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. Molly

    So our Pres. won't release pictures of a dead bin Laden because a; not enough "credible" ppl are asking to see them? What, the MAJORITY of Americans aren't "credible" enough? And b; pictures are too graphic? What, pictures of ppl leaping out of a burning tower weren't too graphic? I'm sorry, but "American ppl" are distrustful of what the "government" says and want proof positive

    May 4, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. GeronimoKIA

    The photos should not be released – I don't need to see them to know that he is dead. Besides, it won't make any difference to the non-believers even if they do release them. They will claim they are fakes.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Cheryl Jensen

    I believe the decision to not release the photos is the correct decision. I don't think it is being made out of respect for Bin Laden. I don't think we need more rioting by militants and terrorists, and that is most likely what would happen.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Big Game James

    @richfedex Calm down before you drop somebody's package!! Maybe Osama had a tracking number!!

    May 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. John From New York

    People today – news organizations ... are too quick to post pictures of anything and everything. Freedom of speech, freedom of press is a wonderful thing,,, but come on.. really ... I dont always agree with what our president and government does.. but in this case, it was a wise and responsbile decision not to release these pictures.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Angel

    Let the president do his job we do not know the reasoning behind him deciding not to release the pictures. We are on the outside looking in. I would rather him keep Americans safe here and outside the States than for him to release pictures that could put American lives in danger. When he feels the time is right he will release the pictures but for now for what ever the reason he has decided not to do so.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. USA_Victorious

    Just like SHOW ME THE MONEY!!! SHOW ME THE PICTURES!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. CrazyLady

    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.

    As long as al Qaeda is satisfied, shouldn't we all be satisfied? For Obama, it is never about us.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. mary

    Wow Lucy a bit over the top don't ya think? If you read what I posted that somehow my name got mixed up with soMeone elses! I posted that we should stick together! Etc.. But you said die soon with a dik up my ass? Really? How old are you? This is supposed to be an intelligent place to express one's ideas and you can only give me some 9th grade comeback? Why don't you check to see if the cartoon network has a site that you can chat on? Something a little more on your level! When you grow up then you can come back and play with adults!! Now back to other things that are much more important! I just would like to say it again, we should all stick together and support our country as a whole! Pictures or no pictures, is it really going to affect our lives and the way we live and love? You know some time someone will get a hold of them and post it for all to see who need to see to believe! People, it will all work out! Really! Signed, MARY~

    May 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Marcy

    Pictures are not going to change anything. He is still dead and his people are still going to retaliate. This is DONE!! It doesn't matter if it was legal, if he was armed, it we should have done it, NONE OF IT MATTERS NOW! One less terrorist who didn't care if it was legal, moral or otherwise to blow up our buildings and kill our people. The only ones who really know what happened and to who are the SEALs that were there.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Gabriel Pittman

    Obama is a coward!! He already had him killed, what else is he afraid of. I will never beleive he is dead until I see proof.Why with the simpathising Obama! I cant wait until you are out of the White House!!!!!GP

    May 4, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Bsuh Destroyed America

    we could always go dive in the ocean and get his dead body and prop it up in a chair and take some new pics, but his dead mutilated decaying body with half a head and face with his brains sticking out one side has likely already been torn to shreds like a tattered bloody wet rag chum doll by the sharks now anyway.. oh well, too bad.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Bush Destroyed America

    we could always go dive in the ocean and get his dead body and prop it up in a chair and take some new pics, but his dead mutilated decaying body with half a head and face with his brains sticking out one side has likely already been torn to shreds like a tattered bloody wet rag chum doll by the sharks now anyway.. oh well, too bad.....

    May 4, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Robert

    @Mary, Lucy wasn't the one that posted that comment, it was bomb your @@@

    May 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. John From New York

    OBL is dead... thank God and the US Navy Seals. It is done and it is time to move on to the next battle...

    May 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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