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. Dean from Michigan

    We consider ourselves to be a nation dedicated to human rights and the respect and dignity of all people.

    The government has told us that Bin Laden is dead. His wife and daughter have told us he is dead. The fact that he hasn't made an appearance to refute this claim and claim a victory by uncovering a monumental lie should tell us he is dead.

    Our nation, and our children, have had to live with memories of the horror of the September 11th tragedies. Nothing will ever change that but at some point in time we have to move forward. We have to live up to the image that we have fostered around the world of being a great nation that has the ability to persevere and overcome any obstacle in our way, and in doing so, advance humanity and human rights around the world.

    Making pictures of this slain enemy of all that we hold dear public would serve no positive purpose other than to satisfy some morbidly curious sense that many of us may have. To the negative it would give new life to his followers and allow them to rally against us with his slain image fresh in their minds. It would diminish our level of humanity in the eyes of many around the world.

    We are still angry that so many of our citizens have to live with the graphic memories of that infamous September day, but let us not add to that by creating more graphic images to fuel that fire. True peace comes from understanding and an honest attempt at moving forward. Let's be the country that we know we truly are. Let us lead the way. Osama Bin Laden is dead and gone. This source of evil can no longer directly effect anyone. Let him pass without any more fanfare and let's not give him continued influence in martyrdom.

    I am proud to live in what I consider the greatest nation in the world and I believe that if we set the example, and not only talk the talk but walk the walk that others will follow. Let us be big enough to move past this with heads held high and continue to work towards a peaceful world. It begins with us as both a country and as individual citizens of the world. Let it start here and may we all live to see a peaceful, worldwide community.

    May 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. enough

    wikileaks.com

    May 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Rick

    Per the announcement we are watching right now – "When Obama saw the picture he said "that's him"". If it is so obvious to him from that picture, why would it not be so obvious to the rest of the world that its him if we saw it? The reason people are so demanding for a photo is simply this – People .. do .. Not.. Trust.. the ..Government. Period. Otherwise, this would not be a issue.

    May 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • john

      i believe we should trust the government as long as its not part of the obama administration this is absurd tht he wont show us a guy with a gunshot wound.

      May 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Regina

      I agree. If they do not want to show the picture of OBL dead then show us the DNA test results. We deserve to have proof that the Most wanted Terrorist has been captured. It is OUR tax payer monies that have been funding this war for years. I think we deserve to see proof!

      May 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      thank u regina and yes u have to show something but i do think he is truely dead our soldiers have been there for a decade and i dont thik they would lie about something now but i do agree with u

      May 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Earnest Lee Saddened

    More Proof Obama is not a president, he has no interest in asking Americans what we want, The day of change the channel is suddenly gone in todays see it all world. Obama now plays KING and decides for us. "It was a majority opinion to not release the photos"!!!!!! Of his cabinet!!!!! We know Osama has been replaced, by a second in command, terrorists make backup plans too. Nothing has changed but Osama decides showing a picture will enrage Al Queda. He DECIDES America has a GREAT SENSE of CLOSURE amid his constant HIDDEN FACTS that we have to swallow without seeing for ourselves. Time to IMPEACH KING Obama!!!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • john

      deffinitely dont vote for him as president pot to get off topic but the moron got 4 years of presidency and he got us into more debt and he has a 12 year plan to get us out of debt. that is also stupid it should take u less obama ur never getting my vote i dont care who u kill in ur campaign

      May 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      your name suits you. you are a sad individual. the decision was not made by the Presidnt alone. why do you need to see proof of Osama's ugly dead face. about your comment about the government controlling us, well how about Osama's mimions controlling you? You sound just like them wanting to see proof because they want to instill more doubt. I am not sorry we killed him and i am glad he is dead. you may not believe it but with the age of technology, why has he not come on the internet or the airwaves to discredit our President. He can't because he is dead and it is just a waste of airtime to air his ugly dead face..I dont want to see his freaking dead pictures on the airwaves for all i care....so heres to our President...."I SALUTE YOU AND YOUR ADVISOR FOR YOUR DECISION""!

      May 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      I can understand being cautious in offending someone, but lets face it, everything the nutt jobs do not agree with offends them. "Make a photgraph a trophy"???? Someone is a little misguided. Correct, that is not who we are. The photograph is a statement, not a trophy – This is what awaits you when you are a terrorist and kill innocent people. It will be a statement that they actually understand – place a little terror in the terrorists.

      May 4, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mcmurdo

    Good for Obama. Don't give those murdering pigs a recruiting tool. I hope the rumor that Pakistan is going to blow the "mansion" up is true. Just wipe that sucker right off the map without a trace don't give his followers anything to hold on to except the reality that he's chum now.

    May 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • john

      amen to that mcmurdo goodbye and good ridens but i would like to see the photos because on 9/11 i saw my brothers dead body and i want to make sure ubl is as f!@#$$ up in his face as possible

      May 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. chief master sergeant

    I support President Barack Obama who decided not to release photos of a dead Osama bin Laden.Hail to the Chief.

    May 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. oscar

    for those of u who do agree with the preisdent not releasing the photo are just completely ignorant... and shows just how much the government can control what goes in ur little itty bitty brain

    May 4, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • john

      thank u oscar thats exactly what i think

      May 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      IGNORANT MY ASS!! YOU JUST WANT TO SATISFY YOUR OWN CURIOSITY!! HAS NOTHING TO DO ABOUT "WHATS BEST FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AS YOU CLAIM" !

      May 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. john

    yo chief how many pictures have u seen of bodies in the 9/11 wreckage cuz ihave seen too many to equalize 1 photo of a gunshot wound, al queda is planning something against us anyways and u know it so it wont make tht much a difference

    May 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. chief master sergeant

    Earnest Lee Saddened
    You should have stayed in school

    May 4, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kalami Bin Waked

    John no one cares about your dead stupid brother, Obama is your president and you shud obey him

    May 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • john

      r u kidding right now ur not funny get the hell off

      May 4, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      i cared about my brother u peice of s!@# go blow something up with u inside it for me

      May 4, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      and kalami its not only about me its about 4000 other families tht were affected by 9/11

      May 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Big Game James

    All you have to do to clear this up is find somebody who wants to fund a deep sea excavation to find Osama's body. Trump has got that kind of money...right?

    May 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • john

      hahahaha thats funny big game lol

      May 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. richfedx

    Per the announcement we are watching right now – "When Obama saw the picture he said "that's him"". If it is so obvious to him from that picture, why would it not be so obvious to the rest of the world that its him if we saw it? The reason people are so demanding for a photo is simply this – People .. do .. Not.. Trust.. the ..Government. Period. Otherwise, this would not be a issue.

    May 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rick

      Dude, seriously? The copy and past of my statement 2 minutes before this one? You must work for the government,

      May 4, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Sorry, 22 minutes before this one. I must work for the government too – in the budget department. I can't add !!!

      May 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kalami Bin Waked

    John, go throw some flowers on your brothers grave, I will go to and spit on it.

    May 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. John From New York

    Pictures of his DB should not be releases. Let us NOT add fuel to a fire that is already volatile.

    May 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • john

      john from ny dont u think we will alreay get retailiated on so its not gonna matter

      May 4, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. john

    richfedx look at the top of this whole blog tht was already said

    May 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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