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. wthdik?

    photos or not – no matter what – some people are never satisfied!

    May 4, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Christine

    Ya know what I am irritated about? Ya hes dead and thats great fantastic news and Im happy to hear it but um...They wont show the pictures of his ass dead but they continue to show pictures of that smug face of his always smileing and happy that hes in the news and getting his press. WHY dont they stop showing his mug. IM tired of it. If I ever see his face again id like to see it with a gun shot wound in it. Not all happy. My god are there alot of pictures of him happy too. Hundreds of them. Make it stop for god sakes. ..

    May 4, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Niagara Falls

      some photos on torontosun.com

      May 4, 2011 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kevin

    I agree with the position not to release any photos. There were non-US people who witnessed the event (family members). If they choose to make a statement then I support that. If a person who was a witness chooses to make a statement that the US knows to be dishonest then the Government should respond to that person.

    In the end many people have strong opinions that will not change even if Obama came to their house to argue the merits of the news.

    May 4, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dem_o

      Doubters, wait a week! If Osama is alive, he will show his face. There is no better way for him to show his immortality and embarras the US than showing his face. Invite one of those CNN stars like Andersson to interview him, and that will show he is alive. Just one week, tops 10 days and there will be no doubt. If he was not killed in that raid, he would be healthy and can do an interview.

      May 4, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gary

    Keeping the photos private greatly our safety by adding confusion to Bin Laden supporters. They are fighting amongst themselves as to whether he was killed, they lack direction on whether to act now or see if he is still alive to provide them instructions. Bin Laden's supporters are probably divided on whether a new leader should be named immediately and if a new leader is named, does he come from those who believe Bin Laden is still alive or from the group who acknowledges he is dead. Why give them a photo to worship, only to satisfy our self political interest. If the decision were mine, I would use this opportunity to create as much confusion and in fighting within Bin Laden's supporters as possible.

    May 4, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Ed Korchinski

    Stop this insanity of discussing whether Osama Bin Laden is dead or alive. No one needs a gruesome picture of his emanciated body with half of his head blown off to realize. No one would stage a false raid of his demise and have the President of the USA making an announcement that Osama has been killed. Any sane person would expect that if OBL was still alive, his followers and Al-Qaeda would be showing proof that he still is alive by producing videos of him making a statement of some recent event to discredit claims of his death. That has not happened and is not going to happen. Dead men don't talk. All praise to Presidents Bush and Obama for pursuing OBL and the Navy Seals who executed such a well designed and daring plan to bring this vermin to his end.

    May 4, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Cindy

    Many Americans have died in the Middle East. Many families have lost their loved ones. This has gone on too long...now that there is possibly something that may mean that the Americans did NOT die in vain. The Oval Office might be sure he's dead...they've seen the photos and DNA tests...release them to the public!!

    May 4, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Judy M

    All I can say is I love this country, and I trust and belive in who I voted for.

    May 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Bob

    I'm so sick of the news coverage and discussion about showing photos of bin Laden. it seems to me that aside from some Paskastani demonstrators, the media that is the most vocal in wanting the photos – why? Do you get more points/better ratings if you are the first to show them? Let's drop it. He's dead and if the demonstrators want to demand proof, I say ignore their rants – who cares anyway!! We got him and it's good enough for me. Now lets focus on taking apart of the rest of the Al Queda organization, or what's left of it.

    May 4, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Niagara Falls

    See photos on torontosun.com

    May 4, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Cindy

    Many Americans have died in the Middle East because they've been trying to find the cowardly psychopath responsible for 9-11. Finally they may have found him and shot him...release the photos and the DNA results so that the many families that have lost their loved ones will know that they didn't die in vain!! WE DESERVE THOSE PHOTOS!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Alex

    There is a great fang shui consultation of bin Laden's house over at http://PersonalShoplifter.com – that guy really should have hung some wind chimes

    May 4, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. ED H

    Ok, can we be REALISTIC for a moment? I would appreciate seeing the Osama photos, but saying that the people around the world need to see concrete proof? Do you actually believe that any of the doubters would actually BELIEVE that the photos are real? The only thing they would believe is if they could actually see the body in person. I can ALREADY hear them saying the photos were faked. Yes, I'd like to see them, and think we can view them – OR NOT- if we so choose, but I respest the decision made and can live with it

    May 4, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. xander

    IMHO, I think media/people should stop flaming this Pakistan conspiracy thing that it has supported OBL, firstly it aint gonna help, who knows if the rest of the Alqaeda is just 1 block away from that compound then US would have still needed the Pakistanis help to root out the remaining guys, secondly and think about it wouldn't any pakistani say you may point fingers at us but look whos talking US for themselves had the flyers of 9/11 lived in their own country under their own nose, so what difference does it make. And besides like the other news said you wouldnt want another unstable counter in the mideast.

    May 4, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jeff Frank - (R-Ohio)

    Maybe now we don't need Ted Turner and CNN anymore, now that someone whacked CNNs' favorite pet turd. Now their going to mull over this loony bin for the next 500 articles, untill they lose more profits.

    May 4, 2011 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Donna

    Doesn't matter if he was armed or unarmed, very dangerous man. He help kill 3000+ Americans. Who cares if he is armed or unarmed. He helped kill American people that were unarmed, duh. Do you leftest not get it? President Obama if you have any backbone, don't release the photos, we the public do not need to see them. It will only in flame the other terrorist. If you do not think that they will not retailate you are out of your mind. They will, but when the plan was set in motion for it to happen. I'm sure Usbama had a plan for that too. Wake up America and smell the coffee. We DO NOT need to know everything.

    May 4, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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