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. zaid shaikh

    i am a canadian muslim i thank obama cnn and all of the people in america. very happy to hear the news and i know the true muslims are happy aswell. i personally would really like to see the picture of osama ben dead laden. becaue of him all muslims had to go through enormous stress all over the world. so the news is saying theres a gruesome picture of him when he was shot, but the most gruesome thing that the world saw was the twin towers being attacked. if they showed that why can't they show his picture? is somebody hiding something?
    the conspiracy will say yes, but what about the people that don't belive in conspiracy but the truth? the world would love to see the picture of dead laden. i hope and i wish that i lived in such a great powerful helpful country as america and to have such a great president, obama,

    May 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. SamNy

    I believe they have got Osama live and didnt kill him ! He is more important live then dead for intelligence

    May 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • jim

      i beleive the familys who lost people in these wars and on 9/11 should have the opportunity to veiw these photos the rest of us don't really need to

      May 4, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Valerie

    With all due respect to the president, I understand the position of the White House about not releasing a photo. But by now they must know that there is a photo circulating on Facebook and Google of bin Laden in death. They should own up to it if it's the real thing. Many people don't believe what happened unless there is visible evidence and that includes families who are still looking for closure. There are many who don't trust the CIA and think they are pulling a fast one on us. The media is easily manipulated and misused in today's world.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shirley

      It isn't the real thing. It's been doctored. Part of his head is off on the real whatever they say. Who in their right mind wants to see a dead person like that, regardless of who it is. Have we turned into animals. I thought we had come father than that, but it looks like a lot of us haven't. He's dead and let's leave it. We are just making his group all excited about what happened and they will martyr him. We need to be glad and get on with it. What are we? A bunch of heathens!

      May 4, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. vickie

    I read a perfect response to the conspiracy claims that he is not dead; if he was alive, he would be bragging about it.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Peter Benanti

    releasing photos of him will not convince die hard Bin Laden fans and followers he is dead. ... Think about Elvis

    May 4, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Doug, NJ

    Amercians are UNBELIEVEABLE!! The President's primary responsibility is to PROTECT AMERICANS EVERYWHERE! The decision not to release the photos and video is not only about preventing fanatics abroad from rallying around OBL, but it also protects our dignity and innocence. Throughout our history, whenever a person is executed, a bag has been placed over the person's head as a sign of respect for human beings, both dead and the living. That's us. I don't want our children to wake up and see the mangled face of a deadman plastered all of the TV, newspapers, t-shirts, commemorative plates and $9.95 magazines at the supermarket checkout line, Bin Laden or not!! It's sick! Yes the man was a monster, but this particular monster incites others to be monsters too. Leave his legacy in the bottom of the Arabian Sea, never to be see again! And for those of you so concerned about conspiracy theorists, I say RELAX. The World is not run by conspiracy theorists. There's one for every incident in history. There are theories about everything from how Elvis died, IF Elvis died, Roswell, the Moon landing, Biggie and Tupac's murders, 9/11 and much, much more. Who cares? Let them have their theories. It's so much more important that we keep our values and protect our children from the horrors of madmen and war. Bin Laden was an evil monster who got his justice served with a bullet to the head. He's history...not our future! MOVE ON AMERICA!

    May 4, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • lee

      americans just want closure that he is really dead. with the government not releasing photos or video tells me that they are hiding something. so they did a dna test so what that doesnt prove anything anyone can post some numbers of a dna test and say this confirms that this was bin laden. until they display some proof that they did kill him i think that this is a big government coverup to boost obamas approval ratings. when the government tells you one thing it is always the opposite of what they are really saying.

      May 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shirley

      I say DITTO, Doug!!! Three cheers for you!

      May 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve Hoskins

    If I don't see the pics of Osama dead, then Obama doesn't get my vote!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shirley

      I would say than that's your right! Thank goodness one vote won't do it . LOLOLOL Who in his right mind wants to look at a man shot in the head. How exciting???

      May 4, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nikki Rangar

    Maybe Donald Trump can force President Obama to release the photos!

    May 4, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jeremy

    RELEASE THE PHOTOS – I want to see them and I think that most people in the world want to see them…
    Why deny us our desires?

    May 4, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shirley

      Do you drink blood too! And who is this most the people in the world!! We haven't even taken a vote on most the people in the world.

      May 4, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jeremy

    I don't think that we should let our fears command our decisions…
    Always afraid of "inflaming" the terrorists or "backlash"…

    If we let fear command us, we are not free… I want to see them… How about you?

    May 4, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Kim

    The United States government is a dictaorship!

    May 4, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shirley

      Don't just make a statement like that. Give us some facts so we can agree with you okay?

      May 4, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bett55

    No I don't wanna show my birth certificate, cause I don't have too. No I don't wanna show pictures of uncle bin cause I don't have too. I will be so glad when this pantie wasted fake is kicked out.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shirley

      So do you vote? Do you work on campaigns. Instead of just making comments, give us some facts. Okay, and by the way your remarks are a little racist. Do I detect a little racism?

      May 4, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Judy

    Ya know........When Suddan hussien was caught (when we were SUPPOST to be hunting for BIN LADEN), i thought THEN and still do...that it was a personal thing for Bush because he threatened his father before him...... AND NOW????? I have my doubts about Bin Laden being dead!? Why did our Gov dispose of the body so quickly? Why wont the Gov release pictures(proof) of Bin Laden? after all that this beast did?! America WANTS proof! Why should we believe Obama? He just wanted a feather in his hat for the next election......maybe? All the horrific pics from 911 that have been aired or other wars etc....... this would be worth seeing.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shirley

      And so are you going to eat dinner while you watch pictures of dead bin Laden? He's dead and can't give orders to kill anyone else. If we used the energy on this thread to feed the hungry and help the people in the LA right now, think of the difference we could make.

      May 4, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mmiller

    Is it possible to have a sketch artist rendering of the death photo?

    May 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. The TRUTH

    This is just another HOAX!!! set up by the gov. from the guy who tweeted that he was the neighbor of OBL. from the pictures of OBL DEAD THAT THEY DON'T HAVE, from the finale rites of throwing his body in the water to all the fake reports of
    other terrorists and there claims. ALL LIES... LIKE ALLWAYS.

    May 4, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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