Obama not to release photos of Bin Laden corpse

Published: May 5, 2011
Obama says bin Laden photo can be used as a 'propaganda tool'. PHOTO: AFP

Obama says bin Laden photo can be used as a 'propaganda tool'. PHOTO: AFP


US President Barack Obama said Wednesday he had decided not to release a photograph showing the body of Osama bin Laden for fear it will become a propaganda tool.

“That is not who we are. We don’t trot this stuff out as trophies,” Obama said in an interview with CBS, adding it was important to keep photographic evidence from “floating around as incitement or propaganda tool.”

“There is no doubt that Bin Laden is dead. Certainly there is … no doubt among al Qaeda members that he is dead. And so we don’t think that a photograph in and of itself is going to make any difference. “The fact of the matter is, you will not see Bin Laden walking on this earth again,” Obama said, according to an excerpt of the interview read by White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Obama had consulted members of his national security team about whether to release the photo which he has seen, before taking his decision.

Carney said there had been debate within the US administration about whether to release the images, which he described as “graphic photographs of someone who was shot in the face — the head, rather.”

“It is not in our national security interests to allow those images, as has been in the past been the case, to become icons to rally opinion against the United States,” Carney said.

Bin Laden’s identity had been firmly established, Carney said, and Obama saw “no other compelling reason” to release them, given the potential for national security risks.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry defended Obama’s decision.  “I believe it is absolutely the right decision,” Kerry told Reuters. “Absent some major challenge to the fact of death, there is no clamour that I can discern requiring proof of death and I think it would in fact create a kind of ghoulish exploitation that is not appropriate … could encourage repercussions…”

Senator Kelly Ayotte told reporters at the US Capitol the photo she saw confirmed Bin Laden’s identity. She said it was a facial shot and that another senator showed it to her. “I saw a photo of him deceased, the head area. Obviously he had been wounded … I can’t give any better description than that,” she said.

Ayotte spoke to reporters after CIA Director Leon Panetta gave a closed-door briefing on Bin Laden’s death to senators on the Armed Services and Intelligence committees. But there was no indication that she had seen the photo during that forum.

Other senators who attended the briefing said they had not seen Bin Laden photos.

US lawmakers disagree over whether photos of Bin Laden should be released to the public. Ayotte said they should – to help quash any doubts about whether Bin Laden was dead.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen that in many instances around the world there can be conspiracy theories about these types of events. So I think it’s important in terms of closure, that while nobody wants to see disturbing photos, the closure aspect I think is very important.”

But House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said releasing the photos “will only serve to inflame opinion in the Middle East.”

“Osama bin Laden is not a trophy – he is dead and let’s now focus on continuing the fight until al Qaeda has been eliminated,” he said in a statement.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney also said that President Barack Obama reserves the right to act again against top terror suspects inside Pakistan.

Carney was asked whether the president would be prepared to target fugitives again if they were on Pakistani soil, despite Islamabad’s complaints the Bin Laden raid was unauthorised and unilateral.

“He made very clear during the campaign that that was his view. He was criticised for it,” Carney said. “He maintained that that was his view and, by the actions he has taken as president, feels that it was the right approach and continues to feel that way,” he said.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-senator Obama said that he would order action against Bin Laden or other senior al Qaeda leaders inside Pakistan if the country’s leadership “is unable or unwilling to act.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2011.


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Reader Comments (45)

  • junaid
    May 4, 2011 - 11:45PM

    no problem.. it will sooon be released.. thanks to wikileaks :DRecommend

  • rehan
    May 4, 2011 - 11:49PM


  • Raza
    May 4, 2011 - 11:55PM

    yeh to hona hi tha…Recommend

  • May 5, 2011 - 12:01AM

    wah masoomiat. Like Sadam’s hanging video was not graphic at all..Recommend

  • Ali Haider
    May 5, 2011 - 12:04AM

    Nothing new. Everyone knew they would not release the photos. Just like they never really released the whole video of the plane flying into the Pentagon. Just three frames???Recommend

