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. Mike

    I could really care less about seeing a photo of this man with a hole in his head. At sometime these photo's will be leaked and then those who want to see them can. More importantly I want to see the information that was on his computers and the multiple supply of hard drives and dvd and cd's. This is definitly the imformation I hope the government decides to suppress from the public. That imo would be a huge mistake by the white house, this info we have a right to see.

    May 4, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bob Williams

    When we get a new president in 2012 maybe he will release the photos. We can certainly hope!

    May 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      That's 2016, and by then the morbid curiosity of most will have faded away.

      May 4, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nur amabo nur

    Yup I'm hoping for a change too!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Faye Daniels

    You are damned if you do and damned if you don't.....there will always be conspiracy theories....some people still believe that there was NOT a moon landing....

    May 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Amaury

    Amaury
    Nice conversation!
    To go back on The subject Of Bin ladddden, it will be interesting to share opinion on the following question:
    Décision Of The US administration to not publishing pictures Of Osama body is for some hidden and/or basic politicals interests or a proof Of a thrue change in The US politics of terror?

    May 4, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike

    Sorry I made a mistake when I said I hope the government decides to suppress from the public. I meant to say I hope they don't decide to suppress this info.

    May 4, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. nur amabo nur

    You mean you want to see the info on the 5 computers, 10 hard drives and various data storage devises that left the compound with 25 troops and a body on a SINGLE back hawk helicopter ???? Yea, I'd like to see that too!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • gingersa

      They left on 3 helicopters. Do you think the whole thing was faked? FYI, we really did land on the moon...and the earth is round!

      May 4, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Yes I want to see the info from those computers and hard drives. Not sure how the whitehouse could keep this from us.

      May 4, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Andrew

    Can 2 dozen men + a body all fit in 1 helicopter leaving???

    May 4, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Brian

    Currently listening to CNN live, a discussion about releasing death photos, Alan Dershowitz argues that the public has a right to see photos of Osama bin Laden dead and that it is not certain that doing so will endanger American lives.

    I do not see this as a valid argument. The only way to prove the endangerment is to publish them. Publishing guarantees a consequence if that is the future that occurs. With this argument, there is never any way to avoid a bad consequence.

    publish | dont publish
    ---------
    good outcome | | |
    ---------
    bad outcome | X | |
    ---------

    X = bad outcome actually happens.

    I see this argument used frequently, particularly by the media. Interestingly, some of the same people who use this logic argue that Wiki-leaks endangers lives. The implication is clear, selective use of an argument is based on the subjective viewpoint of that person, which is inherently self-serving.

    -Brian

    May 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Blackginger

    The news media is really inciting the public with continous coverage of bin laden,s death. We live in a dangerous and mean world . What,s behind all of this?. I remember when top secret was top secret. Our president is a smart man. However, because he is black, and no one has the guts to admit it, everything he does is questioned! What kind of God does americans serve?

    May 4, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Renee'

      I agree! Had these photos/video were released, they would be in the public domain "forever"! Anyone could copy & use these images for all kinds of things (there are a lot of crazy people out there)! If something bad results in the future (& we can't predict the future) related to this event, this released info could be used against our president, his administration & our country! I'm sorry, but the more the president releases, the more the media will tear it apart! It's obvious that "some" are looking for any possible slip-ups, misquotes, conflicting info, etc. We only have to look to the birthers response towards the release of our presidents birth certificate = they are still birthers & still don't believe?! These people don't want the truth = they only want to see a failure from this president! So let the doubters do what they always do best = doubt... but PLEASE DON'T RELEASE this info, for their account!

      May 4, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. William Page

    I suppose that the government can keep their photos, but I want my money back. I watched american citizens jump to their deaths to avoid burning to death on live TV. I've been paying taxes to hunt this SOB for 10 years. I have an $8/hour job, my wife is on a SS disability income, and I can't qualify for assistance, but we can send billions of dollars overseas to harbor a mass murderer. I want to find and attorney to file a class action lawsuit on behalf of the american tax payers for about a million zillion billion dollars, and get our money back. I've grown tired of the government deciding what's in my best interest. I want my money back.

    May 4, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Renee'

    "THANK YOU" PRESIDENT OBAMA!!!!!!! Thank you for not releasing the images!

    May 4, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    Here is what I think. Let the name of bin laden be stricken from every book, magazine, computer and tv. Let the name bin laden never be spoken or heard from any man woman or child for all time. So let it be written so let it be done.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Carmella

    It amazes me that we are still having a conversation about the pictures not being revealed. The only people who want to see the pictures are those who are nosey. It serves no purpose other than an opportunity for media explotation. Move on, at least CNN is covering details of the capture.People care more about a photo than the safety of our troops, People are nosey as i don't know what.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. supersenior

    UBL picture posted on front page of Thailand newpaper 2 days ago..bloody and beat up but it is him
    for sure.....don't know what the fuss is abouit in america..too politicaly correct by a long shot.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
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