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. Scottie

    Oh and by the way....the moon landing was fake, and Pearl Harbor was just a movie...get a grip people

    May 4, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. david p.

    i do believe that osama is dead, i want the world to see what happens when you kill americans. i also want the one eyed partner of his see what is going to happen to him.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. bunny

    This OBL death charade is getting stranger by the moment, I've already walked out of the theater on this one. I suspected OBL was dead when GWB said in 06' that he basically no longer mattered. I think our corrupt government is heading "off the cliff" and this is their "rabbit out of the hat" to distract the public from the economic crash we are about to endure. Only the sheeple buy these ridiculous stories about the burial at sea and now they won't release the photos. IMO it's a COVER UP and a very sloppy one at that

    May 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Scottie

    Sometimes i'm more worried about this country because of the people who live here rather than those who want to do us harm and live 1/2 way around the world.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. JASON HOLLAND

    We as americans buy into anything we see on tv or the internet. Diane how do you know what bi laden daughter saw. what have you seen the pics? are you part of obamas circle? must be nice that our leaders in washington have said they get to see the pics buy we cant. not releasing offical photos will lead to many fake photos being sent out and US will never get the proper credit for a job well done.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Angie

    A new war path for Donald Trump.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Joey

    The ghoul factor is about the same as is as when driving by a bad highway accident.

    May 4, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. cool4kg

    if you trust your president and his army
    then you dont need to see the photos of the dead man.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Doubter

      I trust our service men (God Bless them all)....but not the so called president. He has lied so much he believes himself when he says he is an American. We all know that isn't true.

      May 4, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Doubter

    Wait....it took him 2 years to produce a fake birth certificate. Maybe by 2013 he will release a picture of a fake Osama. But then again....maybe he doesn't wan't to admit he killed one of his brothers. What a sad state of affairs our Country has fallen into. Our so called president is a JOKE!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. WildBill

    Osama Bin Laden is not Dead, he is driving a caddy in Vegas partying it the HELL UP !!!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. allmusclestuff

    Obama or not we all want to see Osama's mug shot before his final dip. This could possibly be the real thing: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=4e2_1304436213
    The website publisher can't confirm (or doesn't want to) the authenticity or the source of the photo.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Joey

    I completely support the decision not to release photographs of bin Laden in death.
    I don't even want to see any more images of him alive.
    Let him be erased.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. brian

    bin laden is not in hell
    heaven didnt want him and hell was afraid he would take over
    so he will rot at the bottom of the sea forever!

    May 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. JASON HOLLAND

    the fake photo wasnt bad? how could the real photo be worse? Obama has just put his word into question world wide. americans should outraged, we have heard so many different accounts what are we to believe. not closing the door will leave the arab world left to decide wether to believe the US government. they have already seen fake photos, been told he shielded himself with women, said he had a weapon, he didnt have a weapon, what are they to believe. ohh yeah the US govt. never misleads anyone.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. TiredofSensationalism

    Best decision that the President has made...
    Stop being silly. Elvis is dead...Osama bin Laden is dead. Evaluate the consequence. Showing pictures...Not showing pictures? Obama made the right decision to not ignite more violence. Do you really want the children in our country to view this?

    May 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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