September 10th, 2012
11:07 AM ET

I didn't recognize bin Laden, SEAL who wrote 'No Easy Day' says

The new book "No Easy Day" by former U.S. Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, who wrote under the name Mark Owen, gained widespread attention because of his firsthand account of how he and other members of SEAL Team Six killed Osama bin Laden.

On Sunday night, Bissonnette shared more of the intimate details of the mission in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes."

Bissonnette wore heavy makeup and his voice was disguised as he described what he said was not just a "kill-only" mission, but a chance to capture the mastermind of the September 11 attacks alive, if possible.

FIRST ON CNN: Pentagon double checked actions of SEALs during bin Laden raid

"We weren't sent in to murder him. This was, 'Hey, kill or capture,'" he told interviewer Scott Pelley.  Bissonnette said that in the weeks leading up to the mission, the SEALs trained on a full-size model of the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where they would eventually kill bin Laden. It was rare, Bissonnette said, to get 100 chances to train on a mock-up like that for three weeks.

Bissonnette said that while it was the most important mission he would ever be a part of, much of what the team members did was routine, until the moment they could finally exhale, knowing they had killed their biggest target.

Below are some of the most interesting exchanges between Bissonnette and Pelley, according to CBS transcripts, about the preparation for the mission, the raid itself and his reaction to it all when it was finally over.

On how they cleared the house as they hunted for bin Laden after taking early fire:

Matt Bissonnette: Guys start making their way up the stairs. And it's quiet. It's pitch black in the house. No lights. All night vision. Get to the second floor. Intel had said, "Hey, we think that Khalid, his son, lives on the second floor."

Scott Pelley: This is Osama bin Laden's son?

Bissonnette: Yeah. The guy in front of me who is point man, he sees the head pop out and disappear really quick around the corner. He's like, "OK, you know, what - who is it? What do you think?" "Yeah, I don't know." He literally whispers, not amped up, not yelling, not anything. He whispers, "Hey, Khalid. Khalid." He whispers Khalid's name. Doesn't know if it's Khalid or not. Khalid literally looks back around the edge of the hall. And he shoots him. What was Khalid thinking at that time? Look around the corner. Curiosity killed the cat. I guess Khalid too.

Pelley: Somebody started shooting at you from inside the house? And the bullets were coming through the door?

Bissonnette: Yep. Immediately, my buddy who was standing up started returning fire. I could - yeah, I kind of rolled away from the door, blindly returned fire back through. You couldn't see what was on the other side. And then it went quiet. Thankfully, the SEAL that was there with me, that initially returned fire with me spoke Arabic. So he immediately started calling out to the people inside. Started hearing the metal latch on the inside of the door. Are they gonna come out with a suicide vest? Are they gonna throw a hand grenade out? Are they gonna, you know, spray their AK? Door opens up, a female holding a kid, couple kids right behind her.

Pelley: You got your finger on your trigger and you're looking at a woman with her children?

Bissonnette: Yeah, yeah. Split second. I mean, we had just received fire. My buddy's speaking Arabic. And he's asking her, you know, "Hey, where's your husband? What's going on?" She - and - and she replies back to him, "He's dead. You shot him."

On how they killed bin Laden,  but weren't sure it was him:

Pelley: Khalid is dead on this landing. The point man is stepping past Khalid. And now, you're No. 2 in the stack. You're right behind the point man?

Bissonnette: Yep. I'm kinda trying to look around him. Hear him take a couple shots. Kind of see a head - somebody disappear back into the room.

Pelley: The point man had seen someone stick his head out a door and shot him just the way he'd shot Khalid.

Bissonnette:  Yup.

Pelley: What did you do then?

Bissonnette:  Inside the room, I could see a body laying on the ground. Over him was two females, real close to the door. They looked up and saw the point man. He steps into the room, literally rushes the two women, grabs one under each arm, and pushes them back against the far wall. So if they did have a suicide vest on, and they did blow themselves up, that they wouldn't - that wouldn't affect the rest of the guys.

