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. Brian

    How can you criticize this man without actually having read the book? The book is a great read. The author mentions that he decided to write this book because of all the wrong information being put out by White House and other government leaks. Additionally, he makes it known that the majority of profits from this book are going to charities, including the one for KIA SEALs. If our society is going to continue to exist and thrive, we have to stop simply taking the news headline and running with it. Do some research, read a book for yourself and make your own judgement instead of repeating what the media is feeding you.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • allens

      i read the book it was a grat read. now arrest and try him for treason. he had no business writting the book without permission. it is tme to enforce a very important law. this must end, it is the law and for the good of the country

      September 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      What law exactly did he break? I don't know about you, but I didn't see anything that even remotely struck me as classified information. People write books about key historical events all the time. Just because the Pentagon (which can be overly political at time) threatened this guy in the news, until they actually bring some action against him I give him the benefit of the doubt.

      September 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • giz

      The SEAL broke a code of silence to write this book and he is gaining nothing from it, but danger, and partisan ire. My understanding is that he was so unhappy with the President's political motives for leaking parts of the secret mission, that he felt it his duty to set the record straight. I salute him and I hope that future presidents are able to earn the trust of our military, as this President obviously hasn't.

      September 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. smdahl

    This whole thing stinks to high heaven. The Obama admin needs to keep this false story in the news to get re-elected, but they have to be careful because they are intentionally leaking information they claim to be classified. How much more baloney are we willing to swallow? Where is the proof of ANY PART of this story/"mission"?

    September 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fingers tapping

      So, you're saying that this exSeal is working for Obama's misinformation campaign?? After we heard from other seals that they are not exactly politically in line with Obama? But that they went and finished the job anyway, as they should when the commander in chief calls. So they did. Good.
      But you're still saying this seal's account is part of Obama disinformation? You're messing with the brains of CIA, KGB, Mossad, MI6 and then some, Sir.

      September 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Machipongo John

    I just finished reading "No Easy Day". It's about 300 pages long, the first 140 are about his life story and a sketch of his career. Not very interesting, but you can understand from their training how the Seals would be very quick on the trigger, but very precise. The last part of the book detailed the bin Laden attack. VERY interesting. Bisonnette was on the helicopter that crashed. From his narrative, it's easy to see how there was really no opportunity to take bin Laden alive. The action took place in a dark house (the power had apparently failed before the attack). The Seals could see with their night vision equipment, but they were being shot at through doors. Heads were popping out of doorways with no way to identify them or see if they were armed.

    The level of detail in the book makes it a very convincing story, and quite different from the story that came out at the time. However, I could not see anything in the book that could be called security-sensitive. Except maybe that the Seals all took Ambien when they needed to sleep.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Paul Ryan wants to know if OBL is better off than he was four years ago! Perhaps he should read the book! Hehe!

    September 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JohnDoe

    I have doubt is this was Osama Bin Laden. Just as you created Osama bin Laden in Afganistan you are now create others in Syria. They will can hunt you

    September 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Hessan

      Learn to speak English and don't be a coward by hiding your name.

      September 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Center of Thought

      Dude. Learn how to articulate.

      September 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • shawn

      you are as creative as your pseudo name...

      September 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. GAW

    I wonder how much this guy is getting for mentioning Taco Bell?

    September 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. manhandler1

    NO proof would ever satisfy you and your kind. EVERYTHING is an Obama conspiracy to you people. Doesn't matter what the issue might be...you'd try to hate on Obama for it. This Seal is a disgrace...money for him while tainting the rest of the Navy Seals.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not quite

      A body would have worked...maybe independent DNA analysis...

      September 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • wldcat1992

      couldn't agree more.

      September 10, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mark MyWords

    If you buy this obvious disinformation I have a goldmine that I would like to sell you

    September 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lan Okan

    I am so shamed of what this man has done and almost equally ashamed of those who have participated in this book.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bravo

    Navy SEALS, elite, the epitome of physical fitness, speed, accuracy, endurance,...none of that is possible without a nutritious Taco and bean burrito, because there is nothing the enemy despises more than a bean fart.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Will

    They want us to believe that a single man living in a remote location master-minded 9/11. Please.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • OEF

      Don't forget that he also bankrolled it. If you had read anything about Bin Laden before making ignorant comments, you would realize this IS the case.

      September 11, 2012 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
    • name

      TO OEF, before calling others ignorant:
      On June 5, 2006, the Muckraker Report contacted the FBI Headquarters, (202) 324-3000, to learn why Bin Laden‚Äôs Most Wanted poster did not indicate that Usama was also wanted in connection with 9/11. The Muckraker Report spoke with Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI. When asked why there is no mention of 9/11 on Bin Laden‚Äôs Most Wanted web page, Tomb said, ‚ÄúThe reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden‚Äôs Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11... He has not been formally indicted and charged in connection with 9/11 because the FBI has no hard evidence connected Bin Laden to 9/11.‚ÄĚ

      And as the 911 report states:
      ‚ÄúTo date the U.S. government has not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attacks. Ultimately the question is of little practical significance.‚ÄĚ -THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT, p 172

      Apparently our government finds it "of little practical significance" to give us a clear answer on who was responsible. Why would the 911 commission stop, and not continue investigating, if they did not have the source of money? This is outrageous.

      Please do not turn this into a smear campaign against me. I am not necessarily saying that Osama Bin Laden is not responsible for the attack, I'm just reporting that our Government does not appear to have much on him, nor do they seem that interested in providing real answers.

      September 11, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mike

    Headed to Taco Bell today for lunch and ordering the Seal Meal...

    September 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JohnDoe

    You need to start looking for an alternative candidate. The one will wisdom not a killer in chief. This country needs someone, a leader with wisdom and vision not the two we have now.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Annie

    No weeping from the women and kids?

    September 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Proud Independent !

    This man has disgraced his uniform and his country for a quick buck ! He took a celebrated moment in our history and exploited it just to make a few bucks ! I have immense respect for our armed forces and the job they do but I cannot support anyone who try's to profit off of exploiting a mission that was done to bring justice to the fallen ! I'm ashamed of this man !

    September 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Quick buck? How much did he make?

      September 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
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