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. Bob in NYC

    Just finished the book last night. Both brought tears to my eyes: The bullet in UBL's head and $65,000 for the night vision goggles. Thank God Teddy ditched the way he did. Biden is the "drunken uncle" at the Christmas Party.... Did the team get that beer at the residence?
    Why does everyone call it Seal Team 6? I know the history, I read the wiki, I guess it just sounds better.

    September 12, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  2. Equality

    Sounds like this guy is just a glory hound, trying to reap cash rewards while showing intimate details of a top secret mission......what a joke.....the Point Man is the real American hero in all this, this guy is just stealing his thunder........shoots OBL when he's already practically dead and writes a book about it......ha!

    September 12, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. DIng Dong

    Turns out the beard was a hook on beard, which he left on the nightstand upon being woke up suddenly. In actuality he looked like Jeff Goldblum.

    September 12, 2012 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. James

    Complete and utter fiction.

    This book is obviously written to focus attention on Obama's one "accomplishment" just in time for the elections. It is propaganda, pure and simple.

    Peewee Herman lliterally had as much to do with the Death of Osama Bin Laden as Obama did.

    Item of interest: Even the ONE supposed accomplishment in Obama's presidency is FAKE.

    September 12, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. NOLAManBlog

    Most dam ning evidence that it was not Osama bin Laden:

    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.

    September 12, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. Tigrr

    Military should be more concerned about this....
    see youtube - CIA Asset Susan Lindauer Can Now Speak 10 years after 9-11.
    Yeah, the Bush WH did it. Troops exposed to depleted uranium. NYers contaminated by thermite nukes. The Silverstein connection. And more.
    Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

    September 12, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • vj

      You are part of the intelligent minority. Osama obviously wasnt killed in 2011, and arabs with boxcutters obviously didnt take over four planes on 9/11. And Building 7 obviously didnt freefall into its own footprint from some ambient smoke. Wake up people. RIP to the 30+ seal members who all died in a CHINOOK crash a month later. What a coincidence huh?

      September 12, 2012 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tigrr

    Actually Osama died of kidney failure in 2001....which the Bush WH knew, and perpetuated lies for wars. See any meds or dyalisis machines in the house? No.
    See Veterans Today for more info. Likely another staged event to manipulate Americans for some other purpose.

    September 12, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Correct. But you have the year wrong. It was 2006. He died of kidney failure and cancer.
      Not too many people in the Middle East knew this after it happened, though.
      The man they killed was bin Laden's brother, who he asked to take over for him and literally take his place to keep young warriors coming.
      The Obama administration didn't know this. At least, most didn't know.
      They thought they actually found and killed bin Laden.
      Good point about the meds/dialysis machine.

      September 12, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • c

      Uh-so shy did Bissionette say they identified bin Laden-jeesz louise

      September 12, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • ConspiracyTheoristIdocy

      I think it's AMAZING that YOU,.. YOU!! .. have all this knowledge about what really was going on all this time, and 99.9% of the world is actually in the dark...

      and more to the reply by "Joe" - How is it YOU can know that Bin Laden was killed in 2006, yet the entire Obama Administration didn't? You must be high up in the nefarious secret covert govt world to have this knowledge - why did you keep it from us all?!?!?

      September 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • drny

      Prove it or shut it!

      September 12, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RBI GUY

    One love, SEAL!

    September 12, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. dajowi

    So he didn't recognize him. I just bumped into a guy I worked with for 18 years and he didn't recognize me...and I was only wearing a different hat.

    September 12, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. Fat Bissonnette

    A SEAL operative that can't "recognize the target"?! That's a huge problem.
    A loose cannon like Bissonnette that can't recognize a face is a recipe for mission failure. Luckily this was not a rescue misson...

    September 12, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. Harald Graham

    I dont understand the lack of professionalism with this seal, to unwrap and expose this mission for profit is disgusting.
    Seems everyone wants a book deal in hope of easy money. What's the real cost of selling out your team mates, service, and country? We don't need purchased details of a secret mission, do your job and be loyal. I appreciate this seals service to our great country, but can't shake the fact that he has a “pen name” and goes on TV in disguise, for what? A few Dollars?
    Loyalty is running thin, from sports (the rats in cycling) to military operations. Honor the code and keep silent.

    September 12, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      I agree with Harald's post. Shame on the Navy Seal to publicize the details of this secret mission. He should be sent to jail.

      September 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. semper fi

    He may not have recognized Bin Laden but every Extremist knows what this trader looks like.

    September 12, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. C

    That is because it wasn't him....no photo, no proof, no body.

    September 12, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tommy Boy

      Okay, C.....I guess you're telling me there's no God, either.

      September 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jane

      Are you folks crazy, he was identified thru DNA.

      September 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Johnny 5

    Any rational person would know that Osama wasnt the victim that day. Bissonnette is clearly hinting at this by his statement. Don't be shocked if he turns up missing now. The truth is slowly being let out of the bag and the result isn't going to be good.

    September 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sixteen 81

    Thanks Seals. Keep killing/capturing.
    Every officer in the Pentagon or deployed will receive the Bronze Star for reading this article.

    September 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
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