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. c.terrell

    In this day and age of special effects, other than morbid curiosity, I think the issue is can we trust what we are being told?

    May 4, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Lucy

    Thank you.

    May 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. FedUp

    Did anyone really think he would show proof!!He wouldn't show his birth certificate until forced too and will do the same with this.He does not feel he answers to the American people.Is strange to me that in ten years they could not find BinLanden,but when Obama is in dire need of a boost in his popularity boom it happens.He will play this to the hilt come election time and the sad thing is a vast number of people will fall for it.All the credit goes to our Navy Seals who got the job done when finally allowed to!All Obama had to do with it was finally to give the o.k.TTake the blinders off people!Think for yourselves instead of falling for the crap he feeds us!

    May 4, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dan

      I'm with you Fedup

      May 4, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      You're kidding me with this, right?

      May 4, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • betty


      May 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linda Owens

      Send the pictures to Pakistan, let them decide and take the blame if things don't go well.

      May 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rational

      You sound so ignorant and hateful. He didn't show his birth certificate because he didn't have to, but idiots like you wouldn't let it go. The focus should have and always should be on how to make the country better. He wouldn't be President if he was not born in America. I mean really think about that. You believe our gov't is that bad that something like that would slip through. Come on. So you believe that Obama did this to boost his ratings yet you acknowledge that Bin Laden is actually dead. That doesn't even make sense.

      As for the pictures I would have liked to see them but I understand why he is not relaeasing them. Just becaus they mocked us doesn't mean we should do the same. America is better than that! I agree that the Navy Seals should get credit as should the CIA and everyone else that has been looking for OBL. President Obama also deserves credit for the decisions that he made and President Bush too. I know he was gathering info during his terms as well. When something goes wrong the President gets blamed so why shouldn't he get praise when something goes right. Ultimately nothing happens unless the President gives it the okay. None of our leaders Dem or GOP belive that they are doing bad for the country, yet the opposite sides want to find a reason to hate them just because they diagree with them politically. I think it is you who needs to WAKE UP and think for yourself.

      May 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bomb your ass

    Its bomb your ass Mary

    May 4, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • jakys

      i agree with fed up. this is going to be a major upset for the nation. if we killed him.......then prove it. the team that killed them is completly secret. there is no reason to be this secret about everything. if you are going to run a nation u have to let the prople in the nation know what is going on. and you are so right fedup i believ since he wont show the pictures that he used the whole thing for a boost in his re-election. they showed sadams death BECAUSE IT ACTUALLY HAPPEND!

      May 4, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Agent 1

    Go finish 2nd Grade!

    May 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Meg

    We the American people must come together as one and start believing in our government. They will now lie to us about something as important as killing Ben Laden. The president made the right decision by not releasing the images. We should not always have to see in order to believe. If Ben Laden is not dead he will eventually surface with one of his home videos and the fate of the American people in our government will crumble once and for all. Ben laden is dead, I believe it and so should every American. The Terrorist who are demanding to see the images of Ben Laden dead already know he is dead and if they do not they will soon know. The only reason they are demanding to see the images is to fuel more hatred towards Americans and to prove that we are no better than they are, by showing the world and our children brutal images. We have shown the terrorist they will not win, we do not have to prove anything to them. God Bless America, president Obama and the Navy Seals. I am extremely proud of our country and our government.

    May 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jazzzzzzzzzz

    See ... that just gives MORE speculation to his death. When did he really die? I really can't believe a word that comes out ot WASHINGTON.
    Hmm , after thought ... wonder if we can still get them thru the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT?

    May 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Bomb your ass

    Don't be mad at me Mary, I'm sorry, I retract what I said, but as a lady you shouldn't be asking to see bloody pictures

    May 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jazzzzzzzzzz

      It has nothing to do with her being a lady and everything to with getting to the TRUTH.

      May 4, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mary

    I really think this is just one of Obama propaganda for the election.

    May 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Ken Waters

    Why burn all that expensive fuel flying to the sea? Could have burned him right there with all the other garbage without even leaving the property.

    May 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. mark richter

    i am a voting american. If the president doesnt release the death phots of bin laden i will not revote back into the seat of presidentcy. They have no respect for us and killed many of our american people and blastered them photos up all around the world so why are giving them respect? So fair is fair and give us that satifaction of seeing his death photos. We had to look at them photos of our innocent american people that lost their lives for no reason so we should be able to vote on theis situation this is amerca!!!!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Michael

    Another Roswell Area 51 has just been born

    May 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. enough

    Fedup you need to wake up.

    May 4, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Bull S. Hit

    I find it hard to believe the pictures of osama are too gruesome, even more gruesome than the images of thousands of americans dying in the 9/11 tragedy? Anyone that has seen a rated R movie has probably seen worse, the pictures should be shown....where's wikileaks at?

    May 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. enough

    The FBI does not even believe Bin Laden was behind 9/11.

    May 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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