WASHINGTON President Barack Obama has decided not to release photographs of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's body, the White House said Wednesday.
The announcement came after a senior administration official told NBC News of the decision not to release post-mortem photos and Obama revealed the decision during an interview Wednesday with CBS' "60 Minutes."
Death of Osama bin Laden
Bin Laden mission was big risk for Obama
Aides were using cell phones, officials tell NBC
NBC: Obama won't release bin Laden death photo
Terrorist's killing was legally justified, Holder says
Differing accounts emerge of bin Laden raid
'Geronimo': Code-name for US-led mission blasted
Obama to lay wreath at Ground Zero
breakingnews.com: Get the latest updates
The White House had been weighing the release of a photo, in part to offer proof that bin Laden was killed during a raid on his compound early Monday. However, officials had cautioned that the photo was gruesome and could prove inflammatory.
"It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool. That's not who we are. We dont trot out this stuff as trophies," Obama told CBS News, according to White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Bin Laden death photos? Stay away
"We don't need to spike the football. And I think that, given the graphic nature of these photos, it would create some national security risk," the president said, according to Carney's account.
Asked about his response to some people in Pakistan saying the United States was lying about having killed bin Laden, Obama said: "The truth is that we were monitoring worldwide reaction. There is no doubt that bin Laden is dead.
"Certainly there is no doubt among al-Qaida members that he is dead. And so we don't think that a photograph in and of itself will make a difference. There are going to be folks who will deny it."
Advertise | AdChoices
Carney said there would not be images released of bin Laden's burial at sea, either.
The president decided against making the images public after a spirited debate within government over the potential impact of their release.
Ever since word of bin Laden's death broke, the administration has tried to strike a balance between celebrating the success of the dramatic covert operation without unnecessarily offending sensitivities in the Muslim world. Officials stressed that Muslim traditions were followed before bin Laden's body was buried at sea, for example.
There was support for releasing the photos from both ends of the spectrum: Some family members of those who died in the 9-11 terror attacks thought it important to document bin Laden's death, as did some skeptics in the Arab world who doubted his demise in the absence of convincing evidence.
Story: Transcript of interview with CIA director Panetta
But the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican, said in advance of Obama's decision that he was concerned that the photographic images could be seen as a "trophy" that would inflame U.S. critics and makes it harder for members of the American military deployed overseas to do their job.
"Conspiracy theorists around the world will just claim the photos are doctored anyway," Rogers told CBS News, "and there is a real risk that releasing the photos will only serve to inflame public opinion in the Middle East."
Democratic House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said "there is no end served by releasing a picture of someone who has been killed. I think there is absolute proof that Osama bin Laden was in fact the person that was taken into custody... killed in the firefight."
The photos have been described by several sources as gruesome. One shows part of the skull blown off, those sources say. A U.S. official said one consideration is that the photo also shows exposed brain matter.
Sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the photo is still part of a classified investigation.
The president made his decision as the Navy SEALS involved in the daring raid in Pakistan arrived in the U.S. for debriefing, and U.S. officials began to comb through the intelligence trove of computer files, flash drives, DVDs and documents that the commandos hauled out of the terrorist's hideaway.
Bin Laden had about 500 euros sewn into his clothes when he was killed and had phone numbers on him when he was killed, U.S. officials said, a possible indication that bin Laden was ready to flee the compound on short notice.
The decision comes a day after CIA director Leon Panetta said that a photo proving the death of bin Laden "would be presented to the public," but the comment quickly drew a response from the White House saying no decision has yet been made.
Advertise | AdChoices
"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 in an interview with Nightly News.
Panetta said the photos leave no question that bin Laden was killed. "Obviously I've seen those photographs," he said. "We've analyzed them and there's no question that it's bin Laden."
PhotoBlog: Bin Laden 'death photo' a fake?
In July 2003, the U.S. took heat but also quieted most conspiracy theorists by releasing graphic photos of the corpses of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's two powerful sons to prove American forces had killed them.
