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. Shedevil963

    I agree with the president, the photo doesnt need to be released. Theres enougb crap out there. We see how the people are acting about the photo not being releaaed, would be worse if he did. I recall video of americans being beheaded on tv, the american goverment is no better if that photo were releaaed.

    May 5, 2011 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. Raboni

    in my own view about the death of Osama Bin Laden, if real according to CNN, that Osama Bin Laden was not armed the USA armed forces will have arest him. ok if real they killed the right person, which is Osama Bib Laden, they would have release the picture the very day he dead. and come to look at it, they said, they killed him and have buried him, so why are they hiding the pictures or videos of a dead man? i must say that if the President of USA can't release the pictures or give a reasonable proof that they killed the right person, that means they have make a big mistake by killing a different person. please CNN we need proof, real PROOF not any TEST, we need the VIDEO

    May 5, 2011 at 6:59 am | Report abuse |
    • flippin

      I am proud of Obama. It would be distasteful, offensive (and not only to bin Laden supporters), disrespectful and arrogant to release these photos. I don't think there are that many who truly believe bin Laden is still alive. I think they are after a cheap thrill and using doubt as an excuse to see the photo of a man with his brains displayed from a shot to the head. Faces of Death sells. People have morbid curiousity and our president has no obligation to satisfy irrational and immature Americans who would rather complain about being denied these photos then understand that our country is meant to be of dignity and respect. bin Laden was given his proper burial, people complain like they believed his body would be on display in some museum. What happened was bound to happen eventually, even he knew we would catch up I'm sure. There really is no reason to believe that he is alive somewhere, his daughter is speaking out about how he was murdered in front of her. America needs to deal with the fact that a man beleived to have this country great harm is now gone. We went in and got him, just like all the patriots wanted. Now those patriots want the photos trying to rationalize their desire with the excuse that it is the only proof. How about we listen to what the witnesses describe, including his own daughter. How about we notice there is no footage coming out of bin Laden vowing his revenge. How about we move on? I am proud of Obama for doing what is right and showing integrity and respect in the face of an enemy, getting the justice America wanted so badly and walking away with America's dignity intact. War is not pretty, why make it even uglier? God bless America!

      May 5, 2011 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. Angie

    When 911 happened and america watched, we became one nation,
    We were all upset, angry, fearful, distraught ....
    We wanted justice.
    It took ten years and now that justice has been served, we are divided.
    We never seem satisfied.
    Not too long ago we were reading "Osama been forgotten?"
    Now we want pictures and we complain of how he was killed and conspiracy theories.
    What the president and seals did for us, as Americans, is send a message that innocent Americans will not be terrorized.
    I for one am grateful.
    Do I believe he is dead?
    Yes, because he would never allow the world to believe america "got him" he would go out of his way to prove his existence.
    I do not believe in killing anyone, but I feel no remorse in this case.
    Osama was gloating about his attack and Obama dosent want to.
    I am proud of the president, the seals and to be an American.

    May 5, 2011 at 7:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Raboni

      Osama can keep silance for USA to do what they like, because he is a wanted man, but real if he is staill alive,then America should watch their back, because the are dealing with a mad-man

      May 5, 2011 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
    • flippin

      That part of the war is over, America needs to accept it and move on. I am embarrassed for all the thrill seekers wanting photos and turning their backs on the prez becuase he has decided to refuse them that oppotunity. Grow up, people.

      May 5, 2011 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Angie

      Raboni- yes you are correct that he CAN keep silent because he is a wanted man, BUT you also said he is a mad man- so why would he?
      A photo holding a newspaper with today's date will not show his whereabouts and could cause Americans to turn on their government and I think that would be good enough reason for that "mad man" to do it.

      May 5, 2011 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  4. Raboni

    i will like to no what is happening between Pakistan and USA. the first day, the President of USA was congratulating Pakistan for their support and compration, but now the Pakistan are saying that they are not informed. so what is really happening?. USA please make people to understand what is happening

    May 5, 2011 at 7:11 am | Report abuse |
  5. ronvan

    And on and on? Story is changing every day, but so what! This was an "Animal", that killed Americans and his own people. Beheadings, tourture, women & children used as "bombers". Was it legal? Who gives a hoot, he didn't! And do not even talk about bringing him to trial. We tried that with some of the Gitmo people, and people went nuts! This enitre mission was perfection. What we need to be talking about now is Pakistan! They KNEW he was there and lied their teeth off to us.

    May 5, 2011 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
  6. dan

    all i have to say is if they did get him and have pics they should show use we are the people and its not there decision its the countrys and we all pretty much say we want to see them what do they have to hide!

    May 5, 2011 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      So matters of national security are the people's decision now? I'll leave it up to the President and his advisors to decide whether or not to release these photos. In my mind, if this is the decision they have made, it is the right one.

      May 5, 2011 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  7. michaelfury

    "the haul included 10 hard drives"

    Were any of these among them?


    May 5, 2011 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  8. Paintbuffalo

    The ST6 commando team may have a Bloomberg TV. It is the same company that invented helicopeters.

    May 5, 2011 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  9. Paintbuffalo

    The ST6 commando team may have a prototype helicopter that was profiled on Bloomberg TV last week. It is the same company that invented helicopeters.

    May 5, 2011 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  10. curiousreader

    Osama has planned and killed thousands of humans without even seeing them and today for his death people want to know every move of him. Is he a great religious leader or is there any importance to see if he is hurt here and there. People who lost their beloved didnt even get the pieces of the body of their loved ones. And now world is curious to know if he is hurt in hands or in legs..

    May 5, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bob Williams

    This is what we have come to expect from the "most open administration" ever.....

    May 5, 2011 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  12. cynthiaj


    May 5, 2011 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
  13. Rapaline

    I don't need to see the photos to believe he's dead.
    But I want to see hi def video of the moment his eyes closed. Show me his nice clean body getting wrapped in the sheet. Coat the sheet in lard. Lower it slowly into the ocean. Put just enough rope on it to run it into the screws of Vinson. Hi def video all the way through.
    It won't make a darn bit of difference in what these fanatics already want to do to us. But they can take it as a warning that regardless of how you die, you'll be encased in pork forever and never get your virgins.

    May 5, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  14. dan smith

    Doesn't matter if the pictures are released or not, if bin laden was truly shot his followers will try to retaliate. Know this extremists hate Americans and wish to kill Americans whether the photos are shown to the public or not it makes no difference to them.

    May 5, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sam

    The president is only hurting himself, by not showing osama's photo's. He won't be the next president. I'd rather see President Bush
    at ground zero, Than president osama. Oops
    obama. Maybe that's why he don't want to show the photo's. Maybe it's pictures of his big brother- osama / obama, what do you

    May 5, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
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