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. Teresa

    I guess Obama's campaign speech about a more open government was a bunch of BS.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Chris

    No matter what the president does with the photos, he will be scrutinized. Here's an idea...give the photos to Pakistan and let them decide–that way they can feel they were involved. It's time to move on and trust our government that Bin Laden was killed.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. danny

    i have seen far worse in my life time and most americans have on 9/11 i watched on tv people jumping to there death out of the twin towers in new york and to me thats far worse then seeing bin laden laying in a pool of blood with an extra hole in his head i belive we got him i just want to see we also need to post a befor and after pic of him with the caption this is your brain under old pic and the death pic and this is your brain on terroism let the pic out

    May 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • conoclast

      You're a ghoul.

      May 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MK

    I don't think he's dead. I really don't. I cannot believe the US would put a bullet in the head and kill a man who has the enormous wealth of information that this guy does. He knows names, places, whereabouts, plans past and future...they would not want to throw that into an ocean and wipe their hands. i think they wounded him and took him off to a secret area. I think he's being unbelievable tortured and when they get the info out of him, THEN it's a shot in the head and dump him.
    Also..how do you do a DNA test in less than 2 hours?
    Show me proof and then I'll believe it.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • conoclast

      You're absolutely convinced nobody in government is capable of acting honorably, aren't you. Sad.

      May 4, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      At last..someone is thinking the same thing I've been thinking all along.

      May 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Why should anybody care what you think.

      May 4, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tyler

      super human DNA analysis. Yeah the DNA test could be done that fast if it was the only one being done at the moment...n/m the fact that they would have needed to have the comparison DNA available...hmmm...maybe it's a hoax? omg...

      As far as us putting a bullet in his head and destroying all that information he had... really...? You think if we had taken him in to custody he would have told us? He knew his fate would have been the same. We'd give him a trial and execute him for crimes against humanity. He wouldn't have told us squat.

      May 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Scottie

    There comes time when people need to recognize that Presidents don't have the luxury of taking the 'low road". To not show the photos, even as much as I would love to see them, just portrays to the world that America has got some class. Extremist want to parade the dead in the streets and hit them with a shoe, fine then , do your thing. Here in the United States I would like to believe that we are better than that. Those who followed, listened to, or worshiped OBL know he's dead. It's time that we accept that too. To ask that your coutry portray itself as anything other than above those who are thier enemy is practically unpatriotic.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Big Game James

    They don't teach spelling at conspiracy school do they?

    May 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Frank

    I bet that those guys who murdered this supposed Usama bin Laden will become even more popular than Jesus Christ now the the American public is caught up in this idiotic huzzah. We've been listening to all this sickening bravado now fow for three days on end and I'm frankly sick and tired of it!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. wally

    Osama is dead, 911 is over. What America did was right. Now lets move on. This is so boring what you are doing. Who cares, he's dead and thats all that matters. We do not need to see pic's or anything else. Be patriotic and accept the militaries word for it. And how he died does not matter. He deserved what he got. Now kick the rest of Alquida's butt, go get Momar and stop the sencless killing, and come home. Let them fight it out amoungst them selves. Quit sending them money, Qit sending help, tell them food for oil or eat your oil. Get a differant president, one that can man-up. And lets get back to the origonal basics for which we were founded on. Just shut up about Bin Laden, and quit marterizing him for them!!!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Clint Eastwood

      Where do you come off saying that what America did was right? Of course it wasn't and anybody with any moral principles at all would know that! Do you also believe that the St.Valentne Day massacre in Chicago back in 1929 was also right? Well,do you,punk?