So far, the U.S. has cited evidence that satisfied the Navy SEAL force, and at least most of the world, that they had the right man in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Story: DNA confirms bin Laden death
The helicopter-borne raiding squad that swarmed the luxury compound identified bin Laden by appearance. A woman in the compound who was identified as his wife was said to have called out bin Laden's name in the melee.
Officials produced a quick DNA match from his remains that they said established bin Laden's identity, even absent the other techniques, with 99.9 percent certainty. U.S. officials also said bin Laden was identified through photo comparisons and other methods.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
Do you agree with Obama's decision not to release bin Laden death photos? Discuss this story
Yes. The images could inflame and embolden our enemies, and no good purpose would be served by releasing them.
No. We're mature enough to handle such images, and withholding them gives more fuel to conspiracy theorists.
Maybe. I'd like to hear more about Obama's reasoning before I pass judgment.
Optional short answer(140 characters left)
Make your case! Keep it short and classy. Other users may flag anything less.
Photos: World reaction
Open in new window
1 of 69
A member of the radical group Islam Defenders Front walks past posters depicting Osama bin Laden and. President Barack Obama, during prayers for the al-Qaida leader at their headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, May 4. (Irwin Fedriansyah / AP) Share
Pakistani seminary students gather for an anti-U.S. rally in Quetta on May 4, against the killing of Osama bin Laden. Pakistan said the world must share the blame for failing to unearth Osama bin Laden as anger swelled over how the slain leader had managed to live undisturbed near Islamabad. (Banaras Khan / AFP - Getty Images) Share
An armed police officer stands guard outside the U.S. embassy in London, May 4. Security personnel in London remain vigilant following the death of al-Qaida's Osama bin Laden. (Matt Dunham / AP) Share
Members of Indonesia's Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) hold prayers for Osama bin Laden in Jakarta May 4. Indonesian Islamists hailed bin Laden as a martyr on Wednesday, illustrating sympathy for the al-Qaida leader among Southeast Asian militant groups. (Beawiharta / Reuters) Share
People shout slogans during a protest against the U.S. military raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden in Multan, Pakistan, May 4. (MK Chaudhry / EPA) Share
Soldiers and police officers patrol in the Nice-Cote d'Azur airport, in Nice, France, May 4, as security remained vigilant following the death of Osaam bin Laden. (Lionel Cironneau / AP) Share
Activists from the Anti Terrorist Front hold placards and shout pro-U.S, President Barak Obama slogans during a demonstration in New Delhi on May 3. (Raveendran / AFP - Getty Images) Share
Supporters of the banned Islamic organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa shout anti-American slogans before a symbolic funeral prayer for Osama bin Laden in Karachi, May 3. The founder one of Pakistan's most violent Islamist militant groups has told Muslims to be heartened by the death of Osama bin Laden, as his "martyrdom" would not be in vain, a spokesman for the group said on Tuesday. (Athar Hussain / Reuters) Share
Supporters of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, an Islamic charity organization widely reported to be linked with the banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, offer funeral prayers for Osama bin Laden, in Karachi, Pakistan, May 3. (Rehan Khan / EPA) Share
Palestinians protest against the killing of the al-Qaida leader in the Gaza Strip on May 3. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which governs Gaza, condemned the killing by U.S. forces of bin Laden and mourned him as an 'Arab holy warrior'. (Ali Ali / EPA) Share
Hundreds of Muslims offer special prayers for Osama bin Laden in Hyderabad, India, May 3. (Mahesh Kumar A / AP) Share
A special issue of the magazine, Time, on the death of Osama bin Laden, will hit newsstands on Thursday, May 5. The cover show a red X over bin Ladens face, and the magazine says it is the fourth cover in Times history to feature the red X. Other covers showed Adolf Hilter on May 7, 1945, Saddam Hussein on April 21, 2003, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on June 19, 2006. (Time via AP) Share
People read the newspapers with cover stories of Osama bin Laden, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 3. (Mohammed Mashhor / Reuters) Share
Image: An activist of Jamaat-ud-Dawa weeps during a funeral prayer for Osama bin Laden on a street in Karachi
Related interactive Photoblog: Banned group offers prayers for bin Laden
Supporters of the banned Islamic organization Jamaat-ud-Dawa embrace each other after taking part in a funeral prayer for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Karachi May 3. The founder one of Pakistan's most violent Islamist militant groups has told Muslims to be heartened by the death of Osama bin Laden, as his "martyrdom" would not be in vain, a spokesman for the group said on Tuesday. (Athar Hussain / Reuters) Share
