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. BrofromtheO

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

    September 10, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. james

    Well, part of his face was on the wall..where it should have been...good job.

    September 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chuck

    CNN – Any reason you have to post his real name???

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

      Because everyone but you already knows what it is.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • nolongerarepublican

      That's nothing. Google earth has a map and close up photo showing where he lives.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. irritated

    This guy is an embarrassment to everyone that ever wore a uniform. No wonder he was thrown out of the teams. His greed is only outdone by his stupity and his need for attention. He has sold out his brothers. He now has a huge target on his back and that of his entire family. I appreciate his service but he is truly a moron that needs to go away. I hope the Pentagon gets him out in jail. How long will it take for this Jackhole to start naming his ex-brothers-in-arms. Pathetic.

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

      Someone hasn't read the book. He wasn't thrown out of the Navy. Greed? He is not receiving a dime from these book sales. It is all going to legal fees and charity. Naming his ex-brother in arms? He didn't even want to sign the flag given to Obama from the raid because he knew the number of people that would see it. He signed a fake name as did many other SEAL's. The only thing that is irritating is you talking about things you clearly know nothing about. Educate yourself before opening your mouth.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rae Ann Pointer

      Does it bother you that Obama took credit for the entire engagement when he announced Bin Laden's death? Do you think he is trying to profit from it now during his bid for reelection?

      September 10, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • irritated

      Rob-I may know a little more than you think. Would the self absorbed author of the book actually admit that he was thrown out?? Not of the Navy but the teams (big difference). He has disgraced all UDT, Frogmen, and SEALs before him. He has now been shunned by that entire community. Obama is also a complete loser. How is it that these guys worked in a high degree of secrecy until Obama came along?? The person that leaked the info should be tried for treason. Obama was the enabler.Someone is going to die as a result of his (and Obama's) big mouth.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |

      Embarrassment? Feel free to give everyone your own rap sheet, before calling someone like this an "embarrassment"

      September 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • irritated II

      Rob-I may know a little more than you think. Would the self absorbed author of the book actually admit that he was thrown out?? Not of the Navy but the teams (big difference). He has disgraced all UDT, Frogmen, and SEALs before him. He has now been shunned by that entire community. Obama is also a complete loser. How is it that these guys worked in a high degree of secrecy until Obama came along?? The person that leaked the info should be tried for treason. Obama was the enabler.Someone is going to die as a result of his (and Obama's) big mouth.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonathan

      If you believe that Don'tBreed, I have a bridge to sell you. Are you his accountant?

      September 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bayousara

    Bissonnette needs to be tried and if convicted for treason, put in the pokey for a lifetime. All the reading material he should get is his own book. This guy hates Obama, and that is why he wrote this book.

    September 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • CMR. Rielly

      Obama needs to be tried and hauled off to Leavenworth Federal Prison. He not only lied to the American People, he is The Great Black HOAX!

      September 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Will

    Why isn't writing a tell-all book like this considered high treason? He at the very least, leaked classified information regarding how such an operation is executed.

    September 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rae Ann Pointer

      That's curious. So is leaking information a good thing or a bad thing? Think before you respond.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • CMR. Rielly

      OK Mr. Expert in Military Secrets. Obama leaked more information that Mark. He is a hero. Obama is an embarrassing liar who is only out for OBAMA and the Ugly Monley.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Will

    The "Taco Bell" comment simply illustrates what a "legend in his own mind" he is.

    September 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rae Ann Pointer

      Oh Yes, scientists do talk about the high correlation between the taco and narcissism. Its everywhere. You do believe in science don't you Will?

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

      If your sentence is to be taken serious, I am not only a legend but a GOD...

      September 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SusieTx

    Obviously not the right person for this job.

    September 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rae Ann Pointer

      A results-oriented approach would indicate that he was the perfect person for the job. Contrary to popular belief, it was the SEALs that took bin Laden out not Obama. Obama merely got out of the way. Thankfully, Bisonette continued to show his bravery and expose this administration's BS.

      September 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. achmed fubar

    Everytime i got back CONUS first stop was always Waffle House or JIB, sometimes TB. Little things that remind you are home, safe.

    FYVM!, AF

    September 10, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jonathan

    You are a prime example of why this great country isn't as great as it once was.

    September 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. wmd

    They shot one of his wives, wonder why it isn't spoken about.

    September 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sparky

    Wow chunky! you were a SEaL?? lol

    September 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Whatever

    I'm kind of conflicted here. On one side, people will get to read a real-life story of some bonafide Americn HEROES who did what they were trained to do and was succesful in the mission, at hand. That deserves applause. On the other side, If a book was going to be written, I wished all the SEALS were onboard...even those retired. I know Bissonnette says most of the profits would go to benefit wounded/injured soldiers who have come home, but it still seems kind of selfish to me.

    September 10, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. GW

    This whole thing has been mishandled right out the gates when on day 2 the administration was boasting of SEAL team 6. This is where the British will always have us beat, they keep their mouths shut on operations like this. They may let you know that he was killed, but how and by who would remain tightly wrapped. All the American public should have been told was that he was killed in a CIA operation, that's how you cover your secret services. The SEAL's aren't meant to be paraded around as hero's, you start doing that and you will end up with a situation like this.

    September 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dan

    Did The Commander In Chief reveal information about how the decision to go ahead with raid? What secret did this man reveal? What did he say that would put anyone in jeopardy in future raids?

    September 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
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