White House Will Not Release 'Gruesome' Bin Laden Photos

Obama decides not to release a photograph of a dead bin Laden since the photos are graphic and could be inflammatory.

THE GIST

President Barack Obama has decided not to release a photo of Osama bin Laden's body as evidence of his death.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president says "there is no doubt" that bin Laden is dead and that a photo won't "make any difference."

The photographs are described as gruesome and the concern is their release could be inflammatory.

The White House has decided not to release a photo of Osama bin Laden's body, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday.

President Barack Obama said "there is no doubt" that bin Laden is dead and that a photo won't "make any difference," Carney said, reading quotes by Obama from an interview with CBS recorded Wednesday.

Obama decided that the photos were too graphic and could inflame bin Laden's followers, Carney said. Still, their release would not change the minds of skeptics, according to the president.

"The fact of the matter" is that bin Laden will not been seen "walking on this Earth again," Carney quoted Obama as saying.

Where's Bin Laden's Body?

The White House had warned that a photo taken of Osama Bin Laden's corpse was "gruesome" and had expressed concern it could be inflammatory if released to prove the Al-Qaeda mastermind's death.

The White House made the decision two days after a daring special forces raid deep into Pakistan killed the Saudi-born terror leader in his secret lair.

Death Photos of Controversial Leaders

CIA Director Leon Panetta inadvertently stirred controversy over the photos in an interview with NBC Nightly News Tuesday when he suggested that the photos would be released.

"The bottom line is that, you know, we got bin Laden and I think we have to reveal to the rest of the world the fact that we were able to get him and kill him," Panetta said.

Later, Panetta said after briefing lawmakers about the bin Laden raid, that the decision on releasing the photo was coming "from the White House."

The publication of a picture of a dead bin Laden might have helped lay to rest any conspiracy theories in the wider world that Washington somehow faked his killing.

But officials were also conscious of the potential of stirring a backlash -- possibly against U.S. missions abroad, or other targets -- in the Muslim world from any picture deemed disrespectful to the dead or disfigured.

Another official said the bin Laden was shot above the eye in the raid on a Pakistani compound on Sunday, raising the prospect that any photo released to the public might offer graphic testimony of his death.

U.S. enemies are already beginning to cast doubt on Washington's word, questioning bin Laden's death for propaganda purposes.

The Afghan Taliban said it was "premature" to comment.

"Since the Americans have not provided convincing documents to prove their claim, and sources close to Sheikh Osama Bin Laden have not confirmed or denied the reports about his martyrdom yet... (we) see it as premature to issue a statement in this regard," the Taliban said in a statement on their website.

Officials said that bin Laden's body was washed and he was accorded full Islamic rites before being slipped into the Arabian Sea.

U.S. government figures said the burial at sea was motivated partly out of a desire to avoid any land-based grave site becoming a shrine to a man some supporters now consider a martyr.

A senior official said Monday that bin Laden was identified during a firefight in the compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.

Tech Helped Nab and Identify Osama bin Laden

After he was shot, U.S. intelligence professionals used sophisticated photo recognition techniques to identify bin Laden with 95 percent certainty.

A later DNA test proved to 99.9 percent level of certainty that the man found in the compound was indeed the Al-Qaeda kingpin, reviled in the United States, officials said.

Soldiers on the ground in the operation also said bin Laden was identified by other people who were in the compound at the time of the daring airborne attack.