A member of an elite Filipino police anti-terrorist unit stands guard in front of the US embassy in Manila, the Philippines on May 3. (Francis R. Malasig / EPA) Share
Related video The world responds to bin Laden's death
A vendor sells newspapers detailing the death of Osama bin Laden in Kabul, Afghanistan on May 3. (Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images) Share
Members of the All India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) hold placards in New Delhi, India on May 3 during a rally celebrating the killing of Osama bin Laden. (Adnan Abidi / Reuters) Share
Related video Rice: 'Surprised' where bin Laden was found
Kristina Hollywood and her daughter Allyson attend a candlelight vigil for 9/11 victims at a memorial site following the death of Osama bin Laden in East Meadow, New York on May 2. (Daniel Barry / Getty Images) Share
Related video Bin Laden was malignancy, 9/11 widower says
University of New Mexico Senior Wes Henderson waves an American Flag during a rally in Albuquerque, NM, organized by a group of students on Monday to honor the troops after the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. (Adolphe Pierre-louis / Zuma Press) Share
Visitors, on Monday, look over the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa., following the announcement that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan a day earlier. Nearly 10 years after Sept. 11, 2001 construction is underway to erect a formal memorial at the crash site. (Jeff Swensen / Getty Images) Share
Danielle and Carie LeMack and Christie Coombs, who lost relatives on 9-11, pause during a ceremony to honor the victims, Monday, May 2 at the Garden of Remembrance in Boston, Mass. Families of local victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks gathered at the 9/11 memorial to reflect upon the death of Osama Bin Laden. (Darren McCollester / Getty Images) Share
U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, Sunday, May 1. Also pictured are Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. (The White House / Reuters) Share
Related video Inside the Situation Room: 'We got him'
Related video Mission accomplished: The end of bin Laden
In this handout image provided by The White House, President Barack Obama shakes hands with Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the Green Room of the White House, following his statement detailing the mission against Osama bin Laden, Sunday in Washington, DC. (The White House / Getty Images) Share
Part of a damaged helicopter is seen lying near the compound where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan on Sunday, May 1. (DOD via Reuters) Share
(Left image) Middle school teacher Gary Weddle with his beard photographed minutes before he shaves off the beard at his East Wenatchee, Wash., home on Sunday, May 1, 2011. (Right image) Weddle displays his cut beard while shaving the remaining stubble. Weddle completed a vow made nearly 10 years ago not to shave until Osama bin Laden was caught or proven killed. (Donita Weddle / The Wenatchee World, Capital Press via AP) Share
People look out at Ground Zero a day after the death of Osama Bin Laden on Monday, May 2 in New York City. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Share
World Trade Center construction workers listen as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speak about Osama bin Laden at the World Trade Center site in New York on Monday, May 2. (Brendan McDermid / Reuters) Share
Los Angeles Airport Police patrol the Tom Bradley terminal at Los Angeles International Aiport on May 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, Calif. Security presence has been escalated at airports, train stations and public places after the killing of Osama Bin Laden by the United States in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images) Share
Related video Americans celebrate triumph over bin Laden
Carroll Fisher, of Auburn, Wash., a retired member of the US Air Force, waves a flag at passing cars as he stands on the "Freedom Bridge" just outside Joint Base Lewis-McChord on May 2, near Tacoma, Wash., the day after President Barack Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. (Ted S. Warren / AP) Share
Related video Bin Laden loyalists are myth building
Angry supporters of Pakistani religious party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam burn a representation of the United States during a rally to condemn the killing of Osama bin Laden in Quetta, Pakistan on Monday. (Arshad Butt / AP) Share
Related video Relief, anger flood the Arab world
Afghan men working at a TV shop hug while watching the news of the death Osama bin Laden, May 2, in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Paula Bronstein / Getty Images) Share
Related video Travel warnings issued for Americans
A screen grab from the FBI's Most Wanted website, taken May 2, shows the status of Osama bin Laden as deceased. The al-Qaida leader was killed in a U.S. raid on a mansion near the Pakistani capital Islamabad early on Monday, officials said. (fbi.gov via Reuters) Share
Joyce and Russell Mercer, parents of New York Firefighter Scott Mercer who lost his life on 9/11, sit before a news conference concerning the death of Osama Bin Laden at the law offices of Norman Siegel on Monday in New York City. (Daniel Barry / Getty Images) Share
Related video Retaliation possible over bin Laden's death?
