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. JB

    This is total BS, the U.S. people after all we have been through, especially New York City cannot got confirmation from the United States government through pics that this SOB is dead? The President is worried about the Muslim community? Well, what about the U.S. people? When do we come first? Why does this got dam ncountry always put others first and not our own? The hell with the muslim community and how they feel, the American people have a right to see the confirmation that this Nut Job is finally dead. Since the President does not want to confirm it through pics, I do not believe anything he says pertaining to Osama being dead and dying at the hands of the U.S. government.

    May 4, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. The TRUTH

    FRANK, don't be silly they will never vaporize MECCA !!! ITS ALL ABOUT MONEY!!! what part of the gov. are you in the
    Post office?

    May 4, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deep Thinker

      another government conspiracy born. He will not release the picture because they dont have any. if you complaining about how bad sick they are. What about all the people that died becasue of him. They still show pics of the towers falling and the carnage that Osama caused. Until I see pics just another government conspiracy to get Obama elected in 2012

      May 4, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Psyclops

    Really Im no conspiracy theorist, but it's common knowledge that the CIA let Bin Laden go prior to the Afghanistan invasion under orders from Bush/Cheney. I love how you are labled a nutcase because you follow history and require some proof that your government or religion is not lying to you. I was always encouraged to ask questions, but hey being a politician means you can tell the common folk to get lost. A conspiracy theorist would take Obama/ Biden and say it's eerily similar to Osama Bin Laden. Im not saying that at all!

    May 4, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      "t's common knowledge that the CIA let Bin Laden go prior to the Afghanistan invasion under orders from Bush/Cheney." Would you mind giving some proof? I have followed this whole thing for ten years and aside from "Truthers" I have never heard that the CIA let Bin Laden go. Please provide a link to a non-lunatic fringe website so the rest of us can see this.

      May 4, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Andrew Foster

    Forget the pictures of bin laden. I demand the government to inform us of what is stored on bin laden's computers. Knowing what he could of been planning is much more important right now for me.

    May 4, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      Yep. I think Prez made good choice not to release pics. Not something anyone needs to see especially underaged.

      May 4, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. indyjonas

    Is there a connection to this weeks events and the so called escape of a hundred prisoners....hmmm

    May 4, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. TWS

    Doug in NJ...ditto!!! You said it all.

    May 4, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mark Stern

    President Obama is correct not to release the photographs of the corpse of Osama bin Laden. It would traumatize children and sensitive persons. Meanwhile, it would infuriate the followers of his jihad. Show the world video and photographs of his body sinking beneath the waves of the Arabian Sea. And, let his followers who believes he is still alive join him in the Arabian Sea.

    May 4, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • jlisotto

      are you kidding me how many children had to be told that their parents were dead on 9-11 how many sensitive people w3atched as people jumped 99 stories to there death all of those people as well as the rest of america deserve to see both holes in his head laid out to let every other terrorist know that if we can find him we will find you to

      May 4, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Donna

    I sincerely hope that someday, somehow, Sarah Palin will support her Commander In Chief.

    May 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • jlisotto

      if he doesnt release the photos why should anyone believe anything he says

      May 4, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Never Forget 9-11

    Oh come on you know he is dead. If OBL wasn't dead he would release a video to the world showing that he was still alive and that the US were liers and then how would Obama and the country look? Pretty stupid now wouldn't we? YES.

    May 4, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • American365

      So sad.. the logic by some of these people. if there are no pictures perhaps he was killed long ago.. Perhaps prior to 911 and the ISI planned the whole event.. look back in history and you'll see layers of duplicity... there is no double standard there are triple standards though.. Politics and control are key.. follow the money and the "disinformation" read the back pages if you really want to know.

      May 4, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. T

    Thank you Mr. President for not releasing those photos. People are stupid. No matter what, He will never be seen again. Since when has the U.S. said someone was dead and then they show up again? NEVER!! Honestly, If the CIA had him somewhere wishing he were dead (MARS MAYBE).. It would not bother me a bit... Just leave it alone.. He is gone.. Lets just keep it that way.

    May 4, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ralph

    As an American we have the right to view any and all photo's of the deceased Bin Laden... On September 11 2001 the world watched as thousands of Americans died on live television. The images of innocent people jumping from the Twin Towers as a last resort of escaping the inferno of hell they were facing. The world needs to understand that the American people are generally kind and giving people however; we won't be pushed around by anyone! I am very disappointed in the administrations decision to not release the photo's of Bin Laden for the world to see.

    May 4, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TA

    The people desire to see the photos. I enlisted because of this fight. Show me why I am fighting. Why do our elected officials not listen to the people. Release the photos. Why does it seem that half of the senate gets to see what we can not. Obama continues to let us down and not make the decisions for the people.

    May 4, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kareen

    Good choice President Obama.
    We don't have to see these gruesome pictures and whoever doesn't believe Bin Laden is dead can jump of the highest bridge they can find.

    May 4, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Davis

    THEY BETTER NOT BE RELEASED!!! are you people trying to get us attacked again? If his followers see those photos it will just put them into madness and then they will want to attack and fight because we killed their leader. If we show the pictures they will take it as rude and will fight back. He is dead, leave it alone. God bless America.

    May 4, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • American365

      Better to live in fear and lies than truth and justice.

      May 4, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jan Macdonald

    From where did the U.S. get the first set of DNA so that they could compare the new set of DNA and make a bin Laden confirmation?

    May 4, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
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