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. Bob

    Maybe I'm hung up on technicalities, but summarily shot in the head equaling brought to justice, makes me a little uncomfortable. Justice usually takes a little longer!

    May 4, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. BlAckginger

    The news media needs to shut up already.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. supersenior

    already seen a photo of ubl posted in foreign press.

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

    I agree with the President on this one. He's dead and our government shouldn't be playing "Hard Copy".

    May 4, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Renee'

      I agree! The wife & daughter have already stated that her husband/father (OBL) was killed. I wonder what all these folks calling for the release of these images will have to say,... when the "bloody reactions & retaliations" start abroad? When innocent americans are targeted. Will you guys all-of-a-sudden LOSE you voices??? Hmm... we'll see?! CNN, the BBC, etc. are available all over the world (TV, online, etc.) & so are the "comments we post". We "all" need to tread lightly!

      May 4, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tania

      I agree NO photos should be made public, why create a more dangerous situation. Terror will not be wiped off the face of the earth overnight, it will feed on every ounce of Hate.
      It is done, why do YOu and I need to know every grusame detail....will you believe more?

      May 4, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trish

      Agreed. Enough said.

      May 4, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. noemi

    Just reading some of the blogs. YOU people need to use that thing that sets 3ft above ur ass–les.ur f_9'-,/ sick people.let us all hear that POP.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. sheenas

    There is a solution for the Bin Laden photos being shown for the families to get closure.
    If the families of 9/11 were all assembled (making sure that no personal cameras were allowed) and shown the photographs, then 1) there would be closure for them 2) a large number of civilians would have witnessed it 3) it would put an end to the conspiracy theories 4) we would avoid aggravating the Osama sympathisers. That would be the end of drama and speculation. Thank you.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Sheenas, I understand where you are coming from and certainly respect your concerns for the family members of those who lost their lives on 9/11. But the argument is this. The attack on 9/11 was on all Americans not just those who lost their lives, in one way or another we are all victoms of this attack as it has affected all our lives in one way or another. Their will be those who would use that argument saying they also should see the pictures me personally not one of those people, I could care less if I saw a picture or not, once again I do understand where you are coming from and if their could be away to show those families members who want to see a picture I would not be oppossed to that.

      May 4, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. D3xT3r

    Osama isn't dead, this was a publicity stunt.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. R Hurst

    This sheds serious doubts on the Obama administration's truthfulness of the events. This administration shows an arrogance in believing it knows what is best for the American people, and puts our enemies' concerns above the needs of America. The citizens of this country must be able to validate what its elected officials are doing, and have done. It is not unimaginable that our politicians would lie to us for their own political agenda. It has happened before. Additionally, if graphic pictures of Usama bin Laden’s house guests were released, then why not release those of the intended target.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • questioning4

      Which elected official has questioned the validity that Osama is dead? if your arguement is a cover-up and your elected officials are covering it up then you must question the Republicans who are agreeing with Obama. It seems that you are more interested in believing that Osama is still alive than allowing our military at risk by showing the pics. Are you an American or just one of those that will not believe onyone? Why doen't he come before a group of journalists and subject himself to DNA testing to proove that he is alive? Your arguement fails in the face of deciding that he is alive and the administration covering it up.

      May 4, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. D3xT3r

    You can lie all you want Obama, but ur still not gonna get re-elected.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. questioning4

    I am over people stating that it is up to the U.S. to proove Osama is dead. If people don't believe it then why doesn't he appear before a group of journalists and subject himself to DNA testing to proove that he is alive?

    May 4, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Mike

    I want any of you out there who want a photo to prove to you that this man is dead to give a logic explanation of why a photo would convince you. Personally I think that you people just get off on seeing gruesome pictures. Why don't you just google gruesome pictures and you can look at them all night long.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Trish

      Couldn't agree more even if I tried!!!!! Don't need to see it, will choose not to watch if ever shown! There is so much out there in this world that people believe in and take at face value without photographic evidence. Why start now? I really don't believe the world leaders would fabricate something of this magnitude on some random date just to placate or pacify citizens of this world.

      May 4, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Renee'

    You know what? Let's get all these republicans "on-the-record" stating they don't think we killed OBL, etc. Let them continue to second guess... Let them continue to criticize... then let the evidence surface some time in the future (like 2012!). Go ahead, let them "all" paint themselves in a corner, like many of them did with the birth certificate incident... hummm! We saw how fast they back-tracked on that didn't we? They better be careful, because the truth might not set them free?!

    Why are they NOT talking about jobs, like they promised? Where are the jobs, guys? Stop playing around & get to work! I guarantee they will NOT tackle this, because they want americans to blame our president! ... Hypocrites!

    May 4, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. questioning4

    I am over people stating that it is up to the U.S. to proove Osama is dead. Why doesn't he appear before a group of journalists and subject himself to DNA testing to proove that he is alive? You do know that someone could dress-up like him and appear to be alive.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Marywynn

    First time I've ever been dissappointed with CNN coverage and line of questioning of news. This station has interviewed government personnel, Pakistanians, and military who haven't a clue as to what went on Sunday or the area in which it occurred. The questions asked are irrellevent and leading. CNN's questions suggests possible unlawful actions of International Law on the part of our Navy SEALS, our military officials and our presiden. This line of questioning needs to STOP! CNN is all-but making Bin Laden out to be the poor, unprotected family man who was in his home, minding his own business. In the past, pictures of situations such as this have been shown, but haven't we grown as a civilization since then? Hasn't the media's standards come a little further than that? Raise the bar CNN...Don't be an Inside Edition, Fox News! The president has said no pictures, stop pushing it on us...If the photos of the raid on Bin Laden get leaked, it shouldn't come from you or our government ...and for a laundry list of reasons -poor form ole boy.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jeff Frank - (R-Ohio)

    That stupid photo of him above. What is that anyways. Kinda looks like he graduated "midshipman", from the Achmed Naval Academy. Instead of getting a hundred virgins at death, this cat will be chained to a wall and get hit by 100 – 747's every day, for the rest of eternity.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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