An armored Park Police vehicle is parked at the base of the Washington Monument, May 2, in Washington, DC. The DC area and other places around the nation have stepped up security after it was announced that Osama bin Laden was killed in a firefight with U. S. forces in Pakistan. (Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images) Share
Related video Bin Laden and the global war on terror
A man selling carpets reads a newspaper reporting the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2 in Quetta, Pakistan. (Reuters) Share
Related video Engel: burial at sea unusual
Jim Schweizer, assistant to the director of Fort Snelling National Cemetery, straightens flowers at the grave of Thomas Burnett, May 2, in Bloomington, Minn. Burnett died on Sept, 11, 2001 along with 39 other passengers and crew when Flight 93 was hijacked and crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa. Osama bin Laden, the face of global terrorism and architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, was killed in a firefight with elite American forces in Pakistan on Monday, and then quickly buried at sea in a stunning finale to a furtive decade on the run. (Richard Sennott / AP) Share
Related video Graphics of bin Laden's compound released
This aerial photo, released May 2, 2011 by the Pentagon, shows a view of the compound in Abbottbad, Pakistan where a U. S. military operation was conducted and Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden was killed on May 1. (AFP - Getty Images) Share
Ashley Gilligan reflects on the death of Osama bin Laden at NBC Studios in New York on Monday. Gilligan lost her father, Ronald Gilligan, in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com) Share
Related video 'Never be OK,' daughter says of Dad's 9/11 death
Related video Obama: 'A good day for America'
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the death of Osama Bin Laden prior to posthumously awarding Private First Class Anthony Kaho'ohanohano, U.S. Army, and Private First Class Henry Svehla, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry, in the East Room of the White House in Washington on May 2. (Shawn Thew / EPA) Share
Andrea Masano visits the memorial to Massachusetts victims of the attacks of 9/11 in Boston, Mass. on Monday. (Brian Snyder / Reuters) Share
Women read an extra edition of a Japanese newspaper in Tokyo, May 2, reporting the death of Osama bin Laden. (Shizuo Kambayashi / AP) Share
Kristen Grazioso, 14, places balloons on a carved stone Monday in Middletown, N.J., that honors her father, who was killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center. There are 37 stones in the garden representing those from Middletown who died in the attack. (Mel Evans / AP) Share
Related interactive Newspapers react to bin Laden
A vendor arranges newspapers at his stall in Bhopal, India on Monday. (Sanjeev Gupta / EPA) Share
Related video 9/11 victims mom: Bin Ladens hunters nailed it
Tara Henwood Butzbaugh shows a photo of her family at the World Trade Center site in New York on Monday. Her brother was killed in the 9/11 attack. (Andrew Kelly / Reuters) Share
Image: U.S. Steps Up Security As Precaution After Bin Laden's Death
Related interactive Security heightened following bin Laden's death
A Transportation Security Administration agent checks the luggage of a passenger on May 2 at the Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Fla. Security in airports and train stations has been increased in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden. (Stan Honda / AFP - Getty Images) Share
Marine Staff Sgt. Mark Gamache pays respects to victims of the 9/11 terrorists attacks, at the 911 Pentagon Memorial on May 2 in Arlington, Va. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images) Share
Jeff Ray of Shanksville, Pa., visits the temporary memorial to United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa., Monday, May 2. (Gene J. Puskar / AP) Share
Supporters of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden shout anti-American slogans, after the news of his death, during a rally in Quetta on Monday. (Reuters) Share
New York City police officers with Operation Hercules arrive at the Armed Forces recruitment center in New York's Times Square on Monday. (Mary Altaffer / AP) Share
Related video NYPD prepares for possible retaliation
Related video 9/11 victims kin: Bin Laden will be judged by God
Dionne Layne, right, hugs Mary Power in reacton to the news of the death of Osama bin Laden on Monday in New York. At left is 1 World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, which is currently under construction. (Mark Lennihan / AP) Share
Related video Details on US raid that killed bin Laden
Pakistan army soldiers stand guard near the compound where it is believed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden lived in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on Monday. (Anjum Naveed / AP) Share
Students look towards the compound where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed from a nearby madrasa in Abbottabad on Monday. (Faisal Mahmood / Reuters) Share
Dan Parker of Shamokin, Pa., holds a U.S. flag outside the White House in Washington, D.C. on Monday after learning of Osama bin Laden's death. (Kevin Lamarque / Reuters) Share
People buy newspapers reporting the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden at local newspaper printing press in Karachi, Pakistan on Monday. (Shakil Adil / AP) Share
Related video Will U.S. jubilation spark rage in the Arab world?
