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. Tarek Hamzi

    I don't understand how you can have a gay military, its nasty and filthy, its the worst sin you can make, shame on the US.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. George Patton


    May 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Patton

      Sorry Tarek, I never posted the above. Some jacka$$ stole my ID to make me look stupid. In fact,the Navy Seals are nothing but a bunch of highly trained, hightly paid killers. I feel repulsed and how!!!

      May 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. hamzi hater

    To hamzi we certainly showed how week are military was as we shot your boy in the head....Please Obama just release the pictures of his death so we can put an end to this...don't drag it out like your stupid birth certificate...Were big kids we can handle it, daddy

    May 4, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Omar

    What are you talking about?

    May 4, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Omar

    George you shouldn't make fun of God's creation. Haven't you heard the saying two wrongs don't make a right. God bless you.
    God bless America.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. the good

    You get what u got it is what it is so he laden deal with it who cares

    May 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Future Historian

    I must apologize, what you stated actually got me upset. Not that I think you are any more right than before, but I usually don’t rant.
    You, my little wanabe terrorist, are a small and shallow individual. You think you are a warrior because you send 10 and 11 year old children to self-destruct in a market full of innocent people. Tell me again how that is a Hero? To me that is the description of a coward. A suicide bomber is not a hero, there is no glory to be found in the killing of innocent people and your type actually targets places where there are civilians. Your own people! How does that make you a Hero? Yes acts like this make even a handful of mentally disturbed clowns dangerous to others, but it will never make you a warrior or a Hero.
    On the other hand our soldiers are trained to be effective and civil. We target idiots like yourself, but we do not target civilians or innocents. In the heat of battle even we do make mistakes, I will give that up. We do not Target them though. We try to protect the innocent. We stand for those who cannot and that is what defines a Hero.

    You are no warrior! You are no Hero! You are like dirt beneath our feet!

    May 4, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. puckett

    we have the best military in the world and you all should know that. islam is for evil people and they will get what they have coming to them. Dont mess with America... or israel!!

    May 4, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • 14Him

      puckett, This is one of the smartest things I have "heard" said on here. America can fall, but the nations that mess with Israel will fall. America needs to be careful as we are not exempt in this. If we turn our back on Israel....we will fall.

      May 4, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • CJ

      Anyone who thinks Islam is an evil religion is just as ignorant as Bin Laden. My father and 2 siblings are Muslim. I was born in America to married parents, 1 who happens to be from Saudi Arabia. They divorced and I stayed here in the US and no Im not Muslim and if you walked past me you couldnt even tell I was 1/2 Arab....Im a Christian bc its what I chose to be..there are radicals in EVERY religion..look at Fred Phelps and his "church" supposedly preaching Gods way, they are home grown verbal terrorists. Go get the Koran and read it before you try to talk about something you obviously know nothing of.

      May 4, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Omar

    I pray to God for Al-Qaeda members to turn away from their wickedness and to repent of their wrongdoings and most importantly for them to to turn to Jesus Christ. That is my prayer for them.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Omar

    Allah is a false god.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mary

    Thanks Hamzi hater for a little clarification! I don't think that speaks for everyone over there! They do work hard just for the little they have! I would be hateful, bitter and filled with anger if I had to live like that and on top of it all wear a "bee keeper suit" as Bill Maher says! On another note, what does being Gay have to do with anything? Why bring that up? If there were any gay troops that participated in the raid, Thank You! You did a hell of a lot more than the people who are posting their nonsense! Your the heroes! Thanks again

    May 4, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. George Patton

    All this right-wing nonsense here makes me sick my stomach. I guess the the stupid people are in a big fat huzzah over this wanton murder and they'll vote for this Obama jerk next year,no doubt. How disgusting!!!

    May 4, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jim

    I do want to say I'm sorry for the children that had to see all the bad and killing take place. I'm thankful to GOD for osama's death because of what they did to US on 9/11. I've been right in town of Iraq's cities and received pictures from kids in the Orphanage's. they were scared of us, but I did what I could to show We, "THE US", are not monsters. I tried talking with them, I did games with them, I still to this day have those children's pictures and I will always pray for them to have a normal life. I would love to be able to return to those children and see how they have grown, and to hope and pray that they did not grow up to hate us just because we pray to GOD with the BIBLE. And they pray to ALLAH with the Quran. GOD BLESS AMERICA AND ALL who want peace and those children I met.

    May 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Hotornot

    So let me get this straight, my gov't fools us into war by strategically leveling twin towers. Then after ten years and thousands dead, they say we got the man we want you to believe is responsible. Yall know rome fell due to curruption, the us will fall in the same way. There are liars @the helm. And concerning gays history repeats itself, remember Sodom and Gamorah, it wont stop till there are none left. Confused? read the story.

    May 4, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • BT

      Please learn to spell, if you want people to believe your rants you should make them look credible by appearing to be intelligent. With that said... do you people actually believe the crap you spew out of your mouths about conspiracies or is it just a ploy for attention?

      May 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mary

    I have just posted a few things and I noticed that it said it was posted from Future historian and George Patton that's wrong, I always sign my name, Mary. I don't know what happened from the time I posted to the time it posted! Let's see if it uses my name this time! MARY~

    May 4, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
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