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. Sam

    I'm sorry of my last statement. The president
    should show the photos of osama.

    May 5, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. Ray

    Why wont President Obama release Bin Laden's death photos?I want a good reason!We deserve proof of his death!What happend to freedom of the press! The media showed Sadam's hanging!People who dont want to see this,dont have to watch or let there children watch it either! The televison stations showed people hanging out the windows of the towers,then jumping to their death's,so whats the difference?We have a right to see or not to see ,thanks to our miltary!

    May 5, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Motiur

      I think its a personal decision , just like invading Iraq or Afghanistan.

      May 5, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
  3. Michael DeForbes

    I agree with the reason given for not releasing the photo, that it would become an icon to recruit more terrorists. Basically, that's a nice way of saying that the White House cannot trust the American people to not make lude and inflammatory posters with the image. Knowing the way Americans felt about bin Laden and Muslims, within days the world would probably see the bin Laden death photo with the following words underneath: "That's what all you Muslims deserve!" or "Warning to all Muslims: Mess with the US and this is what you get!" Can you imagine how many more terrorists that would be created by seeing posters like this? No, The White House did the right thing, because, unlike some Americans, they don't want to make things worse, which would cause other Americans (like our soldiers) to die.

    May 5, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Motiur

      Well , breaking news , 25 people were killed in Baghdad , today .
      No offence people outside US have seen enough deaths , 1 more does not make that of a difference .
      The only reason people want to see the photo is that whether US politicians were telling the truth all way long .
      Its lot of lives that were lost in Iraq , Afghanistan and US , just for 1 man .
      And why don't you think I or you don't want to make a roast of this terrorist .

      http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/05/05/iraq.violence/?hpt=T2

      May 5, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      "The only reason people want to see the photo is that whether US politicians were telling the truth all way long"

      That may be your reason, but there are other Americans out there who would love to create sadistic posters with the death photo and post them online so everyone in the world can see them. You may be a trustworthy person, but I don't feel that all of us are like you. People keep bringing up the photos of Americans that died in 9-11, and these pics fueled Americans rage to permit a war in Iraq. That same kind of rage will be fueled on the other side if the pic of Osama's death photo is released.

      May 5, 2011 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. joe gordon

    I thought we are a democracy,shoulldn't we vote on the pics being released ?

    May 5, 2011 at 10:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex Kasper

      We are not a democracy and never have been. We are a republic – big difference.

      May 5, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  5. MTT

    Should the U.S. release photos/videos of Osama bin Laden's body? http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=question&id=10150169442466428&qa_ref=qd

    May 5, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  6. BRANDI

    f*** osama bin LADEN.!

    May 5, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sickpnai

    Obama will release the photos just before the election so the American people will remember that he brought down the bad person OBL.

    May 5, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. kennethreno4

    hiding how OBL was shot in the back? why not show photos, they will show if OBL was shot in the back.Why would he have a gaping hole in his forehead if he was shot in the eye the gaping hole would be in the back of the head? and the chest wound will show if he was shot in the back or front. lets see the photos what is obama hiding?

    May 5, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. petey

    I would not be suprised to see this hole thing be a lie I want to see pics and autopsy pics before I believe it obama is bad to lie the hole country knows it and next year is election and this is just the boost he needs for re election don't do it america we are doomed if we put him back in office for god sake wake up america he is covering to much up for it to be a good thing

    May 5, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. petey

    To be a transparent administration they sure hide a lot 9 11 was before obamas Time if he had americans best interest at heart cnn would have a pic of bin ladens dead body showing every 30 seconds because the people that lost love ones that day would have some closure and be able to say my family member can rest in peace because we got their murderer just like pres bush said we would

    May 5, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. krshan

    They shall show the photos to the senators representatives judges & consulate general of various countries on behalf of the people of the world.

    May 5, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. holysmokebat

    mr president.i sure wish one of you presidents could start to ackknowledge canadas presence.your predeccesor mr bush said that we were either with the u.s.or against.well we watched over and over planes crashing into the world trade centre.by the way they were not called us trade centre.canadians were also killed.our govertment made the decision to help in the fight and am proud that we were able to.in the last ten years i have watched many of our soldiers come home in body bags.our economy suffered but we fought on.we did not find bin laden but we found a lot of places he wasnt.we even had troops killed in friendly fire.where does the us get off taking all the credit.and who are you mr president to say what canadians can and cannot look at.how about some closure for all the canadians that paid the ultimate price for freedom for the rest of us.all the countries involved and the U.s is taking credit for it.shame on you.we saw videos of bin laden smiling about what he did,we saw dancing in the streets with joy,we also saw people jumping off the towers because what was going on was worse.i am canadian and you should be grateful as you now know how i would vote.

    May 6, 2011 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
  13. Raymond

    MAYBE OBAMA SHOULD RECONSIDER SHOWING THE PICS SINCE NOW AL QUAEDA IS ACKNOWLEDGING BIN LADEN DEATH. THEY ONLY ACKNOWLEDGE IT SINCE THEY DO NOT WANT THEIR INSPIRATIONAL LEADER ON THE TUBE SPORTING A NEW LOOK. " THIRD EYE "

    May 6, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. petey

    Obama is a coward in the eyes of the world for not doing the right things he does not have leadership qualities that this country needs

    May 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Daniel

    I find it so funny that Obama doesn't want to release the photos of Osama's body because "it would be like spiking a football after a touchdown" yet he has no problems releasing photos of other bodies found in the compound!

    Does anyone else see the irony in this?

    May 6, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
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