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. conoclast

    With all these demands by the conspiracy buffs to view bin Laden's death photo I'm beginning to wonder just how much of a "ghoul factor" is a work here?

    May 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Big Game James

    Why do you keep saying show the pictures? The rubber room crowd won't believe it!! If Al-Qaeda believes he's dead, that's good enough for me. And they do believe he's dead!!

    May 4, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. binc

    Matt, why do you assume that it's only Republicans that want the pics published? I'm a staunch conservative that believes the man is dead and that doesn't particularly want to see grisly photos but the fact is that there are many that want proof because the distrust of O runs deep and will run deeper if no photos are shown.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Believer

    So many won't believe until they put their finger in the bullet hole for themselves. This is centuries old thinking of those without faith.

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

    I agree with ks, I think Obama is doing the right thing. If they get a hold of these photos, these gruesome images will be plastered all over the place, they will use them as the ultimate propaganda. The only other solution is to show the images in person, to the world leaders who request them. They have a meeting and they see them, they leave, and the photos stay. Anyway, OBL's own wife identified him, plus they have DNA evidence, and the photos themselves leave no doubt. I think our president has been very thorough, he has respected the religious traditions, he has done everything he could. He looks exhausted, this has to be hard for him and his family. I know it is for all of us. We need to get past this.

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

    7sense what is that supposed to mean?

    May 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JASON HOLLAND

    we as americans have spent far too much on this war on terror, we have lived under this shroud of terrorist for the past 10 years. we deserve to form our own decisions on wether to not to see the photos. for our government to decide what we are able to see is not the american way. we can watch a beheading, car bombings, dead iraqis, but we cant see one dead terrorists. i think this will add to the already sceptical view point of the usa across the world. this has too much weight in the international community and with all the secondary reports and mis leading information that has arrised in the first 3 days, world wide, obamas crediblity will be questioned

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

    Why all the concern over a proper burial and release of pictures? I’m sure there were a couple of Muslims in the towers that didn’t get that respect. What about all the videos and pictures of innocent people hurling themselves out of the towers? didn’t seem to be any sensitivity to those images being publicized over and over. Why the double standard?

    May 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dome Home

    Please just stop talking about Bin Laden Photo. Most people don't care and will still think it's a hoax either way. Start talking about the budget and jobs. The new media is blowing this way out of proportion.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sheldon Allen

    Thank You Mr. President for doing the right thing!!!!!! We believe Osama is Dead. We believe you were born in Hawaii. On to the next issue.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gordon

    I just don't understand this decision. I watched for days Americans dying as they attempted to jump from the towers or as the buildings fell. And I can't see a photo of the man who killed them. That's more than BS.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JASON HOLLAND

    this isnt the first cover up by the cia and the military ( jessica lynch, pat tillman) are you sure you have all the proper information or is the government holding back.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. diane

    I hope the people that want to see bin laden's picture arent the same people who didnt believe Our President wasnt born in the U.S....bin laden's own daughter saw her father dead,,,,what more do you want,,,maybe we should ask the Trumpster.......Why are you people doubting the Navy Seals who took him out, and most of all why are you people doubting Our President who was the one from day 1 who said he will hunt him down, and bingo, he got him....the man should rot in hell for takin the lives of 3000 people on 9/11,,,,,,,,

    May 4, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sarah

    They're not releasing the photographs because maybe they don't have anything? Perhaps this is all an act to make a certain someone look like a hero when really he isn't (Obama). They should do a special program after 9:00 PM with the president addressing the nation and showing the photographs. That way those of us who WANT to see the pictures can for our own peace of mind. And those who chose not to can turn their television off at that time. Then everyone's happy...

    May 4, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Big Game James

    You also pay for the bullets that go in a cop's gun. Do you ask for the coroner's photos when they kill a dangerous criminal? No. You don't.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
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