Pelley: But it would have killed him?

Bissonnette: Yeah.

Pelley: You stepped into the room and saw the man lying on the floor? What did you do?

Navy Seals: A battle for the conscience

Bissonnette: Myself and the next assaulter in, we both engaged him several more times and then rolled off and then continued clearing the room.

Pelley:  When you say you engaged him, what do you mean?

Bissonnette: Fired.

Pelley: You shot him?

Bissonnette: Yeah.

Pelley: He's still moving?

Bissonnette: A little bit. But you couldn't see his arms. Couldn't see his hands. So, he could've had something. Could've had a hand grenade or something underneath his chest.

Pelley: So, after Osama bin Laden is wounded, he's still moving. You shot him twice?

Bissonnette: A handful of times.

Pelley: A handful of times, and the SEAL in the stack behind you also shot Osama bin Laden. And at that point, his body was still?

Bissonnette:: Yes.

Pelley: Did you recognize him?

Bissonnette: Nope. You know, everybody thinks it was, like, you know it's him. No. To us, at that time, it could have been anybody. Maybe this was another brother. Maybe this is a bodyguard. Maybe, it doesn't matter. The point is to just continue clearing.

On how they initially confirmed they had just killed bin Laden:

Bissonnette: So he moved out to where the women and kids were, grabs one of the younger kids. Says, "Hey, who is that inside?" She says, "Osama." "Osama who?" "Osama bin Laden."

Pelley: The child?

Bissonnette: The child.

Pelley:  Identified him?

Bissonnette: Yep. Grabbed one of the females, again asked her, "Hey, who is that?" She said, "Osama bin Laden."

Pelley: Does a cheer go up among the SEALs? You start shaking hands? Patting each other on the back?

Bissonnette: Not - nothing. It's all business. We're on the clock here. So, we call up the commanding officer. He comes upstairs. Looks at the body. We give him what we have so far of - hey, here's what he looks like, take a look. He's tall. Woman and kid confirm it. He took one look. He said, "OK, I think that's him."

On what Bissonnette made of bin Laden not making a final stand:

Bissonnette: And some people would argue that, you know, why did that point man take those shots? Well, immediately, the first door we went to, my team was engaged by enemy fire through the door. So automatically, we know we're going into an enemy compound, shots being fired back at us immediately. AK found next to Khalid on the stairs. All those boxes have been checked that if a guy sticks his head around the corner, he very easily could have a gun. You don't wait to get that AK or the grenade thrown down the hall or the suicide vest. So in the split second, that's when he engaged.

Pelley: He did have a gun. But he didn't use it. And I wonder what you make of that?

Bissonnette: I think in the end, he taught a lot of people to do - you know, martyr themselves and he masterminded the 9/11 attacks. But in the end, he wasn't even willing to roger up himself with a gun and put up a fight. So I think that speaks for itself.

On how he saw the news announced to the world - and then modestly celebrated

Bissonnette: Yeah, we watched it live. It was - they had some TVs set up in the hangar that we were at. And, literally still in your camouflage uniform, our gear kind of set to the side, and we heard it was coming on. We went and gathered around and watched the address.

Pelley:  What did you think?

Bissonnette: Now the world knows that we've got him.

Pelley:  When you landed back in the United States, what did you think of all the media coverage?

Bissonnette: It was all surreal because, you know, this had all been so hush-hush leading up to it. We went and did it. And now it was the biggest news story ever. We got on a bus. They drove us back to work. I didn't even go in. They told us we had a couple days off. And I grabbed my keys, went and got in my truck and, you know, I put it in the book. But, you know, I hit Taco Bell on the way home, hit the drive-through, a couple tacos. And, you know, ate it in my car right there and then drove home.

Pelley:  You were part of the team that killed Osama bin Laden and the first thing you do when you get back to the United States is go to Taco Bell?

Bissonnette: Two tacos and a bean burrito. It's routine.