  • Jameel Shah
    May 5, 2011 - 12:07AM

    ROFL .,…… LMAO,,,, What else….Recommend

  • sam
    May 5, 2011 - 12:07AM

    Bin Laden is not dead, a Political stunt, which Pakistan was part of was pulled in order to make Obama win the November election, and for Pakistan to receive billions of dollars in aid. With such modern technology, Osama could be anywhere in the world, he must have gotten hundred of plastic surgeries, made couple of clones of himself, and God knows what else. Recommend

  • NK
    May 5, 2011 - 12:07AM

    I ain’t buying this crap!Recommend

  • May 5, 2011 - 12:09AM

    This is absurd. Already a DNA test is raising suspicion as it was carried out unbelievably quickly. At least they should release his video or photographic evidence to kill the controversies and doubts.Recommend

  • sam
    May 5, 2011 - 12:12AM

    Osama in not dead, a Political Stunt played by the American Government, as well as the Pakistani Government in order to receive billions of dollars in war of terror aid, and to make Obama win the November election. with such modern technology, OBL could be anywhere in the world, must have tens of clones of himself, and must have gotten plastic surgery couple of times to change his appearance.Recommend

  • Architect
    May 5, 2011 - 12:35AM

    They are afraid of him even after his death.. Geo OsamaRecommend

  • Hedgefunder
    May 5, 2011 - 12:40AM

    well who really wants to see this horror show??Recommend

  • S.M.R
    May 5, 2011 - 12:46AM

    Sureeee…. whatever you say… mr. obama. Since when is submitting THE ONLY EVIDENCE of osama bin laden’s death trotting a trophy? You invaded Pakistan with armed troops and planes for this guy, which under international law could be classified as an act of war. Your administration is pointing fingers at pakistan for hiding OBL, the least you can do is confirm he’s dead.

    submitting evidence to the world community is not the same as putting a picture of his naked mangled corpse out full screen on times square as a victory banner. There is a way to handle this with dignity.

    I’m still of the opinion 9/11 was an inside job(documentary called loose change turned me).Recommend

  • Fahad Raza
    May 5, 2011 - 12:48AM

    Its like bush saying..Look..ii ii. its hard for me to explain just take my word for it …. Hen..hehh.

    Come On O-bomb-A.. You were the best orator America ever had …after Kennedy of course what got in to ya.!!.. POWER???Recommend

  • John
    May 5, 2011 - 12:54AM

    “the CIA has no technology to make a photo look like OBL. So, they are hiding the truth”

    “OBL’s lawyer objected to the release of the photo and judge agreed”

    “lawyers file petition in Lahore high court for OBL photo”

    “PAK National assembly passed resolution demanding the release of OBL photo”

    “where is the beef, says Sarah Palin regarding OBL photo”

    “I told you so, they do not have OBL. It is all staged” -Hamid Gul.

    Can some one help me, I ran out of ideas. Recommend

  • Ram Pandit
    May 5, 2011 - 12:56AM

    The terrorist sympathizers on the streets of Pakistan are mourning bin Laden, that is proof. No need to release the photo.Recommend

  • james
    May 5, 2011 - 1:13AM

    you want proof ?..just go and ask the wife of laden and children left out in the compound and interrogate with all your ISI master capabilities .Bring a lie detector ,child psychologist,Brain mapper and elicit the truth ..And dont forget to check the nearest ISI outpost call records and you will find the call carrying the crying message of osama’s death to some senior ISI officials.Recommend

  • Javed Afridi
    May 5, 2011 - 1:19AM

    It’s nothing more than US confession to losing war against Taliban. A very ill-planned exit strategy and history will remember Afghanistan as another Vietnam for US. Gooodbye USA and stay safe on your own land.Recommend

  • Cautious
    May 5, 2011 - 1:22AM

    Strategic decision – he knows that photo’s will never convince the fanatics – he also knows that OBL isn’t going to rise from the grave and make a TV appearance. He also has the fallback position to release the photo at a later date and throw more egg on the face of the conspiracy theory retards.

