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. TrendBusters

    Here's the pictures they don't want you to see!!

    http://www.zazzle.com/bin_laden_is_dead_tshirt-235930164489366237

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

    Has anyone brought this up yet? The downed helicopter in all these images we see is 100% NOT a UH-60 Blackhawk. Curious on what it really was.

    May 4, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rayzor

      I'm not a helicopter expert but I was thinking the same thing. I was just looking at the camache but it doesn't look like that either.

      May 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron_WA

      You are 100% correct – nor is it the MH-60 special ops version – in fact as a former member of the special ops and air assault communities as well as an active duty intel guy until 2 yrs ago – I don't recognize it as any helo I've seen!?!?!?

      What the heck kind of helo is it? (someone out there knows...)

      May 4, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Gary

    Whatever????!!!! Here is what you do: Get together 6 or so top govenment people, all past presidents, 3 Generals, 6 top "known personalities", 6 top in the relegion arena, 6 of the TOP news people, 2 in the supreme court, and 6 people who had had someone killed in the conflict. Let them see all the video / pictures /dna / etc. Then they all see it and then sign off on belief! Gee EASY!

    May 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Harold Johnston

    You've reported on Osama bin Laden for 72 straight hours, give it a rest. We don't need to hear any more about the bas--.

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

    who cares what people think or say the american goverment has the evidence they need to verify that binladen is dead and that is all that matters

    May 4, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cary

    Maybe the President needs to be reminded about how all the terrorist orgs have posted not only photo's but videos of Americans getting killed. And he's worried about them getting mad!!!!! Total B.S. again from him!!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. J. Drew

    Hay obama did you or didn't you get Bin Laden. I don't think you did.. I think you got someone but not Bin Laden. Put up it shut up...........................

    May 4, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Alphonse D'umbAto

    I thought that President Obama released the photos – or is the CIA Director, who wanted them out, "Going Rogue?"
    & he will soon head DOD? The remake of 7 days in May in the works ???
    Kanye as the President – All of the Baldwin Bros. alternating as Panetta ! Yes !!

    http://tinyurl.com/NYT-Osama

    – Al –
    http://tinyurl.com/aL-iS-YouR-PaL

    May 4, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Markw

    Mr.Obama

    I guess it is ok for the terrorist to show video of our charred soldiers being dragged down the road and hung from a bridge? Eye for an eye I say show the pictures...

    May 4, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Andres

    if there is even a small chance that Al-Qaeda would retaliate would the U.S public and the news really want to put coalition troops at risk!! is it really worth losing soldiers for a picture? People need to stop thinking about what they want to see and start thinking about the lives at risk. As a soldier myself it's now worth it. This time i think we should just take Obama's word for it.

    May 4, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. scharla

    i dont thin kthe photos should be broadcasted in any way if they are there may be more attacks and we dont want any more tragedys

    May 4, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gord

    obama is political leader not moral leader, release the photos or do you need more time to photo shop them?

    May 4, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tony the Prophet

    There are many signs that will precede him, a general and very important sign is that he will come at a time when there is great confutation, intense disputes and violent deaths. When people are afflicted by disturbance and experiencing great fear. Calamities will fall upon the people, so much so that a man shall not find a shelter to shelter him self from oppression. There will be battles and fitnaas before his appearance. Every time a fitnaa has come to end, another will start, spread and intensify. The people will be troubled to such an extent that they will long for death. It is then that Imam Mahdi will be sent.

    Its not about Bin Laden or Moammar Gadhafi, frankly it doesn’t matter how many leaders like these are eliminated many others will emerge, all Nations are longed to collapse eventually. The remark made on CNN by a government official lady, that Bin Laden life had to be taken in order justify the lives of over three thousand people of 2001. Based on this ideology then America should also kill all whom had a connection to Bin Laden and all Islamic religion believers. The roman Empire ruled, killed and conquered, but at the end it also collapsed and died like many other ancient Empires . America real collapse will come from within. Americans are under a serous economic threat, where families are not earning enough money to provided for their basic needs. America has lowered the standards for Americans to gain happiness and prosperity, neglecting this most valuable assets “ We the People” will continue to add to jobless, unhealthiness, both physical and mental.

    May 4, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. knarf

    Look at the photo of the so-called "damaged helicopter" on CNN.com. Where did that come from? Deep Space Nine? Looks like a shuttle craft, certainly not a Blackhawk
    This one wins the prize for doctored photos. If this is supposed to be a helicopter, then someone has figured out how to break the laws of physics. Good job, CNN!

    May 4, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jack

    The thing is this SOB attacked all of America, not just the twin towers. The American public has paid for the hunt and the war on terror not to mention two other wars "associated" with this. We own that picture. The specops community just got to do what 100% of us wanted to do on 911. Why not at least let us share in this after the fact. After all we did pay for it.

    May 4, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
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