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. Steve

    I think it is a very wise decision not to display these pictures. There is nothing good that can come from them for the general public. These pictures would be used for negative purposes, the public does not need to know everything. As a Veteran, have you ever noticed it is normally people that have never been in the military that want to see stuff like pictures of people killed or know everything that is happening in any world conflicts. Not a Pres Obama fan but this is a good decision, please stick by your guns.
    thanks you....Steve

    May 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • mgerzenjr

      I have never been in the military, but I do agree that people without a grasp on the reality on what this kind of proof can displaywill demand them freely. Even if we do get them, what does it accomplish? Right now the word of the President is what we will have to accept. The photo is hardly proof and succeptible to manipulation. It would no more convince me of this occurance than the word that have already described it. Again, what does it accomplish. I remember being appalled at the display of the Hussein Brothers. Stil do not understand why that was nessescary. We are so used to instant gratificationa anf information on demand. It just speaks to our, patience, lack of humanity, and distrust as a culture.

      May 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Big Game James

    Uh oh! Somebody said "sheople" again! At least this guy's phonetic spelling is better!

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

    Just like his fake birth certificate.....he has a problem releasing things that don't exist!! Can't wait until he is out of office!

    May 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • donimus

      Are you serious? Where do you clowns come from?

      May 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • BT

      They seem to be multiplying. Most of them are just drama queens who want attention, I can't accept that they actually believe half the crap they say.

      May 4, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. victor

    as far as the photos i say release them the public will then known that war is ugly and we expose these young men and women to sights like this but dont want to take care of their ptsd. so i say show them.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. dmf

    Pakistan's widely circulated Urdu News paper Jung ( See on line ) 05/04/2011 has a story based on eye witness account by OBL's daughter that her dad OBL gave a pistol to Ahmad , who shot first at OBL's chest then at his head , and at that time the U. S. soldiers arrived in the room and took control of OBL's body .

    May 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • victor

      all soldiers and sailors that die have an autopsy done and i am sure there was one on osama so that would have been answered with the caliper of round that killed him aamerican or other wise.

      May 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. catbayou

    I personally am glad the pictures are not going to be released as I think we have spent enough time hearing about this terriorist. I would enjoy hearing some good constructive news for a change. Surely there is something to disclose other then tornado's, floods, killings, crimes etc. How about like Robin says " Good Morning Sunshine" now there is a good quote..As for the pictures of Osama I am sure they would be prepared for the press and I am proud of the men and women that managed to finally destroy evil. I have to agree with our President, they more then likely would or could mean more terror attacks. Osama is GONE and that is that.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. jake

    I don't know what the prob is,they didn't hav prob showing our brothers n sisters dying in 9 11 videos.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. jlfenton

    Why can't we just drop this? The President has decided not to show the picture and yet everyone of your reports continues to describe how graphic and gory the puictures are. Our soldiers still stand in harms way. No one wants to hear your opinions about how graphic the pictures might be. You sound more and more like Fox everyday!

    May 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Julie howerton

    We had no choice but to have the images of 9/11 burned into our brains forever- and the terrorists got to gloat and view their dirty work
    - but now we don't get the opportunity to do the same. Really ???

    May 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. spc williams larry from fort hood

    sense there is tight lips with the speaker and not the press can obama give his speaker of his emotions on why is his reaction to be determind or discovered of acknowledging his efforts for americas safety.??? some one answer me back cnn or cia director where those answers and stop trying to pry for something you know is not going to happen get the side of the box not the volume of it. . .

    May 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • BT

      I have no idea what you just said.

      May 4, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. j.r. mole

    The bottom line is that OBL no longer matters. Let's move on to real change, a better world for all.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Melissa

    Right and wise decision not to show the photos. We all know Bin Laden is killed for the crime he committed against so many innocent civilians. Justice is done. There is no need to use the graphic photos to prove it further.

    We do not need to inflame the hatred of Bin Laden supporters further against the US and also we want the world to have fewer Bin Laden sympathizers.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tyler

      Pics or no pics it's going to happen, who cares what the rest of the world thinks. When they get a victory over their enemies we'd expect them to gloat just like the terrorists did on 9/11. Show em so we can see obama isn't the liar we all know he is. His advisers are advising him and obama is listening to them either way which means obama isn't running the show anyway. More than likely if they didn't really kill OBL obama will turn tail and say that he was only going on the advise of his advisors and had no idea they were giving him false info... He'll only take credit for the kill when it comes time for re-election or play off the whole issue later. Where he was anti-war to get into office, he'll be pro-war to stay in it. Typical policitian. If you don't want to see the pictures don't watch the news, TV or internet because there's far too much violence in the world. Get your head out of the sand and into the real world. You do know that chickens were alive too, but you look at their dead corpses every day when you buy KFC...This whole world has been sheltered from what goes on in the real world. Burgers used to be cows you know and people die in war every day with their brains spattered all over the ground. The real world looks NOTHING like TV portrays. Go into a real mourge one day and you'll see it's not all silver wall coffins...it's a cart with two bodies stacked up on it in a freezer just like the one you have in your local fast food joint. The bodies that are in the mourge are also not embalmed, the blood is still in the corpse and tends to run out of the eyes and nose. THAT'S the real world. Get used to it. You'll see one of your loved ones dead one day and you'll understand why we say SHOW THE PICS OR GET OUT OBAMA!

      May 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. becbec

    I say stop with all the crap about not showing Osama's picture and how was this and that done ..He is dead now let people try to get on with their lives ..Our president needs to focus on getting GAS prices down so we the people can work and feed our children .

    May 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • ms1234

      Really glad to hear this announcement. The word of the Navy SEALs is good enough for me and should be for the rest of the world as well. Very wise decision here.

      May 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kathy Houston

    Don't believe bin Laden is really dead? Why, then, not expect HIM to produce a picture of himself, proving to us that he is actually still alive?! I see enough gratuitous and grisly violence through 'news' and 'entertainment' – I certainly don't need to see this! If proof is needed, why not assemble a group of congressmen representing all political persuasions, as well as some foreign dignitaries and others who are willing to voluntarily examine the photos and other evidence, and form a consensus whether he was truly killed? That would be evidence enough for me.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. M.EMM

    Hmm. there wasn't problems showing people fall out of buildings during 911.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • LD

      Your comments shows a total lack of understanding...The press released the 9/11 pictures that they photo/filmed (and some people feel the ones that they continued to show over and over again was WRONG), the Fed Gov't has the photo/film of OBL and they has chose not to release them to the press. If the press had them they would release them and show it over and over again...just for ratings and to please the idiots out there that think this is somehow helpful.

      May 4, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
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