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. sybaris

    "Two tacos and a bean burrito. It's routine."

    If you saw the 60 Minutes interview he mentions how the mission and killing OBL was or is the greatest event in history.

    I wonder if the routine nature of going to Taco Bell made him realize that he could no longer contain his ego.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Papa Ray

      No going to Taco Bell just helped him not be hungry. What do you have against him having an ego. All Warriors have big ego's. In fact I think it is pretty much required.

      September 11, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  2. yaung

    I think he got some money from Taco Bell to mention the name in his story. Obviously he is a businessman.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Papa Ray

      Well I hope he did, if not then we should tell Taco Bell to cough it up.

      September 11, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  3. Candice

    I am disgusted at this man for talking about the operation, for writing the book, for profiting. It was to seek attention. The most important person in my life was Special Ops for over 30 years. He never spoke about what he did. Only after his death did I learn of the tragic situations he and his unit were put in, and the amazing things they did to help protect my (our) freedom. Heros don't brag about what they did.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • doug

      Damn straight Candice.

      September 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      How many other people in this world write books about their accomplishments? I for one am glad to have this book, to finally know what really happened. Leave him alone.

      September 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • cindy is stupid

      Hey Cindy, i can't wait for November when all of your rights belong to man once again. I will enjoy beating you for getting out of line and letting the police arrest you for resisting man's punishment.

      September 10, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • atlsouth56

      Bravo Candice, well said. The SEALS are the ones that made this mission work and they did it as a team. They are the heroes and for one to step out of that team to tell their story was never part of that team. This guy was a hero at one time but threw it away by writing this book.

      September 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      Candice, I understand your position. I spent 14 years in the community. The people who violated the security was our President and NSC Chief who broke about a dozen secutiy violations. Thses politicians are the one who I think you should be angered at not the SF guys who are trying to put the story straight. You are to be honored for supporting the most important person in your life, standing by them but I think your focus should be directed at the politicians. Read the book as well as "Lone Survivor".

      September 11, 2012 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  4. SSampson

    I certainly respect the SEALs that did ran this mision – but there are a bunch of things THIS guy said that just seem off....Stuff that doesn't make sense to me....Some of it sounds like a fish story-

    For example.... I can't beleive tat anyone there thought that Bin Laden or those around him would actually have suicide vests on or available – These are the people that brainwash others into doing this stuff because they are either cowards OR too self-important – also, people like Bin Laden are paranoids – they would be worried about having armed explosives anywhere near – people that teach and direct others to infiltrate and destroy are distrutful by nature....

    All this is pretty basic stuff... and I KNOW that the SEALs would have excellent sources and profiles of these people

    I think this guy is in it for the dollars and glory – his OWN self-importance – sure he'll throw a few bucks to help families of fallen SEALs (he said he would) but I bet it isn't much.... and it SHOULD be all of it....

    September 10, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      All your assumptions are just that, assumptions. Why don't you do something and give all the proceeds away. So easy to sit back and judge someone else.

      September 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. saywhat

    OBL is dead and thats what matters.
    Couldn't risk capturing him alive.
    Mastermind of 9/11?

    September 10, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. coyote

    now I know why it was leaked. –

    September 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CandiceAvici

    Dude, you didn't recognize Osama because it WASN'T know, since he'd already been dead for a long've been set up, or, you're just out here telling bold faced lies for whatever is your agenda....

    September 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. saywhat

    Those of you who are interested as the anniversary of that crime against America and the world falls tomorrow, should read Frank Morales article " The Truth about 9/11 would Set America Free'.
    he is an Episcopal Priest and writer, former host of 9/11 Info and Resources series at St.Mark's Church.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. saywhat

    Time to do some contemplation folks.
    Those of you who are interested as the anniversary of that crime against America and the world falls tomorrow, should read Frank Morales article " The Truth about 9/11 would Set America Free'.
    he is an Episcopal Priest and writer, former host of 9/11 Info and Resources series at St.Mark's Church.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Boring Joke Catharsis

    Keep eating Taco Bell and it may prove hazardous to your heath.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mythos

    He broke OMERTA. Back in the day he would be sleeping with the fishes.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. chris

    Good job SEALs. He said it right – when all you see is a guy's head you don't know if he's got a gun, a suicide vest, or a remote control detonator. I'm glad these guys got him, and glad Obama did this right – he did what Cheney couldn't do (but maybe getting BL long ago in Tora Bora would have cut back on war costs and war costs are good for Halliburton and Bechtel).

