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

    Who are they trying to convince? I know it's not people on the right making Bin Laden being armed or not an issue.

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

    There is a solution for the Bin Laden photos being shown to the families and 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 10:53 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 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. SenecaSweety

    Enough Already – Obama is our President – That in itself <- We should repect – He has informed America, the World, of Bin Laden's death – DONE!!!! – SO What is different? – Why do we try to make THIS President, provide proof to all his actions?? – First his Birth Certificate & now this? WE, AS A COUNTRY, (that was previously wounded by Bin Laden's actions), SHOULD BAN TOGETHER AS A NATION & NOT BICKER AMONGST OURSELVES, AS WE DO – Let's show the rest of the World – WE ARE A STRONG NATION & STAND BEHIIND THE DECISIONS OF OUR GREAT LEADERS – LET'S SHOW THE WORLD – THE UNITED (I repeat – UNITED) STATES is above the Having to PROVE OURSELVES. – Why Give Bin Laden anymore press-time – not worth it.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Well said

      May 4, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • jessie

      I do give credit to Obama for this mission. Good job. Furthermore great job to the CIA / SEALS, and all who took part. However, the attack by UBL, was on America. That said, I believe the body should be shown. In the political world we live in, yes I want to see proof. And, the enemy should see proof as well. If not, it will create more speculation, and UBL will still live on in the shadows. The decision to not show the photo is not good for America. However, is good for the enemy. It is not closure. And regardles of what your told..closure is important

      As for the birth cert issue? This could have been released by Obama when people asked for it, and there would have been no problems. It is no ones fault but Obamas. Now, by not releasing UBL photos, it's going to start all over again. Bad move. The Government serves the American people. If the American people ask to see the photo of the man who planned the attack against our country..the photo should be released.

      I also would like to say again, great job for Obama making this decision. While I myself, believe the mission took place. I hope the president, does add closure. (as for me..i am a middle of the road type guy. I like some of Obamas ideas and some I dont. It's all common sence really.. If Sadam pictures were not shown..I would have sounded off on Bushes decision. lol also if words were miss spelled I am sorry..in a bit of a hurry/cheers

      May 5, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. we the people

    The bin laden pics belong to NATO nations too. the u.s. must release them
    Obama cares more for the feelings of the extremist world than he cares for the 911 victims.
    The white house can watch the bin laden execution live but the American can not.
    Patience will run out soon the american people want pics and will be done as we the people say!!

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

      First of all you don't sound like an American. Second– the pictures don't belong to NATO as this was an American mission. " We the people " don't all want to see the pictures we are more concerned about the troops and what the release would mean for them. So speak for yourself.

      May 4, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. just saying........

    If I can not see the dead osama picture, why O why do I keep being shown alive osama pictures????

    May 4, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • 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 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Shirley

    Why isn't it obvious to people that showing the pictures and continuing to make a make deal over not seeing them is going to cause problems for our military who are stationed through out the world?? What isn't understood? There are radicals just waiting and wanting to make a martyr out of this evil person who killed thousands of Americans and others in foreign countries. We need to focus on those who have lost loved ones, what closure this could help bring for them, the BRAVE Navy Seals who courageously did the task of bringing the leader of evil down and hopefully breaking of the terrorists network that can never understand peace, love and freedom.

    May 4, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Mike

    You nay sayers out there, what on Earth would be the motivation of this current administration to out right lie to the American people and the World about taking bin laden out. It would be political suicide to take such action. Obviously they would have to know that we would find out if he wasn't dead. I want those of you who believe that we are being lied to to give me a logical reason what the motivation would be to commit such a huge case of political suicide.

    May 4, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Richard Dawson

    >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

    I think you've been watching too many Harry Potter movies.
    He Who Must Not Be Named....

    May 4, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Thank you but I have never watched a Harry Potter movie in my life, Try the Ten Commandments. I'm sure you know what I'm getting at.

      May 4, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bill burke

    I think they should put the pictures of bin ladan on pay per view and use the money to help with our national debt. If as many people pay to see them as there are raising hell about not seeing them we should see a considerable amount of money go into our treasury.

    May 5, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Good one Bill

      May 5, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  10. Subash

    CNN should be ashamed to be constantly harping on "why aren't the pictures being released". Both AC360 and Piers Morgan seem obsessed with this today. This was a great victory for us. Trust our media to constantly second guess and change even a great victory into a morass of self criticism. Please stop it!

    May 5, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Gabby

    I believe that Obama is just trying to make votes so people can re elect him in 2012. He is aware that as he didnt do much on his years as a president. I saw an interview in which Benazir Bhutto stated that osama was killied. if you look at the full video the one the showed in the U.S was modified and the part where she says that osama was killed was cutted off. The version showed in bbca is whole interview. the president doesnt want to release the pictures beacuse osama is either not dead or is just a cover up bc his bein dead. He just trying to get people to re elect him in 2012

    May 5, 2011 at 12:17 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Tanner Campbell

    The crimes of this government are absolutely shameful.

    May 5, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Truth

    They don't have any photos to release!!!!!!!! If some come out..... It's going to be a hoax anyway people....just another scammmmm just like , where all the Bail Out Money went???? who shot JFK?????? Yaaaaaa we went to the MOON????? We just "LOAN" the Government officials our POWER....... Let's not GIVE it to them????? Please Wake Up Americal.

    May 5, 2011 at 12:22 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Truth

    No photos to release......... Staged.....

    May 5, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. TheBroker

    Release the photos moron.

    May 5, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
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