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. Cesar

    Of course they won't release the pictures of the purported bin Laden because the true Usama bin Laden probably died from nephritis years ago and these photos will be a dead givaway. These thugs are quite smart if they can get the ignorant public to believe it and unfortunately,they're succeeding!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Ron Clark

    The world watched as Amercan citizens jump from 80 plus stories to there deaths. I feel that it is the responsibility of our President to show the world the Osama photos in his death. We are not afraid to fight this war on terrorism so stop acting like we are!

    May 4, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tyler

      Anyone seen Die hard? Oh yeah that's WAAAAAAY to graphic for us sorry...How about SAW 1 – 4? Oh yeah that's too graphic too...anyone seen the pictures of osama? Can't be much worse than those movies...

      May 4, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mike C

    So I guess I will just have to take Obama's word that Osama Bin Laden is dead. The pictures wouldn't offend me and they would be the proof that I need.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • David in Florida

      Mike, if Obama's word is not good enough for you, there are several airlines that fly to Pakistan, why don't you go ask ben-Laden's 13 yr old daughter what happened!!

      May 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. nazeer

    Fear from the almighty the only one who has created everything. Without his permission not even air can travel, He is the only who has created the point of start(birth) and the End(death).

    well it was the day of judgment for bin-laden it’s a fact but don’t make yourself gr8 or America gr8. First you need to be more historic to review, about which you are not. First know what is America’s interest in these poor nations why not in France, Germany, or China. They all live and depend on gulf Islamic countries. It is a fact and the fact is OIL

    First look into yourself before showing finger to someone. Do it practically you will find 4 fingers of your own palm point you. It is America who kept bin-laden alive for its intrest for years cross check this history.

    Dear It not a big blooming news that bin-laden is dead, but it is a spark from the almighty “Allaha” that he has lighted and given birth to thousands and thousands of souls like bin-laden as a second birth.

    Creating stories is good to hear but not to believe, providing facts is only way of believe. So make your soul get happy when you see something from your own eyes.

    Obama... being a Muslim blood you have done this... Forget about everything this world, America, nothing is not going to come with you... worry about the life after death.. you are going to watch you birth in grave and death in grave...

    Thought for the day : Every straight and point object is declared as dangerous, and from the time the evaluation truth is declared as poison. But only one thing is need to get into paradise be straight and truthful.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. hushupp

    Just nod your heads, children, and say, "Oh, yes, sir, we will believe you are just protecting us from shock." Come on, this will keep the conspiracy theory alive for decades.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • BT

      Don't think the photo factor is required. Conspiracy theorists will make crap up to gain attention no matter what else is going on.

      May 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe

    The government will allow however, replay year after year of innocent victims jumping to their deaths from the twin towers on 9/11.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sean

    I'm looking forward tio Osama showing up on TV shortly proclaiming, "SYKE" I suppose Obama didn't think of that, right. Lord help us.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Jim Jones

    Well I think the photo belongs to everyone in America... I know that sounds cheesy but if we paid over a trillion in fighting this shizz then we paid for it

    May 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. George Vazquez

    President Obama should allow the release of Osama Bin Laden so the family of the victims of 9/11 can be at peace. In the United States our criminal justice system allows the family of victims to witness the execution of a condemned criminal under capital punishment. Why shouldn't the victims of 9/11 be allowed to look at the death of a condemned criminal such as Osama Bin Laden? It is the victims right to see the execution of the killer that murdered their loved ones.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tyler

      Amen to that!

      May 4, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • David in Florida

      Obama has a wallet photo on him. So, just encase any of the family members at Ground Zero want to see while hes there Thursday.

      May 4, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sean

    Osama is going to re-appear just like Elvis I suppose, maybe both with Michael jackson will do a tour. If your imagination takes you there why not believe it is so. Think it manifest it, right?

    May 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. AJS

    The White House should select say 50 credible witnesses from all walks of life and have a private showing of the photos and evidence and let them report to the world that in fact the deceased is Osama Bin Laden. No need to expose graphic photo's of a corpes to our children.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tyler

      Remember that when you go to watch prime time TV tonight. I'm sure there's plenty of things you shouldn't be watching that are far worse than his pictures. Oh yeah, and don't watch the news of people fighting in other countries either cuz there's waaaay to much gore on those shows...why don't you turn on your V-Chip and get off the internet cuz there's way to much gore on this WEBSITE for you.

      May 4, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chris

    @ sean if your not american, you don't know america. do not stereotype us based on the media you get on your tv. bin laden has changed america in a huge way. it's about closure and showing the world that america is not afraid to defend and protect the world. also many around the world don't trust the word of america, let this be propaganda for america and americans. DON'T MESS WITH THE U.S.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Say What?

    I think killing 100,000 innocent Iraqi mothers and children in a falsified war would create more terrorists than releasing photos of Osama. This is like telling people you're dating a super model but have no pictures to back it up.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jim

    I'm so tired of the media trying to tear down the operation that took him out. Why cant they just report that we went in, took him out, and its thats that. It's what everyone wanted. Why do we need to speculate on whether he was armed, conflicting accounts of what happened, the helicopter, etc. We dont need to see the picture either. It's over, be appreciative and get on with life. Stop trying to create drama for ratings.

    May 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tyler

      I have a 5 karat diamond here that you can have for only $400...oh btw, you can't see a picture of it before you buy it. If you believe that when they say "osama is dead" without proof, you're the biggest sucker in the world. Buy my diamond, trust me it's real...

      May 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cesar

      And I'm quite sick and tired of the right-wing news media belly-hooing the thugs who murdered the purported Usama bin Laden and the stupid huzzah the American people are in over it!!!

      May 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sean

    Chris I watch American TV as I find it far more entertaining, where i'm from it's rather boring. Gratefully I can still distinguish between what makes sense and what doesn't. I believe in the Ideals of the America of Old. Stay togather as a nation and don't allow the Bin Ladens of the world to divide you. They certainly cannot accomplish it with their military, so they use this version of guirella war fare. Is it working. What do you think after reading most of these posts?

    May 4, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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