    September 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Josh

    Whether we like it or not, this was an unarmed leader of our enemy who posed no threat and was shot in the head. It violates US foreign policy as this was an act of assignation and tarnishes the image of the hard working men and women of our armed forces. No longer does the US stand on high ground to criticize foreign nations who engage is similar exercises, as the irony is that now we have become that which we swore to fight against. A society that stands on an ever compromising group of values and laws that are only enforced when convenient.

    September 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      Blame this one your fearless leader.

      September 10, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Homme

      You're mistaken on a whole bunch of levels. First off Bin Laden was the leader of a terrorist organization not a country and didn't enjoy the protection of international law. Secondly, it doesn't violate US foreign policy that bans assassination for the same reason. Thirdly, Bin Laden hardly operated in accordance with international law so I don't think he should have enjoyed its protection.

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

      Are you honestly expecting us to believe that you have to be an official leader of a country in order to be protected from assassination attempts by the US?

      September 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh is Dumb

      @Josh – If you are to be classified under a foriegn policy protection you first have to be associated with a country and since OBL was exiled from his home country and no one would declare him as a citizen he cannot benefit from forgien policy protections. Its spelled assasination as well, you have misspelled this word so many times you have to be a republican.

      September 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • SickofIt

      So can someone here cite evidence of US law that permits our military to enter a foreign country and murder an unarmed person (criminal or not)? I subject to you that there isn't any. This was murder. They went into a house and murdered a bunch of people. And they STATE that "Bin Laden" (aka some poor sap who ended up playing the part of Bin Laden, probably for $50 and a sack of rice) wasn't even resisting, so they could have taken him alive, put him on trial, and humiliated him in front of the whole world.

      Of course, since this is all a pack of nonsense and lies, this is irrelevant.

      September 11, 2012 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      I'll spoil the big revelation of the book for you so you don't have to buy it.

      They were ordered to take him alive if they could. Osama peaked his head around a corner as the SEALs were coming up the stairs, and not knowing who he was or his intentions at the time (they didn't know if he had a weapon on him and had already been shot at by one of the other male members of the house) the point man took two shots at him. They later entered the room to find his convulsing body and realized they'd "accidentally" shot him in the face. They then shot the convulsing body several times (since they weren't bringing him back alive at that point), then proceeded to positively identify him. Why the original story was told as "he used a human shield and was armed" was to make the story more dramatic and more politically palatable. The account told in the book is actually kind of slow, they were moving slowly and methodically through the house and basically shot him unintentionally. That's not the kind of fast-paced action people expect out of SOF raids, hence...

      September 12, 2012 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  14. chris

    Now if the Muslims can just stop the rest of their crazies from causing trouble, they and the rest of the world would be much better off...

    September 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • saywhat

      We invaded Iraq driven by Bush-Cheney madness, caused the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians and thousands of American soldiers. Ditto for Afghanistan and the craziness and occupation continues.
      Who are the crazies? difficult to say.

      September 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Akim

      I agree if all the terrorists regardless of their faiths, origins, nationalities, etc stop attacking other peaceful nations/countries/communities (doesn't matter if they are using the excuse of religion or any other source of money, etc), this world will be way more peaceful than one can imagine...

      September 10, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Darkness_549

      saywhat – and Clinton:

      "One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
      –President Bill Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998

      "If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
      –President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998

      "Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."
      –Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998

      "He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
      –Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

      September 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. OtherSF.

    OPSEC ! OPSEC ! Dang Navy ! That is why you never hear anything from SOCOM US Army. Hooah!

    September 10, 2012 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
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