Read more about the book, the debate over it being published and the bin Laden raid:

SEAL's Osama bin Laden book sheds light on Ambien use in military

Pentagon: SEAL's book has classified info, didn't follow protocol

Former SEAL worried about new book

Excerpts from SEAL's book about Osama bin Laden killing

soundoff (634 Responses)
  1. Ivanhoe

    Read the novels - more revealing based on direct experiences in the Middle East and featuring exotic Arabic erotica - king of Bat'ha by Hashim, and ---–Tales from the East: Return of Ivanhoe by Ivanhoe

    September 11, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chief

    Well, I am sorry. I tried very hard to read all of these comments but I just couldn't cus I can see that I don't have enough branes ;-> to even come close to all the very smart folks who know how to be the most critical of each other and especially this Seal who even knows how to write. All I can think of is my appreciation for all of the Military and brave citizen responders over time who have faced down a bunch of stuff that has and could again hurt these United States and the people in the U.S. Who says we are a proud nation, even some of those too smart people who do nothing but complain and criticize.
    God Bless all of ya and keep you safe. Happy and Thankful 9-11

    September 12, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. Motoman

    Bissonnette is an embarrassment. He dropped out of the military, wrote a book and gamed the system. What else is a guy with his talent going to do after being discharged, be a mall cop?
    He'll be on dancing with the stars in no time. After that he'll just drift back into obscurity.

    September 12, 2012 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
  4. question

    I thought team Navy Seal 6 was shot down a few weeks later in another operation? Or was I once again misinformed?

    September 12, 2012 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      SEAL Team Six has multiple platoons. One Platoon was shot down several months later, but it was not the platoon that executed the Bin Laden mission.

      September 12, 2012 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. Bleeding Ears

    I think Bin Laden heard this guy say "like" and "you know" so many times he shot himself to death!

    September 12, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Schmedley

      He's a soldier, not a professional speaker wise guy...

      September 12, 2012 at 2:59 am | Report abuse |
    • doka3

      Job well done, soldier

      September 12, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  6. vahellbilly

    I didn't recognize bin Laden, SEAL who wrote 'No Easy Day' says.... Neither did his Momma after that 7.62 chin-shot.

    September 12, 2012 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      5.56 actually....just sayin'

      September 12, 2012 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Alf

      Probably 6.8..just sayin

      September 12, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  7. peace

    "capture or kill" ... and he brags about killing someone he didn't know was the target? what an idiot. he should be prosecuted for murder or for being an idiot. When you take a life (even justified), one should be remorseful–not anxious to eat tacos. We in the USA are 'growing' desensitized children that grow up and enjoy killing. We should not be surprised at our mass murder headlines nor at the growing hated for us throughout the spiritual world.

    September 12, 2012 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Schmedley

      like you're an expert... I have absolutely no problem with OBL getting whacked and I have no remorse or ill feeling about those guys doing it. Much better people have died for far worse reasons. OBL got whacked and he got what he deserved.

      September 12, 2012 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Danno

      Prosecuted for murder? Let's see, they took enemy fire, killed Khalid on the stair with an AK47 at his side, see another man poke his head around the door and then took a shot. Sounds like textbook perfect work. Not sure how else you would play it. You're naivety is incredible.

      September 12, 2012 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Colorado Guy

      lDear Peace, you seem to be ignoring the reality that in war peace is possible only if the enemy is destroyed or you are destroyed. Incapacitating the enemy is preferred, if possible, but that is a battlefield decision made under conditions that require split-second decisions to save your life or your comrades life. Replaying it from the vantage point of an armchair is not reality. Give these men credit for risking their lives and accomplishing the mission without further loss of life.

      September 12, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Armada

      Prosecuted? You are uneducated at best. It is cowards like you that benefit most from what our military does all in order to protect your right to type out your idiotic comments.

      That Seal and the rest of his team were on orders and have more courage and discipline than you can even comprehend, more less possess.

      Go back to your Starbucks and Micheal Moore books...