    The fact that Pakistan govt isn’t questioning his death should say alot – they have the most to gain by questioning whether he was actually in Pakistan yet they seem to know that OBL was there and that he is dead.Recommend

  • Hedgefunder
    May 5, 2011 - 1:29AM

    LOL! On this one no! sorry my good man!!
    I am sure they will release some in due course!!!Recommend

  • faraz
    May 5, 2011 - 1:35AM

    Conspiracy theorists in Pakistan are going to have a field day despite the 12 women and children, including 3 wives, that are in the custody of our agencies, and who are witness to the entire operation. Recommend

  • May 5, 2011 - 1:42AM

    What is so shameful is that Pakistan’s Army Chief has sealed his lips. Why can’t the man speak up and confirm what everybody knows – that Obama suffered from kidney failure and died a long time ago. While Pakistan has become the punching bag of the world, our cowardly “leaders” – civilian and military – are unable to raise their voices to defend the country’s honour.

    The silence of the cowards has emboldened the Americans to tell ever more brazen lies, reverse their earlier claims and plumb new depths of hypocrisy. Osama was only a mini terrorist, the mega terrorist is the man with a similarly sounding name whose Hitlerite bloodthirst is not easy to quench.Recommend

  • Kaleem
    May 5, 2011 - 3:30AM

    That’s because this is the BIGGEST HOAX the world has ever seen ! ur not releasing the pictures because your experts at fbi,cia and secret service are busy creating them !Recommend

  • Indian USA
    May 5, 2011 - 4:26AM

    I doubt the intelligence of those who questions the death of OSAMA..If at all this was drama, Americans would not leave wives and children of osama unharmed..some are in custody and some are in hospital..soon facts will come out from them..Recommend

  • May 5, 2011 - 4:51AM

    @ John,
    The engineers at Pixar and Miramax are still celebrating. Recommend

  • Nadeem Ahmed
    May 5, 2011 - 5:12AM

    A wise step by Obama. If Osama is not dead, then why religious parties are having prayers for him and why Imran looks so sad. Recommend

  • mzubair452
    May 5, 2011 - 5:53AM

    usama is agreat leaderRecommend

  • vasan
    May 5, 2011 - 6:41AM

    Here is my take John:
    OBL is an imaginary character created by US for beating Pakistan at their convenient time ,place and reason of US’s choice – Hamid zaid
    The world should share the blame for not receiving OBL photo – Gilani
    Stop the NATO trucks till either photo or OBL is released – Imran khan
    Sorry the photo is not taken in a digital camera, It was in a roll. Kodak has closed the development and printing studio, Wail till they build one – Nadeem paracha of Dawn
    By mistake they chewed the roll – AfridiRecommend

  • Cosmo
    May 5, 2011 - 7:47AM

    and you are the one with 10 limbs , a big long curled up of tail and a monkey growing inside of of your ear. Well, that’s my conspiracy theory for you. Recommend

  • Anoop
    May 5, 2011 - 7:58AM

    OMG. The amount of lack of clarity in the above commentators is amazing and dangerous. Many support a mass murderer and many deny his death.

    This is a dangerous trend. The amount of paranoia and support for militants is quite shocking in Pakistan!

    For all those guys who say it was a fake operation, let me remind you of Osama’s relatives and fellow Terrorists who were shot dead or are either in Hospitals in Pakistan.

    Shame on all of you. I pity you.Recommend

  • Nobody
    May 5, 2011 - 8:41AM

    @Ram Pandit:
    Mourning someones death isn’t “proof,” that just means the percentage of fellow monsters like OBL believe their ‘hero’ to be dead. There’s a difference. Recommend

  • RizwanTKhan
    May 5, 2011 - 10:02AM

    That is because US never killed Osama. He died due to health reasons outside Pakistan but US had to take the credit to show its nation that the US govt is not just wasting their tax money and also to blame Pakistan in order to keep this so-called war on terror alive.

