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. nur amabo nur

    Blackhawk helicopter specifications- internal weight load- 2640 lbs
    Passenger capacity- 11 combat equipped troops. (11 people). Official story – 2 blackhawks went in w/25 troops total. 1 blackhawk had to be scrubbed due to technical problems. I would settle for a picture of a blackhawk flying with 25 troops on board a dead body, 10 hard drives and 5 computers.

    May 4, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. gingersa

    It was a smart decision not to release. I'm very proud of this administration. They are showing some restraint and sense against the main-steam-jerry-springer-ness of the the press and fringe. Good on him. I hope some adults decide to join him in the room.

    May 4, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      How come we saw the pictures of the dead people from 9-11 attack. We should see them and the seal video too of him being shot. We saw people jumping off the towers. Its not right for our President to hold back because of sensitivity issues. What about all those pics of the twin towers going down and the people dead.

      May 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. robert

    I have to see proof that the Bin Laden is really dead. It could be another cover up and plot to get Obama re-elected. Do you believe everything the Govt says? Why should we believe they killed Bin Laden based on the Presidents word without proof?

    May 4, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • veronica

      i agree how are we to believe that he is dead if there is no proof why are we being denied the opportunity to see the man who ruined our lives and took many of our loved ones away. i believe we all have the right to see the proof. that man took our loved ones and turned our lives upside down on 9-11 and the ones fighting for our freedom are our families risking their lives to save all of ours and we still can't see the proof of osama's death i feel like we all have risked enough and deserve the right to see the proof.

      May 4, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • kzp

      if you are that cynical about the government, why don't you move out of the country?

      May 4, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. fryguy

    they will eventually be released under the freedom of information act anyways, but the nation deserves the chance to see them, who gives a f*** about inflaming the moslem world? could they possibly hate us anymore than they already do?

    May 4, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. nur amabo nur

    Anybody ? Anyone? Please fill me in on what I missed and address the issue posted @ 8:52 Before I start ranting about stupid people believing these lies.

    May 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jim Jones

    Ok REUTERS shows the other three mean from Osamas compound dead as doornails... blood from the head, chest, ears ,eyes.... do you hear any backlash?? Is america in more DANGER now?? I think Obama is treating us like little sheltered sheep by saying we cant see the photos.... Unless the SEALS are high fiving and smiling in the photo i dont see why we cant see them. Everyones so focused on what kind of "outrage" the fundmentalists will think?? You think b/c we dont show photos of Osama that terrorists wont still decapitate, stone and promote sectarian violence??

    I see the pictures doing two things

    1. Stasify some of the pain EVERYONE had to deal with in this whole situation w 911 & afganistan (emotional and financial)
    2. Show any other leaders of terrorism: "this can happen to you" even if you hide for a long long time

    I think anyone hell-bent on killing Americans isnt going to be more motivated my Osamas death pic. I dont think that not showing this photo isnt going to prevent anyone from seeing gresome photos of death on the internet or newspapers (check the newspapers in mexico if you have a chance) we all experience death, even violent death one way or thru another... by sheltering us from it i dont see a purpose whatsoever.

    I feel that Obama isnt going to release them unless there is a GROWING demand. That way when he releases them he can say "oh but the people wanted it; its not the American governments [Obamas] fault" I see the trick hes using but it makes me feel less like an American and more like Obamas child. Fail.

    May 4, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mary

    Just read something several posts ago. If those that don't believe that he is dead, instead of demanding that OBAMA show the pictures why not demand that OSAMA show/prove that he is alive? Instead of insulting our government by not believing ( of course you have that right!) Why not demand pictures from bin laden! If he is alive I would think he'd jump on the chance to show us that our government lies! Put your anger and doubts where it truly belongs! On the enemy!! OSAMA~ doesn't that make more sense? Isn't that more American? The real MARY~

    May 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • veronica

      you are right mary but our family died here in the usa and our loved ones r the ones fighting for our freedom and they do it for the usa so y should obama hide this from us. osama is not the president of the us obama is so he should show us the vistory that our brave ones have had our loved ones that out there fighting and risking their lives for us everyday away from us their family the ones that if anything should happen to them we suffer we grieve while obama keeps living happy and fine and his daughters and wife sleep warm ad safe now u tell me do we not have the right to demand the proof from obama i think we do.

      May 4, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mary

    If the pictures were released, wouldn't that put other Americans all over the world ar risk of being killed? Wouldn't that risk other people as well? I don't think its just about us! The real MARY~

    May 4, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • veronica

      i'm sorry mary but don't u think that osama just being dead is a risk for us now their leader is (supposably) dead they r goin to retaliate now for his memory. hello either way we r still all in danger it will never end so i feel we all deserve proof of the death of osama.

      May 4, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. nur amabo nur

    Just 1 picture of a black hawk flying with 25 people, a body, 5 computers and 10 hard drives. That's all the evidence I need.

    May 4, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • gingersa

      for pete's sake, read an article. They had 2 back up helicopters. Total helicopters: 3. You can probably even find that info on Fox News or Major Paranoia Network....

      May 4, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. IKHAN

    I am absolutely certain that this wacko 'Tarek" posing as a muslim is trying to provoke us folks here. He is in fact a gay basher. I have read his postings elsewhere too.
    Just do not even engage.

    However this talk of nuking Mecca is non-sense. Mecca has nothing to do with the handful of terrorists we are fighting in Afghanistan. Who are responsible also for killing thousands of muslims around the world in terror attcks.
    Mecca is just a place of pilgrimage for muslims. Just like Vatican is for Catholics or Bethelhem for all Christianity or the Wailing Wall for Jews.

    What matters really is that OBL is dead. And this is the only laurel earned for us by the Obama administration from the whole Iraq-Afghanistan mess. We should take it with dignity not go on trupmeting it forever or it would detract from our national pride & prestige.
    The need of the hour is to get down to the business of ending this seemingly un-ending cycle of violence. God knows horrific number of American soldiers and local civilians in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan & Pakistan and around the world, have lost lives.

    OBL was indeed the criminal behind terror attacks all over ruthlessly taking innocent lives and deserved an even more painful end. But to think that he was also the architect of 9/11 attacks is naive.

    9/11 remains a big question mark.
    listen to the veteran ITN/BBC correspondent Alan Hart. He has been investigating 9/11 attacks. His interview with Kevin Barret of BBC is now on You Tube.
    Or listen to what the prominent Californian architect Richard Gage and more than a thousand of his peers, architects and engineers have to say. ith the evidence that they have collected they believe that the Twin Towers werebrought down by controlled demolition. You can Google this info.

    May 4, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. nur amabo nur

    Mr president would you care to revise your story...again?

    May 4, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Anthony Valerio

    In listening to arguments about the First Amendment and showing these pictures, I look back a few weeks and see a preacher in Florida burning the Quran. The after math left Westerners in various countries dead. Do we want a repeat?

    May 4, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Amaury

    Nice conversation!
    To go back on The subject Of Bin ladddden, it will be interesting to share opinion on the following question:
    DĂ©cision Of The US administration to not publishing pictures Of Osama body is for some hidden and/or basic politicals interests or a proof Of a thrue change in The US politics of terror?

    May 4, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. nur amabo nur

    Why don't we move the government out of OUR country ?

    May 4, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • gingersa

      The nurses are calling, time for meds, time for beds.

      May 4, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Madara Uchiha

    Can we see the picture of him so we'll know he's REALLY dead? Please.

    May 4, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
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