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. 29RealBlackMan29

    Bin Laden is not dead. He was a CIA agent who was trained to fight the Soviet union. Do not be fooled – He may be locked up some where never to be seen again. He was more valueable alive than dead – Have you heard of witness protection

    September 11, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  2. James

    I live in Hampton Roads, VA. How many SEALS from team 6 do I know? ONE because he keeps talking about it. The rest get it.

    September 11, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. mteksolution

    How convenient that a Seal is doing all this just before the elections!! We Americans are smarter than that?

    Here is the thing though, Osama killed himself to avoid capture. Every Taliban is prepared for that with cyanides hanging around their necks. They shot him after he was already dead and decided to get rid of the body in a way that no one would ever find out and Obama can take credit. There is simply no other explanation. If we can show president Kennedy's body with half his head missing, then we could surely show Osama's body, the guy who killed 3000 or more on a single day. Americans deserved atleast that.

    September 11, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  4. USMC SGT 1978 - 1984

    Our military is the greatest fighting force on the planet. That is a fact! I love my country and I remain a dedicated Marine (even in civilian life). With all that said. I think it's an absolute discrace that someone (anyone), regardless of their participation in a historical event would write a book about a military mission. I respect Mr. Bissonnette for his dedicated service to our country. However, I think his moral code of honor is less that remarkable. Do your job, do it well and honor your unit by keeping your mouth shut.

    September 11, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • wilson

      Libraries are full of books about military missions. So, what's your point?

      September 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • bozoclown

      I have a hard time believing this guy. Everytime he answered a question that differed from the military account. He looked down and away. If you don't believe me go watch for yourself. That is the sign of a lie and he did it frequently, but not all the time, so it' wasn't his normal act in answering a question. This guy can say what he wants and no one will come out and call him on it and he knows that. This is about money and the only way he makes a lot is through contraversy.

      September 11, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      There is a difference between speaking and writing about it when it was classified. But it had been declassified. He was a primary witness to a historic moment. Having his point of view on what happened is good for history, and the country too.
      Yes the military has its face it wants to show to the general public, but what it comes down to the military is a group of people who will go into dangerous situations and possible kill a threat.

      September 11, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • kargo

      @Chickenhawk: Fight back? OBL murdered thousands of innocent people. What a crazy statement you've made.

      September 11, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chemical Castration®

      Sarge, you are about the first actual vet to say something about this, and you are right in principle, but this was too important. This wasn't taking down some gangster or two-bit warlord, this was the most disputed operation in revent history. There are clowns here today saying bin Laden is still alive, or that he died years ago, in order to harm the president's chances of re-election. Anyone who tries fixing an election ought to also be shot in the eye and dunked, whether it's closing the polls early, intimidating voters, breaking into a doc's office in the Watergate Hotel, or altering voting machines. He was on the spot and America needs to hear his story, and I bet many of the details have been munged together or changed but the main story is intact. They went in and they got him, and now he lives in a pineapple under the sea.

      September 11, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • N'oreaster

      Right on from someone who understands what 'honor' means. So many replies seem sarcastic and seem to be written simply to antagonize. But the ex-navy seal author is simply looking for the buck and 'fame' The other special forces members over decades understood that the honor that came with the job had nothing to do with the fleeting fame of book deals and the money. It's good to see that some still hold values of honor held way above the quick buck.

      September 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • SC

      @Chickenhawks: Umm... actually, isn't that what Osama and his band of idiots did? They were stupid enough to pick this fight – did you really think we weren't going to fight back?!?!?

      September 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. 29RealBlackMan29

    Bin Laden is in Witness protection

    September 11, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • 29RealBlackMan29

      Do not forget he was a trained CIA agent in the WAR against the Soviet Union

      September 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chemical Castration®

      And you say you are a black man? I bet that's not true either. Get back on your medication and it will all work out.

      September 11, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. PatD

    give the guy a break i mean he was part of a team that did something that no one else has been able to do in over 10 years.. i have my thoughts in the back of my mind that it was just a way to boost obama's presidental rating since it was at its lowest when that happened..

    September 11, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • erik

      And IF Bin Laden had been killed during Bush's term, it would have been during the lowest point in HIS presidency (somewhere around 24% approval rating during his last three years) So, what's your point? ....our military just goes to war to get bad guys to improve a president's approval rating? Our military deserves more credit than that. You dishonor their service and bravery to suggest otherwise.

