Photos of dead Osama Bin Laden were captured with Olympus digital camera, according to book


posted Monday, September 24, 2012 at 2:14 PM EST


Remember those infamous death photos of Osama Bin Laden that were never released to the public? They were more than likely captured with an Olympus digital camera. That's what we learned while reading "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden," written by a former Navy SEAL.

In the book, which was penned under the pseudonym "Mark Owen," the author describes packing his gear before the raid on Bin Laden's compound. (At least one cable news station has revealed Owen's real name but we have chosen not to.)

"My camera, a digital Olympus point-and-shoot, was in my right shoulder pocket," Owen writes.

Later, when a man the SEALs believe might be Bin Laden is killed during the raid, Owen pulls out his camera and starts snapping pictures while another SEAL takes DNA samples.

"Tossing the blanket away, I pulled out the camera that I'd used to shoot hundreds of pictures over the last few years and started snapping photos. We'd all gotten real good taking these kinds of photos. We'd been playing CSI Afghanistan for years."

After the raid is completed and it's confirmed that it was, in fact, Bin Laden who was killed, Owen turns his images over to a CIA analyst to review.

"How are all the pics coming out so far?" I asked, handing over the camera.

"So far so good," he said.

As the images of Bin Ladens's body popped up on his screen, I was relieved. Since we had the body, the pictures weren't absolutely vital anymore. But I could imagine if I f*cked up the pictures, I would never hear the end [of] it from [fellow SEALs] Charlie and Walt."


Owen adds that he didn't know if the photos would ever be made public, but says he doesn't care: "That decision was well above my level and out of my control."

In the weeks that followed the killing of Osama Bin Laden, President Obama decided not to release the reportedly gruesome images, saying they might be "an incitement to additional violence" or could be used  "as a propaganda tool."

While Owen does not reveal that actual model of the "Olympus point-and-shoot" he used, he does indicate he had been shooting with it in Afghanistan for several years, so it's not likely a recent model. The fact that he calls it a "point-and-shoot" model also suggests that it's not a mirrorless, Micro Four Thirds camera with interchangeable lenses but more likely a small pocket camera.

We asked Olympus America about the type of camera used, and they replied that they didn't know, but that it was likely one of their Tough series, given the extremes of the environment.