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. TheBroker

    God forbid we "inflame the passions" of Muslims. How about this... Release the photos and destroy those who's passions are "inflamed".

    May 5, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. TheBroker

    I'm sure moderate muslims are happy he's dead and wouldn't be the slightest bit offended by the photos.

    May 5, 2011 at 12:41 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. TheBroker

    Wow. I just got done reading a few posts... This blog is filled with sheeple.

    May 5, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. L Murphy

    Why can't pics be revealed? At least to the families of loved ones that were lost.
    As for this Coke and Pepsi "bs", what was that about? Let me guess, he couldn't decide. Ya, ok, possibly the right ingredient he needed for another sick endeavour. I love that some people are ready to say it's political propoganda on the president's part. I truly believe that.
    I do not believe he's dead, how can anyone believe that when there is absolutely zero proof.
    The most frightening part of it all is, so many will believe that he's gone and things will get better, but will they????
    Osama – Obama that's all I have to say

    May 5, 2011 at 1:37 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lynda

      I Aguee Photo's Of Osama Bin Laden Will Put The Famliy's Mind At Easy Knowing That Hes Dead I' Think The Reason Why They Won't Release Photo's Is Becouse They Shot Him Up So Bad In The Face That No One Can't Recognize Him And Who Can Plame Them After All He's Done

      May 5, 2011 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
  5. L Murphy

    I guess my main question is, does the war continue or will there finally be some peace? Sorry to everyone that's more in depth, but I feel for the men, women and famililies that are fighting for us and I would like to know if there is ever going to be an end to this nightmare?

    May 5, 2011 at 1:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Cleetus

    I think the death photos should be released. Sure, they are going to be gory. Choose not to view if you are offended. Why do we NOT release the Bin Laden photos, but we can youtube up the Zapruder Film and watch an American President get shot in the head in real time, in slow motion, or in stills from the film? The film is shown on most news programs on November 23, the anniversary of the death of JFK. Any program about President Reagan also shows him being shot. Why accord more respect to a dead terrorist than to 2 American Presidents?

    May 5, 2011 at 2:16 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Danny

    So they only found 5 guns in the compound he was supposedly hiding in. Don't you think that he would have had just a little bit more protection?? I mean the the man has evaded being captured for about 20 years this just seems like it was too easy. They said that they have been looking into this compound for a few years or so. When has he ever stayed in one place for that amount of time?? Obama won't release the photos because he doesn't want them to become a trophy for us. Last I checked the government does whatever they can to get as much recognition as they can. So why stop now?? Especially about something this big. This is pretty good timing for something like this to happen, right after the wedding when the headlines were free and not too long before his term is up. With zero proof and the story about what happened already changing and contradicting itself. I think the government is slacking on it's lies. I don't know why Obama lied about something this big just to stay in office for another term. It scares me wondering what he has planned for us and what he's gonna do with his next term. It pains me to call that man president. It scares me to stay in this country. What they're saying happened makes no sense, especially now that the story about what happened is already changing and it's making less sense each day with the new news about what happened. It would make more sense to say that Obama is Osama in disguise lol. I love this country but I hate the people who run it.

    May 5, 2011 at 2:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. ken

    I found the video of bin Laden's death.

    May 5, 2011 at 3:08 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Heather

    Who Cares if Bin Laden was armed or not when we shot him? The order was "Dead or Alive" and the innocent's he ordered dead weren't armed, so???

    May 5, 2011 at 3:29 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. goldenmo

    I was one that was so furious after 9/11 that I like so many others rejoined the fight after serving active duty time that I not only got back into the reserves but I also joined the new Airport security forces to bring what I could to stop the airline threat. I wanted to help bring my best experience as well as the 55000 others to deter and enforce security that could begin to bring justice that may lead to closure and now that we have it the GOP party wants to soften it. It is something we are all united we stand for and I dont need pictures or politics to know that we need closure to move forward as a people to understand that the legacy Obama is setting demads him a second term

    May 5, 2011 at 4:24 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. frank

    it is so sad to see that by our president not wanted to publish this pictures. but why? he said we are not like that! like what?regarless that osama was a wanted terrorist that we all wanted him dead.by not publishing this pictures and allowing all of this controversy by all major news broadcasters are we not giving him a whole lot more that he ever deserved to be mensioned?or are we really like that?and we went and just like them we murdered a unarmed man and our only cover is we not likje that!!we are seen a lot of so call.consultants.on t.v, national t.v that cant keep a straight face on a good reason on why we shouldnt see this pictures.one of them even said..well obamas doughter was there why are any reasons to doubt her that he got kill..well she also said that he was torture and shot...do we believe that too!! it is time to actually see the true regardless of what that true may be..we as a americans deserve better goverment transparent.and clear.or we are not like that!!!god bless our troops and this country my country but i want truefullness in my goverment I want to believe that we are not like them....as we preach,justice and righttenous in our we the people then we are the people for our country and not we are what the goverment want us to be...

    May 5, 2011 at 4:25 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Cj

    ENOUGH already.... get his face off the news! He is dead now lets forget him quickly... he would have loved all this attention and his followers are probably liking this all the same. I am sick of the news manipulating things to get us sucked in to all this hype about nothing. Just move on and enjoy life.
    The news causes more harm by not knowing when to shut up about things. "overkill on the death of the guy"

    May 5, 2011 at 4:32 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. abade peter

    who is this Osama who some people cannot believe his death was he immortal being? always bin laden. to hell with him

    May 5, 2011 at 4:53 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Heidi

    Good decision President Obama. That would be barbaric to show the gruesome photos and also inappropriate for children worldwide to see who are always online these days. We are a civilized nation. It is enough that he is gone and cannot hurt more people...we don't need to revel in his death photos. We have come along ways since the days of watching public hangings. I applaud President Obama's choice to keep the horrible photos private.

    May 5, 2011 at 5:41 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Tiffany Wilde*

    Because they don't have any photos of Osama Bin Laden. Duh

    May 5, 2011 at 6:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
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