      September 11, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chemical Castration®

      Obama's staff literally told him that if he tried and failed, the GOP would crucify him. They said that in this political climate, with the Teapublicans insisting he's an alien, that we should just admit bin Laden had beaten us and gotten away to live happily ever after. They said there was no political gain, and they were right: nothing Obama has done has filled conservative hearts with rage more than his killing of Osama bin Laden.

      September 11, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • N'oreaster

      why give the author a break? what he did as a Seal was praiseworthy but did you see the Seals who took out the Somali pirates holding the ship's captain with 4 fantastic shots try to make a buck from it? No!! AS a Seal he deserves praise. As someone who broke his oath, he deserves a kick in the pants and total dishonor.

      September 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chris May

    Again, congrats to the SEAL team for a job well done. Now, let's all get back to work and get on with the show.

    September 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Liz

    You american trust a man who would jeopardize his colleagues (those men and women protecting and serving your country) and their family’s lives for money /political reason / any other selfish reasons ? As an outsider, I would never trust someone like him. Even some of the things he wrote might be true, but i'm sure some are lies.

    September 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • lbpaulina

      Nobody is an outsider here.

      September 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Johnny

    People of the USA: As we morn the innocent victims who died on 9/11 I want you to ask yourself this question: Who do I think stands to benefits the most from the events of 9/11? Please write down a list of 5 people / organizations who you think would benefit FINANCIALLY and POLITICALLY from carrying out 9/11. Surprised by the answer? meto!
    You see, the American gov knows all too well that more than 75% of Americans are pre-disposed to hating Muslims / Arabs. Therefore, selling Americans the story that Muslims are the ones that carried out the event was a no brainier as you are all about to prove by bombarding me with hate replies for posting this message...which just proves my point. but that is not the point. The point is: Are you satisfied with not really knowing @ 100% who carried out the worst terrorist attack on our soil? I know you are not 100% convinced and I know you want to believe the Muslims did it but is that the truth? do you care...?

    September 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • FrenchyinON

      It IS the truth. Muslims did it. Not all Muslims, but every last person behind it was Muslim. Get over it.

      September 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. wilson

    You're a vile bitter person. You must be off your medications again.

    September 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bukoo

    Yeah... he didn't recognize him because Osama's been dead for over ten years already. The stupid thing about this farce is that with every criminal/dictator the US has backed, they've managed to kill them all and show the public their heads on a silver platter. So why then was the terrorist (OS) responsible for killing nearly three thousand Americans, not shown to the public or captured alive and interrogated to the fullest to learn more information about his terrorist organization and their future plans? Just think about it, the US would not be afraid to water board criminals. Simply answer, OSAMA WAS ALREADY DEAD and he's been dead for a long time now. It only takes common sense to see through the BS. If there was anything this Navy Seal was not supposed to disclose concerning National Security, he would not be on 60 Minutes or any news media or any book tour. The Seal is a decoy for the gullible public. Use your brain to THINK!

    September 11, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maddy Gascar

      You'd think that Bushy would have let the public know that, but then he wouldn't have een able to use that as an excuse to invade Iraq then, would he? "Ties to the Taliban". Ooga booga.

      September 11, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. MgGannahan Skjellyfetti

    Tough job. I can't say a damned thing because I have NEVER had to do something like that. I hope that for whatever reason he felt the need to tell his story, that it helped him overcome whatever problems he now has to deal with. Bin Laden got his just deserts. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Inshllah

    September 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ralph 1970

    This book should have never been allowed to hit the the mission is over, two he is dead and needs to stay dead, three when you are a member of the military and have the honor to be part of a mission like this you should just keep your mouth shut! As a Navy Seal he should understand why some things should never be published. I think all the money made from this book should be given to the families that lost someone or members that have lost legs and so on.........Prove to all the US military members you have their backs and take no money for yourself............

    September 11, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MAF

    That SEAL is a traitor and a coward.

    September 11, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Wilkie

    Sounds like an elaborate Taco Bell advertisement to me.

    September 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maddy Gascar

      Yeah, you're right. That's it. Riiiiiiight.

      September 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
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