Osama Bin Laden Death Photo Will Not Be Released, President Obama Decides


Updated below

President Barack Obama has opted not to release a photograph of Osama Bin Laden’s dead body, CBS is reporting. We wondered yesterday if the United States should release one of the pictures taken depicting Bin Laden shot above the left eye and in the chest after Sunday’s raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and how the media and conspiracy theorists would react to the graphic image. Now it seems we may never know.

Reuters reported yesterday that Taliban leaders in Afghanistan held off on commenting about Bin Laden’s death as of Tuesday morning, “As the Americans did not provide any acceptable evidence to back up their claim.” But the story told by Bin Laden’s 12-year-old daughter of watching her father shot dead could be the best proof they’ll receive.

As we noted yesterday, CNN provided the following rundown of the evidence in existence:

1. Photos of OBLs body at a hanger after he was brought back to Afghanistan. This is the most recognizable with a clear picture of his face. The picture is gruesome because he has a massive open head wound across both eyes. It’s very bloody and gory.

2. Photos from the burial at sea on the USS Carl Vinson. Photos of OBL before the shroud was put on and then wrapped in the shroud.

3. There are photos of the raid itself that include photos of the two dead brothers, one of OBLs dead son (adult adolescent, maybe approx 18 yrs old) and some of the inside scene of the compound.

Plenty of fake photos have circulated already, but President Obama will reportedly explain his decision to keep the real ones secret in an interview with Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes to air Sunday. Being that it’s only Wednesday and the news is out, expect an official announcement from the White House, if not Obama himself, sometime today.

UPDATE: In a press conference just after 2 p.m. on Wednesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney read President Obama’s answers from the 60 Minutes interview and then took questions. In the transcript Carney read, Obama says that he did see the photographs and the president relayed his first response: “It was him.”

“We discussed this internally,” Obama said. “Keep in mind that we are absolutely certain that this was him… There is no doubt that we killed Osama Bin Laden.”

But Obama said he would not release the images for fear they would become a national security risk — “an incitement to additional violence” or “a propaganda tool.”

“That’s not who we are,” Obama said, and we “don’t trot out this stuff as trophies.” He kept with the sports metaphor and noted that while Bin Laden got what he deserved, “we don’t need to spike the football.”

This post was originally published at May 4, 2011, at 1:29 p.m. ET.