-Obama NO MATTER what he does. If he does something right, he gets no credit. If he does something wrong, it's "I-told-u-so".

      May 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Stoody

      We are not the type of people who drap corpses on the street. We're better than that. It took guts to pull this gamble off, and it takes guts to decide to not show the photos and pander to all those nut job conspiracy theorists.

      May 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tifoso

    To all you conspiracy nuts: pick someone well-known you trust explicitly and who has no reason to hide the truth. How about Karl Rove as an example? If Karl Rove were shown the photos and said he is satisfied they are of a dead Osama Bin Laden, would that shut you up? If you do not like Karl Rove, pick someone else from the side against the President.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • SnakemanJeff

      Listen you kool aid sippin zombie. This is the tail wagging the dog. Another false flag. Do you understand? Bush and Obama? Same animal. The right and left are a paradigm silly. It's called controlled opposition. Wake up!

      May 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. wewilllwinthis

    theres 3 conflicting stories so far regarding the operation coming from the white house, pentagon and pakistan.
    Also, a defense department official named Dr. Steve R. Pieczenik is going to testify that OBL died in 2001 so this should be more interesting. We need to file FOIA demand for those pictures if the most open administation ever won't give it. Unbelievable that anyone/court would defend the notion that government heresay is evidence.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • SnakemanJeff

      Agreed! This is yet another desperate scam to try and divert us. We know the score. Stay tuned for another 911 now.

      May 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ipman

    But wait I thought we got rid of the most dangerous man there was and the US is safer now ? President Obama, it doesn't matter if you do or don't show his dead corpse.. Service men/women lives are and still in endangered. This will not stop the Enemy in its tracks, the enemy is / are going to still continue to kill as many Americans ... so you and the those who say this will prevent further attacks are just plain DUMB.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Big Game James

    If Ayatollah Khomeni had have been found and killed during the Reagan administration and they refused to release the picture how many of you would take that administrations word? Be honest? And use your pre-internet mind!

    May 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. george lewis

    As the old saying goes if a politicians or anyone involved in politics lips are moving they are lieing,
    Jay Carney is a buffoon and a bad liar he is sarcastic and rude. the government has no right to keep things from the public that we have a right to see.
    I love my country and served her for 12 years proudly, But i really hate our government

    May 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Judy Lutzenberger

    HAIL TO THE CHIEF

    Thank you, President Obama,
    for your honor, discretion and will,
    in ignoring the morbid obsessions
    of those who rejoice in the kill.

    No need to revert to dark ages
    with public displays of the slain;
    Giving in to such prurient interests,
    would be vile, absurd and insane.

    Most Americans are decent people
    who abhor this moronic request;
    We don’t need brutal, violent pictures
    to put this dead madman to rest.

    Please continue your high-ground position;
    It fills us with national pride;
    Our country is much greater for it–
    misguided dissenters aside.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • ipman

      "Thank you, President Obama,
      for your honor, discretion and will,
      in ignoring the morbid obsessions
      of those who rejoice in the kill"

      You obviously haven't seen the news, where Americans are rejoicing over the death of one man. I think we as Americans have gone way over board on the celebration... and gloating.

      May 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. 3car

    People around the world do not have to be a "conspiracy theorist" to not believe the US government did not kill bin Laden and really just captured him. Proof of death is important. I want this thing put as much to rest as can be done. The last step is the photo. Not to mention graphic experts can analyze a photo for tell tale signs of alteration for those non-conspiracy theorist that are just in doubt. Show it!

    May 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Owen

      Here we go.....

      May 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Charles Owen

    When I was in high school in the 70's, there were those that believed Adolph Hilter was still alive and living in Argentina. People are going to believe he (Laden) is dead or they are not going to believe he is dead. No amount of evidence or proof will ever convince the doubter of the world.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rowry

    why would everyone car about seeing photo's when there is DNA evidence, that's sick that people need to see photo's to believe it.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. victor

    there is nothing newer than the black hawk check the specs out.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikorsky_UH-60_Black_Hawk#Specifications_.28UH-60L.29

    May 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • ipman

      Odd that you posted that link ?

      May 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. D Rogers

    Let's get over it. The President and CINC has made a prudent decision not to release these photos so let's move on to more important business. To those small minds that want to see them won't believe they are real anyway.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patty

      I agree...Move on, there is so much more in our government/nation that needs attention.

      May 4, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SnakemanJeff

    OBL has been dead for over 10 years. FYI. Newsflash!. Get a clue you kool aid sipping zombies. They are about to do another 911!. Wake up! LOL :) You sheople make me nervous. You will actually believe everything the govererment says and will gladly let them stick their hands down your pants. You make me want to puke, waving your made in China, American flags, with your I support the Troops bumper stickers. Hypocrites and ignorant fools are what you are. Just goes to show you that flouride does really rot the brain. We are awake CNN. You all look like baffoons.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • BT

      To you believe that junk you are saying or is it just a ploy for attention?

      May 4, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John From New York

    Jacques B... yes time shall tell that OBL is truly dead...

    May 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
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