      September 12, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Hey Peace – why don't you use your real name? Or are you one of these babies that like to hide behind a keyboard and run your mouth? And before you try and come back with some smart comment – I have honorably served in the military for over 20 years (and still going strong). I have left my family on numerous deployments. Been fired at, had mortars lobbed in at my FOB. And when you are on a mission and someone actively engages you, your SOP is to return fire. So sit back and troll the articles some more, write pathetic statements about what you think should happen to these guys and have a great day full of FREEDOM. Oh yeah, the FREEDOM that we – men and women in all branches of the service – provide to you and all your family members.

      September 12, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Colonel Angus, father of peace

      All we are saying, is give "peace" a chance. Thanks to our soldiers, people like "peace" can spout of nonsense. I'd like to meet "peace" and give him a boot from behind. Let's see if he will react so "peace"-fully. And yes, I would have a Taco after giving "peace" a chance.

      September 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. sigmond seamonster

    So in other words, release this information right before the election, to incite violence and retaliation to American and Israeli interests in the Middle East, blame it on Iran and Syria, topple those two countries as well, insert UN and IMF to restore order in the countries by Iran and Syria borrowing money to do so, insert a puppet Government, bring in American Corporations that help prop up the new Government, pay back the IMF with money from the same Corporations involved in IMF and Global Banking System, and double your MONEY.

    September 12, 2012 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. lezl

    i think the mans still alive but obama takes credit just to be reelected this is the 5th diffrent story i heard one moment the body is to mutilated then the next is a couple of precision shots atleast bush had saddam huesein captured and we all saw him on tv in fact theres footage of his hanging c-mon obama we want a body to confirm the death until then i will always doubt seal team 6 he was dumped off a navy vessel with more then 1200 crew members and sailers and we have no photos but 12 witness to hussains death capture 3 vids multiple pics to id and confirm the subject hung america wake up we should all demand confirmation this was our country and we desserve it not some word of mouth non factual evidence we all need to demand this for the victom 911 we will always remember god bless america

    September 12, 2012 at 3:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      Seriously? You think Osama would just sit back and keep his mouth shut while America and Obama celebrated his death? He would make it known he is still alive. Think about it.

      September 12, 2012 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Zeta

      That is the longest run on sentence I've ever seen... And completely incorrect. Jeff is right, if Osama was still alive, he'd make it very well known.

      September 12, 2012 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. Donald in CA

    I dont give a crap about this guy. He sold out for the money. Go join wiki leaks.

    September 12, 2012 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
    • kathy martin

      very well said-quit giving this guy attention...

      September 12, 2012 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. abby1

    This guy is a traitor and opportunist.

    September 12, 2012 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  12. Pinebelt Bob

    Thank you for what you and the others did. Now be quiet. And stay alert because someone is probably shadowing your butt right now.

    September 12, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Tommy Boy

      Probably? You can count on it, sir.

      USN (ret)

      September 12, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jim in PA

    My god, this interviewer is an imbecile. "Did you guys start cheering? Patting each other on the back?" Yeah, genius. They started cheering and popping champagne bottles in the middle of an attack, not knowing who else was in the house, and knowing that they were deep inside Pakistan with only minutes to get back out. Good lord, what ever happened to intelligent journalists? He may as well have asked "So, what catch phrase did you say after you shot him?"

    September 12, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jim in PA

    Any real engineer clearly understands that the buildings fell from the top due to the heat-weakened steel. There was no controlled demo and no conspiracy. And yes, I have several friends who are structural engineers, so I don't have to rely on BS conspiracy theory websites.

    September 12, 2012 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. Tommy Boy

    To all of you who feel that Mr. Bissennette should keep quiet, I agree 100%. It was drilled into our heads from day one: Loose Lips Sink Ships. However, don't pretend that you have the slightest idea what a high-profile covert raid is like, and don't you dare disrespect the courage, commitment and training that stands behind our trident.

    USN (ret)

    September 12, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
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