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. mob

    I'm Nigerian, i think you IF he wasn't really killed, there wouldn't be protests in the middle east.

    However, the US Goverment doesn't have the final say. Al Qaeda's second in command has.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tyler

    Show us the body or get outta office Obama! Fake or not, you're hiding something. The fact of the matter is, they didn't kill him. They have a single cell (the DNA) and thus prooved that he was dead LONG ago back when bush started this and obama is trying to take credit for it. If you don't want to see it then don't look! (You know you will so quit lying) The 5000 people that died in the world trade center want justice and proof! The people who fought in afganistan want proof! The families of those who have lost loved ones in this war want proof! We also need to send a strong message to the terrorists that say "We will kill you all if you mess with us." This is simple logic, mess with america, you will lose no matter how long it takes. We will not yeild to terrorism! Let the other nations say we're gloating. If you don't release the pictures you will NOT be in the whitehouse for your second term. Hope you enjoyed your stay but it's time to get out you liar!

    May 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • SnakemanJeff

      Thank God! Another American who is not drinking the kool aid!. Right on! We won't be fooled again!

      May 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dahlia

    This monster has cause pain and grief for the many people. AND, I hope President Barack will reconsider and release a photo of Osama bin Laden body. I want to see it before I actually believe is dead

    May 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Brandon

    I suggest that the President offer the photos up to the tabloids/media for the highest bidder and then put the money towards our national debt.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Big Game James

    @Gabriel Back to your Pitt, man.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Emily

    If the President decided not to release any photos, then there is something he is hiding, and not telling the truth. They showed the hanging of Sadam Hussen. It is not Osama that they killed.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SnakemanJeff

    The American people are sick and tired of the lies that emanate from the media and the WH. Since the Fed Act of 1913, the American people have been lied to and watched their republic be stripped away with each passing administration. This pathetic attempt to once again try and fool the American people may be the straw that breaks the camels' back. I doubt it. The only people still drinking the kool aid are the people in the media giving each other high fives and back slaps, and the mind controlled zombies claiming "we got em". The rest of us are waiting for the next 911 which will launch WW3. It's time for you to wake up get active or get radioactive.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dahlia

    This monster has cause pain and grief formany people. AND, I hope President Barack will reconsider and release a photo of Osama bin Laden body. I want to see his body before I actually believe he is dead

    May 4, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gabriel Pittman

    WE NEED TO SEE THE PICTURES YOU WORTHLESS PEICE!!!!! OBAMA IS A COWARD!!!!!!!I CAN NOT WAIT UNTIL THE ELECTION!!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. biber

    will people osama isn't really dead because that was just someone that looked like him but who knows is a crazy world..........etc at pakistan

    May 4, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lotto Cheatah

    @ mob
    Ayman al-Zawahiri is as good as dead too! It's as good as done, just a matter of time.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jacques Bailhe

    No matter what evidence is released to prove Bin Laden's death, skeptics will question it. There is only one thing that will incontrovertibly prove he's gone: his absence. Soon enough, that will be undeniably clear.

    May 4, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tyler

      This is one reason why i said he's already dead. We haven't seen squat from him in ages. He's been dead since that first night of bombing. They've been playing recorded messages they had stockpiled for years. They'll keep playing them if they feel they want to show us up just like they did before. Show the pictures cuz it doesn't matter if you don't. They'll still fight us either way. By us SAYING he's dead they'll still fight us. By not showing the pictures the only people you're hurting are those who you say you serve.

      May 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. David Alexander

    Shut up, and SHUT UP Brooke, trying to find some big conflict within the decision to not release the photos of an exploded bin Laden face. You're like a Donald Trump "carnival barker." Can't America be united for just a few hours before you put salt into every "you can't please everybody" wound you can find?

    May 4, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. crowdecker

    jeez its done ,get over it.........no pictures.......to mob..wake up man or woman .........

    May 4, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. SnakemanJeff

    Welcome to 1984. The first casualty in war is the truth. This is another example of the old axiom that people will believe a lie if it is big enough. This was a whopper! Stand by for another 911! We won't be fooled again!

    May 4, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
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