    If I am wrong then US shall prove us wrong with the proofs. Recommend

  • May 5, 2011 - 10:05AM

    So here’s the deal: 1) The White House announced that a Navy Seal team raided Osama’s residence in Pakistan; 2) They allegedly conducted a DNA analysis and confirmed that the man shot in the head is Osama but never showed us the actual result or explained where they got the prior control sample to set up the profile for a match test; 3) They announced that they took the body to an aircraft carrier and dumped it overboard after a Muslim funeral; 4) They said they have pictures but are refusing to show them to the general public. I’m certain that if the Seals killed a decoy and Osama is still alive somewhere else, he won’t wait long before appearing on AL Jazeera Television to thumb his nose at the world (G-d forbid). So, unless Osama made a deal with Obama to trade information for witness protection, in the absence of any visible shred of corroborating forensic evidence, time will tell whether the dead chicken of the sea is really Osama Bin Laden or has Obama been Lying? Recommend

  • Saman
    May 5, 2011 - 10:08AM

    Why in the world would OBL choose a place like Pakistan to hide?? when CIA and Blackwater are active all over the country….Does not make sense..Staged…Yes….Anyway they should present a proof of his death…Recommend

  • Amir
    May 5, 2011 - 10:09AM

    OBL is staying in Nooristan povice in Afganistan. The world will see another shock soon.Recommend

  • shahid akhtar
    May 5, 2011 - 10:15AM

    the photo & any video shoul be released as though such graphic photos are unacceptable in the civilised world but given the huge numbers of conspiracy theory nut cases in our land,visual proof is needed for the ever in denial brigade.

    these graphic photos wont be offensive for us as we are comfortable with throwing acid on women,marrying underage small girls,cutting off the heads of people like animals in the name of religion,showering with rose petals a cold blooded murderer inspired by religion,accusing of blasphemy anyone daring to speak against bigotry,misogyny & homophobia.

    these photos won’t offend us,we do far worse to our own in this country.Recommend

  • muhammad adeel
    May 5, 2011 - 10:16AM

    for all the paranoid,in denial followers of ziad hamid,farhat hashmi,hamid gul photographic evidence won’t be enough either.these people have fixed,rigid opinions & attitudes and no amount of rational,logical evidence is going to convince them.These people continue to believe that ex-muslims have to be murdered,that athiests & agnostic should not be allowed to live,that gays & lesbians deserve death & that killing whom these religious barbarians call blasphemers will get them 72 virgins in heaven.Recommend

  • Fawad
    May 5, 2011 - 10:29AM

    How many people out of 180 Million are mounring…. Mr Ram Pandit…

    This is obviously a fabricated incident. How can it be.. no reason can be big enough to hide his body and pictures.

    The agenda against Pakistan goes much deeper. Recommend

  • NA
    May 5, 2011 - 10:38AM

    My Indian friends have nothing to say but lame excuses. Keep it up guys…Recommend

  • javed
    May 5, 2011 - 11:09AM

    yes because this drama is fake that why he did not release osama photo..they try to fool the whole world…Recommend

  • Observer (Mumbai)
    May 5, 2011 - 11:09AM

    Let the conspiracy theories flow. Let me help:

    The (CIA/Mossad/RAW) created the person called OBL who is actually a (Christian/Jew/Hindu) and transported him to Afghanistan in 1990 to covertly create the Taliban to control Afghanistan and reap the benefits from poppy trade while simultaneously planning for the 9/11 attacks to be carried out 10 years later using Jewish money to kill Americans so that (US/Europe/Israel) get an excuse to invade the middle east for their oil.

    Did I leave anything out?Recommend

  • Awais
    May 5, 2011 - 11:44AM

    In order to release a photograph, one needs a photograph.Recommend

  • May 5, 2011 - 12:12PM

    From fridge to bottom of sea.Recommend

  • Aamer
    May 5, 2011 - 3:04PM

    Photo or no photo. I can assure you, even if US forces didn’t kill the real Osama, they have enough experts to ‘Photoshop’ a picture to near reality.Recommend

  • Aamna
    May 5, 2011 - 8:39PM

    Come on wikileaks, this is your job now :DRecommend

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