Obama won't release bin Laden photos, cites risks

WASHINGTON Wed May 4, 2011 3:18pm EDT

President Barack Obama bows his head during the invocation of a ceremony held to posthumously award Private First Class Anthony T. Kaho'ohanohano, U.S. Army, and Private First Class Henry Svehla, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry at the White House in Washington May 2, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Barack Obama bows his head during the invocation of a ceremony held to posthumously award Private First Class Anthony T. Kaho'ohanohano, U.S. Army, and Private First Class Henry Svehla, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry at the White House in Washington May 2, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said in a television interview on Wednesday he decided not to release photos of Osama bin Laden's body because it could incite violence and be used as an al Qaeda propaganda tool.

"We've done DNA sampling and testing and so there was no doubt we had killed Osama bin Laden," Obama told CBS's "60 Minutes" program, according to an excerpt released by the White House. "The fact is you will not see bin Laden walking on this Earth again."

The Obama administration had been wrestling with whether to release photos of a dead bin Laden, who was killed in a U.S. raid on his Pakistani compound on Monday, and the president said he and his advisers agreed the images should not be made public.

"It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of someone who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool," Obama said. "That's not who we are. We don't trot out this stuff as trophies."

Obama's press secretary, Jay Carney, read out a portion of the interview that will air on Sunday.

"The fact is this was someone who was deserving of the justice he received," said Obama. "But 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 risks."

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 Qaeda 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."

(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Doina Chiacu)