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. Gregg

    all I can say and take the PresIdent word that Bin Ladan is dead and has been neturized I can respect the PresIdent decision not the release the photo, You all americans have to understand one thing is that we all voted for him to make excective decision and represent all of us as americans regardless we agree or disagree as he doing his job and see what best for americans, I hope it true that Bin Laden is dead for our americans people sake and 9 11 victims family sake, so therefore am putting my faith in this hoping it s a fact regardless not see any proof of BIn Laden is dead. So let us all move on and focus the crisises in america and put that issue to rest am sure one day it will be released when time comes due to information freedom act like they finally release JFK issue etc it the same goes for this issue may not be now but in 20 years or so . Bottom line they say he is offically dead then he is ! so let move forward and focus other important task on hand instead waste time debating over it which will be endless and waste of time. I want to Salute the Navy Seal for their job well done and glad they all came home in one peice.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Victoria

    I think these post are a great examples of why we need to put more money into the Education system in America. We can blame Bush for that No Child Left Behind Act....Clearly it's not working.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • feererthis

      I agree....

      May 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaveNYUSA

      Who was president when you (obviously) got left behind?

      May 4, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sickpnai

    Barack Obama's decision to release photos of a dead Osama bin Laden will come about two months before the election so his popularity will go up. He is not stupid. Just like his birth papers. Look you need to make me President of the world.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. feererthis

    Just show the pictures and get it over with. Stop all the BS. It was a bad move today to decide not to. They showed the pictures when we poped Sadams sons....whats the difference?

    May 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allison

      Exactly! Why were we forced to watch our friends and family jump out of the twin towers after 9/11. That was the most disturbing images I have ever seen in my life. It's a political move, and him using this picture as a pawn is proof as to why there is such a detachment in unity in North America.

      May 4, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gini

      Why do people want to see a dead person? That is so morbid. And we were not forced to see people jumping out of the twin towers on 911. You watched because you wanted to. And by the way, Obama was not president at the time when you were "forced" to watch.

      May 4, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jjm

    This whole debate on releasing the death photo of Bin Laden is ridiculous. Just got home from Europe - turned on tv on Monday and his death shot showing his face and the shot wounds was on TV. Talked to passenger on plane home who had been in n. Africa and the photo is all over Al Jazera. The choice not to release death photo is not about the foreign or Muslim audience it is only about US audience. I've seen it and it is only U S people who haven't. BTW, they did release the photo to everyone else just not us.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • indyjonas

      I agree.The only ones that cant see the photos are the people who have paid the largest price? Both physical and monetarily. Being a white christian american I am sick and tired of hearing that something I do or say may offend someone else. I'm sorry Mr. Obahma if you are ashamed of killing your musslim brother, but i and a million other americans have no shame in it.
      Also I think the reward money that was set aside for the capture or death of BL ( i won't even speak his name) should be split between the assult team members.
      Thank you, MEN

      May 4, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JK

    Obama is not our mother shielding us from an R rated movie. This is a historical event and the American people spent trillions hunting this man down. The people deserve to get a full and true account of what happened. Saying it may incite terrorists is absurd – they are terrorists. They will find motivation and continue to terrorize whether the photos are released or not.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ray C.

    It all boils down to Blood Suckers and Ratings. Showing the photos would make the Media's Ratings go through the roof. The CONSEQUENCES behind showing the photos would also make the ratings go through the roof. And there would be conqsequences. So it's not hard to figure out why all the media has been trying to instigate these theories which started ten minutes after the announcement. By the way-how many people are on America's Most Wanted List? Where do you think they are living? Probably next to someone. Celebrities and a lot of other people live in "compounds" behind high walls, cameras and security. Nobody pays any attention to what goes on there. Bottom line-we have got to trust our government sometimes. It's done. It's time to move on. Most of us have stopped listening.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chet

    President Obama's "over-sensitivity" to the Islam community, rather than that of his own country is totally inappropriate. Frances Townsend on the Situation Room is absolutely correct. The Taliban had no disregard for the Americans or how they were treated on 9-11. This just didn't impact those families (no offense intended) who lost loved ones, it impacted everyone in the U.S. It is an insult not to show proof to the Americans that this terrorist was finally killed. Obama is President of the U.S. not the world and he needs to remember that. I seem to remember video of Daniel Pearl being beheaded put out by the Taliban. There is no further inflammation that would result from the pictures of Bin Laden being shown, than would already exist. Besides, in not doing so, this could perpertuate a rumor that Bin Laden was actually taken alive and is being interrogated. For all the positive that Obama gained from the killing of Bin Laden, he loses it all, in my opiinion, by giving some stupid, moralistic viewpoint, which is groundless, as justification for not showing the American people that this madmen is finally killed. But hey, we're (Obama) too worried about giving Bin Laden a proper burial and last rites, etc. We should have quartered his body and sent it to the four corners of Afghanistan/Pakistan. Obama needs to get some backbone.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tyler

    Pics or no pics war is 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 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chet

    P.S. I WANT to see Osama Bin Laden's long birth certificate.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jackie

    Reuters has posted photos of 3 men killed inside the compound, They are very graphic! After seeing these, I have no desire to see anymore. I understand both sides of the argument, but either way, the government is damned if they do and damned if they don't. Let the photos leak, as I'm sure they will. But at least Obama won't be the one to release them and then take the heat for it.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nepali Guy

    Donald Trump demands to see the death certificate of Osama Bin Laden. lol !! just kidding

    May 4, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. GA Single Mom

    I agree – the daughter's testimony is a start for those that need proof. She didn't tell American interrogators her story. She was also not the only one left alive. The others may or may not tell interrogators their stories, but statistics show they will eventually tell someone. I hope their paper interviews every one of them. The President (and no, I am not an Obama fan) made the right call. Why make the crazies crazier when giving the order to take bin Laden's compound won't get you re-elected anyway? bin Laden has received WAY too much attention. Use the seized technology to make parking lots where possible and let's move on with our lives. God bless the USA!

    May 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Proud Citizen

    I have know doubt that Osama Bin Laden is dead; but, I feel that the citizens of this country who where terrorized on 9/11 should have the RIGHT to see Bin Laden dead. It is no worse the what we saw 10 years ago. In America commits murder and is placed on death row, the victims family have the right to watch him die. What the difference?

    May 4, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. LUIS ANGEL HERNANDEZ

    THEY SHOULD SHOW THE PICTURES WHAT'S THE DIFFERENT WHEN THEY SHOWED DANIEL PEARL GETTING HE'S HEAD CUT OFF WHERE THE JUSTICE FOR DANIEL PEARL

    May 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
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