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. mary

    I see that someone wrote something about soddom anf gomorrah (sorry for the spelling) but that post was not from Mary, CNN please watch what your doing Thanks! MARY~

    May 4, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Linari

    George Patton: troll. Tarek Hamster: troll.

    As the troll Patton would say, "how disgusting!"

    May 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. noseal

    worried about releasing photos but not turning a kid into a leader by seeing father killed?

    May 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. IKHAN

    Hunting Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts was a law enforcement mission, Full scale Invasion & occupation of Iraq & Afghanistan proved counter productive and costly in terms of precious soldiers we sacrificed in thousands, thousands more maimed & scarred for life and a trillion dollar plus bill. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians killed during the past ten years.
    Iraq which we invaded for greed & profiteering and of course Israel's mighty boot up the behinds of our leaders for a push, helped Al Qaeda consolidate & expand. That country was split wide open to breed violence & terrorism which continues to date and Osama Bin Laden & countries like Iran were the clear beneficiaries.
    In Afghanistan similiarly, a full scale invasion & occupation was unnecessary. Our soldiers and local civiklians are dying every day with a billion dollars a day cost to us.
    Small scale focused and covert operations were what was needed to hunt and capture top leadership of Al Qaeda. The way it succeeded in killing OBL now.

    Someone above wrote that Israel is all that America & the world should think about to help & protect. What a load of non-sense . That country is a liability for us and the root cause of all our troubles. Our failed policies in the Middle East which aided & abetted growing hostility towards America are a direct result of our taking orders from Tel Aviv.
    With the winds of change blowing in that region we shall have to rethink our policies for the sake of America & Americans. No other country matters more to us.

    May 4, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. NJ

    I find it so unbelievable to think that the american people are gullible enough to believe that Bin Laden was killed without any actual proof other than pictures of the president and his people in the situation room. I truly belive that a large part of this is a ploy by the Obama admiistration in boostling morale for Obama and his ability to maintain the presidency. The United States military and inteligence is one of the best in the world if not the best and yet in 10 years they could not find Bin Laden, now they find him and supposedly kill him and then the best of all is that they felt they needed to follow islamic religion and bury his body at sea!!! This reeks of cover-up and they are completely playing upon the heartstrings of the american people and the world for what they went through with the 911 terrorist attack!
    If they feel that terrorists should be buried at sea then why do they keep Al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees imprisoned in Guantonamo Bay, do they bury any of those prisoners following islamic law????
    Absolutely, this is a cover-up, who knows maybe it wasn't even Bin Laden, what they want now is for you to praise the president and his administration and rejoice that the big bad wolf is dead!!!!
    Show us all the details and provide dna proof for the public to rest assured they truly have done right by the american people and the world!!!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Llama

    PICTURES OR IT NEVER HAPPENED!

    May 4, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeb

    Wow, this is complete bs.

    May 4, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tommy

    We pray for Osama

    May 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JJ

    Obama has decided not to release the photos of Bin Laden AND has officially thrown his support to Donald Trump for the 2012 election.

    May 4, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Travis

    I keep wanting evidence to show that what I've been reading on infowars.com isn't true. Why don't they just release it?

    May 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. lawrence okwara

    I take hat off obama for a job well done , those that are enemy of obama should shut up and do other things
    Am not going to stop singing this praise coz je just raise the bar now.
    The next will be gadafi now or never mr president.

    May 4, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Linda

    As a Canadian, I am relied that Bin Landan is no longer on this earth. I glad President Obama has decided that death photos will not be released. Bin Ladan is no longer a threat to the world. Releasing the photos would have been wrong morally. Two wrongs would not erase the terror Bin Landan inflicted on the world.

    May 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tommy

    His soul will guide us, we won't stop killing, we love to kill and decapitate people

    May 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kpants

    The White House could have taken the corpse on a nation-wide tour and allowed visitors to touch it and hold pictures of OBL up to the corpse's face and the conspiracy people would not have been appeased. Rather, they would insist it was faked in some way. Knowing that, perhaps instead we can err on the side of good taste and common sense and not publish any pictures. They would serve no purpose other than to further incite our enemies. Anyone not convinced by the DNA will not be convinced by a photo.

    May 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. alex63

    Well Obama, you just lost my vote!

    May 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
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