      May 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • wally

      In reply to being called a punk, it to bad that you can not express your views with out being childish. It's interesting the comparison that you used. The fact that you used such a comparison implies you have strong feelings about death. However it is too bad that other people’s feelings and beliefs’ are so radically different from yours and that my expression of mine was so upsetting to you, but again, that’s what makes this nation great.
      Many, many, many people have given the ultimate sacrifice so you and I can express our opinions. I respect the fact that you have a problem with the way I feel, but in your statement I see you do not respect others. By calling me names to start with shows your ability to accept others opinions and you apparently feel that yours is the only right one. Unfortunately you are wrong. And further more, my morality is not the issue here. If you would actually read what I posted you would understand that my statement reflects that what is done is done. There are those who wanted revenge, they got it. The news is out, it is done, and no one can change that. Let’s move on now. Beating a dead dog is not going to change what happened. There are no hero’s, there are no winners. There are different belief systems and there are those who one believes death is the only way to settle their disputes and two that death is the only way to get closure. That’s what started this entire situation to start with. I can not help how others feel; I can only deal with my own feelings. And they are “its over“, move on and let’s put it to rest and let’s move on. If it was a perfect world this and other things would not happen, but unfortunately everyone has an agenda they follow whether it is political, spiritual or as you seem to feel…moral. Bin Laden’s followers now want revenge; they are planning attacks as we speak. Is it right…No but this thing will continue anyway.
      As far as my personal feelings go, they are mine and if you disagree you have the same right to express your feelings just as I do. You can not change mine and I can not change yours. But in respect to others, instead of treading on others freedoms of speech, why don't you make your own post and leave other peoples alone. And further more name calling or acting out is not going to get you anywhere. Quit frankly I do not care how you feel about this subject but at least I am man enough to let you have your feelings. As for calling me a punk, how do you think 911 or the St. Valentine day massacre got started anyway? Grow up, respect others, and make your own posts. Leave everyone else’s alone.
      Thank you!

      May 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MC

    So, the US watching the reporter being beheaded and the never ending video of people jumping out of the WTC was ok to air but, proving that the man who caused all this truly dead is "too gruesome" ? Obama..your popularity was up for 3 days and just took a nosedive as of today.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mary

      MC, THE BEHEADING OF THE REPORTER AND THE VIDEO OF PEOPLE JUMPING OUT OF THE WTC WAS NOT UP TO THE PRESIDENT AND HIS ADVISORS...IT WAS NOT A CLASSIFIED MISSION AS WAS OSAMA, IT SAD WE HAD TO SEE WHAT YOU HAVE MENTIONED BUT THE MEDIA PUT THAT ON NOT THE PRESIDENT AT THE TIME OR OUR CURRENT TIME. SO PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO TIE IT OVER TO THE PICTURES OF THE DEAD TERRORIST BECAUSE I REALLY DO NOT WANT TO SEE HIS UGLY DEAD FACE ON MY SCREEN.. I SEE ENOUGH ALREADY OF HIS FACE SPLATTERED ALL OVER THE NETWORKS..BOTTOM LINE IS HE IS DEAD AND ALREADY EATEN BY THE FISHES....

      May 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scottie

      How many of those poor people who had to jump from those building did the actually show hit the ground? If you didn't see them hit the ground can't you still conclude that they didn't survive. Tastefully the networks didn't show the results of those fateful leaps.

      May 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nonbeliever

    I have my doubts about his death because of all the scandal in our government! Their word has no merit anymore. I personally want proof!

    May 4, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • katherinesue

      Oh I agree. With all the scandal in the Catholic Roman church I, too, want actual PICTURES of Christ's resurrection. Anyone can do a painting, but with all the scandal throughout Christianity I'd prefer an video and I want it in my hands so I can go through the entire forensics process to confirm it's authenticity.

      May 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. david p.

    obama has no right to withhold the pictures of osama"s dead body. we the tax payers of this great country paid for the mission, there for we should be able to see the evidence. if the pictures are not released i will not vote for him in the next election ! !

    May 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. HReavill

    Putting a damper in the " Pin the bullet on the Dead Osama " idea, eh there Mr. President?

    May 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. binc

    For those that need proof, give it to them. As for the sensibilities of a people that broadcast beheadings and stonings well I couldn't care less.l

    May 4, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Matt

    The thing about being the most powerful country in the world is that you DON'T have to prove what you say with photo evidence. Why do the Republican want to portray us as weak? That and does Sarah Palin live in a double wide igloo or what? If there is a low road, you can count on her to take it.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Ron

    Since when did the US get so righteous in not releasing photos. When the Cia death squads murdered Che Guevera they could not wait to show his bullet riddled body. Don't get me wrong the world is better without Usama around.
    The damage has been done showing the pictures will not cause anymore violence than what is to come if anything and let us pray it is nothing

    May 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mary

      SINCE OBAMA TOOK OFFICE AND WAY BEFORE...THINK OF THE TIME YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT??? OBAMA WAS NOT THE PRESIDENT ....GET IT!! IT'S CALLED CLASS.. KUDOS TO BIG GAME JAMES AND CONOCLAST!!

      May 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
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