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, center, is flanked by vice presidents Mohammad Qasim Fahim, left, and Mohammed Karim Khalili, right, as he addresses the media at the presidential palace in Kabul on Monday. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that the killing of Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan proved Kabul's long-standing position that the war on terror was not rooted in Afghanistan. (Shah Marai / AFP - Getty Images) Share
People shout slogans while holding placards and photographs of Osama bin Laden as they celebrate his killing in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad on Monday. (Amit Dave / Reuters) Share
People react to the death of Osama bin Laden in Times Square, New York City, early Monday. (Eric Thayer / Reuters) Share
University of Texas at Austin students celebrate the news of Osama bin Ladens death at Cain & Abels bar late Sunday night. (Erika Rich / Daily Texan via AP) Share
People light candles in the streets at Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center, in response to the death of Osama bin Laden on Sunday night, May 1, in New York City. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Share
Related video Giuliani on bin Laden: Satisfied but not elated
A driver and passengers celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden in the streets of Lawrence, Kan., on Sunday. President Barack Obama announced Sunday night, May 1, that Osama bin Laden was killed in an operation led by the United States. (Orlin Wagner / AP) Share
Arab-Americans celebrate the news of the death of Osama bin Laden in Dearborn, Mich., early Monday, May 2. (Carlos Osorio / AP) Share
Related video Americans rejoice over death of bin Laden
Crowds gather at ground zero in New York early Monday, shortly after President Obama announced that a U.S. military operation had killed Osama bin Laden in a firefight at a large mansion in Pakistan. (Justin Lane / EPA) Share
People cheer and wave flags on the "Freedom Bridge" just outside Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Sunday near Tacoma, Wash., after they heard the news of bin Laden's death. (Ted S. Warren / AP) Share
David Huber and Nicole Lozare of Arlington, Va., pay their respect to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the Pentagon Memorial early Monday morning, after President Obama announced bin Laden's death. A special forces-led operation killed the al-Qaida leader in a mansion outside Islamabad in Pakistan. (Alex Wong / Getty Images) Share
Crowds gather at ground zero in New York on Monday. (Justin Lane / EPA) Share
U.S. Marines of Regiment Combat Team 1 watch TV at Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on Monday as President Obama announces the death of Osama bin Laden. Obama said late Sunday U.S. time that justice had been done after the September 11, 2001, attacks, but warned that al-Qaida will still try to attack the U.S. (Bay Ismoyo / AFP - Getty Images) Share
People celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden in Times Square in New York City on Sunday night. (Pantaleo-Taamallah / Abaca) Share
Related video Bin Ladens burial at sea unusual
A crowd outside the White House in Washington cheers on Sunday upon hearing the news that terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is dead. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP) Share
President Barack Obama announces that Osama bin Laden has been killed during a televised address on Sunday, May 1, 2011. (NBC News) Share
Pakistani security officials arrive at the hideout house Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on Wednesday, May 4. (Aamir Qureshi / AFP - Getty Images) Share
Posted on May 4, 2011, 1:39 PM from IP address 184.108.40.206