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. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I'm not thrilled about him writing this book either but at least he didn't stop to talk to a chair when he entered the room! "Chair-talking" is a new skill the GOP invented and they've been using it for four years! And absurd Robmoney? Well, he didn't even bother to acknowledge the SEALS or our military as a whole, nor did he bother to acknowledge the Iraqi war veterans or those now serving in Afghanistan or the veterans who have already served or the ones who sacrificed their lives while serving their country. When pressed on his failure to acknowledge our military men and women in his convention speech, Mitt Romney replied, "there was no need for me to go through a long laundry list." So just imagine our brave men and women in uniform are now considered a "laundry list" by Mitt Romney and the GOT! I'm speechless!

    September 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tango_Chaser

      Really? After ALL that and now your speechless? Figures!

      September 10, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kay

    I read the seal charity didn't want any part of the money. I think that was reported on cnn.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mike

    Doesn't this buck-seeking big mouth know when to shut up? No honor, no class.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jonathan

    First of all, regarding kill or capture: does it sound like they were ever trying to capture?

    Secondly, they knew enemies occupied the compound because the Seals were fired upon after entering the first door? How do you know that? Enter half the houses in the US in the middle of the night and you will get shot at, regardless of whether the person could be considered an enemy or not.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RustyHinges8

    In the '60 MINUTES' interview, Bissonnette told the reason he wrote the book....that he wanted to say what really happened, but who believes him? Here is a Navy SEAL, drilled with training, perseverance, dedication and patriotism...yet, he's spilling his guts, and no one really knows why. There is also an e-book, written by Special Operations veterans, that are saying that Matt Bissonnette "broke the code of silence" because of "bad blood with his former unit, SEAL Team 6." The name of the book is 'NO EASY OP', which came out ahead of Bissonnette's. An article about the e-book stated, "Brandon Webb, a former SEALs sniper, said the e-book was based on conversations that he and this co-authors had with current members of SEAL Team 6, none of whom are identified. Webb said Bissonnette had talked to him over the past year about what it would be like to write a book about the SEALS. Webb said the e-book describes differences between the SEALS personalities and hell-raising...not missions or secret information. Eventually we'll find out why Bissonnette really wrote the book. Like Buddha use to say, "Three things cannot be long hidden...the sun, the moon, and the truth."

    September 10, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jonathan

    The CIA tried hard to keep Bin Laden hidden but that darn Pakistani doctor just had to spoil the whole thing.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SnakeDoctor_2743

    No honor. Huge shout out to the rest of the US Military including the members of Seal Team 6 who would never relinquish their honor for monetary gain.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brian Smith

    But it was supposed to be a kill or capture mission – so they shot him over six times to be sure he could be captured until he stopped moving. Was it because Kill was mentioned first and that's all they heard? Or do they just like filling bodies with lead?

    September 10, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • shawn

      it's a terrorist, all terrorists are better off with Made In USA bullets filling them!!!

      September 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Johnny

    Many of the critics of this man are the same hypocrites who call Pfc Manning a hero.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Absolutely.

      September 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mike

    For the most part they do not serve so they do not know what the sacrifice is all about. They are takers not givers. Remember they built it themselves and will proudly tell you so.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Butch

    I can't believe he survived the Taco Bell.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • shawn

      LOLZ!!! Funniest comment here!!!!

      September 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Red

    99% of books are written for the author to get money, but it's not okay if this guy does it...

    September 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. The Truth

    Why are we constantly subjected to these lies? mainstream media needs to know that the masses are waking up. We know 911 was an inside job thus this whole article is fabricated propaganda.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dawne

      If that's your thinking, then you need to move to the middle east. You don't belong here.

      September 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Truth

      you are a sheep

      September 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Truth

      You are right, I don't belong here with you morons. I am not as stupid as you sheep.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • OEF

      Have you even been to war? You are probably speaking out of ignorance. MOS? UNIT? NAME?

      September 11, 2012 at 4:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. lolol

    this whole thing is BS for amerikan sheeple.

    September 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Fingers tapping

    By and large a totally boring flat description. Bissonette would have done better to keep on the cloak of mystery and spec ops. He could have remained the hero who helped rid us of OBLaden, but instead he had to sell a book that provided pretty much no new insights. I am not taking away anything from what his seal team did.
    The intel people do months of prep work, the seal team goes in, short notice, adrenaline, they get the guy, and leave. The analysts work on post intel stuff. For the sake of our seals, we don't need it dramatized, romanticized or anything. They did it, good, get some rest. But why should One guy make a profit from the event when hundreds worked on this? And several other seals risked their lives just as he did...

    September 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • LC B

      You ask: "...Why should one guy make a profit ...?" Perhaps because he's THE ONE who had the courage to KILL & TELL?

      September 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
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