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. nolongerarepublican

    "So we did not recognize Osama. One of the team was a quick thinker and yelled out "Osama, that you? It's me, your friend, Dan Rather". Osama raised his head and turned. We wasted him with 50 shots into his right eye. Nice teamwork." From the book

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

    You're going to be waiting until 2016 pal.

    September 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. TB

    seriously. yall ned to get off Obamas nuts. he wasnt the one who created Bin Laden. Reagan and the Bushes did!
    In my opionion Bin Laden had nothing to do with 911 and was a patsy. We really need to open our eyes and not believe everything we see and hear on TV. Bin LAden loaned the Bushes money in the 80s. bet you didnt know that! Reagan gave Bin Laden weapons and training in the 80s, thus the movie Rambo III remember!!! we've all had the wool pulled over our eyes.!! and if you think Obama is pulling the strings think again..there is a higher power that runs this country and it aint him. Presidents are puppets..for a bigger agenda...think about it

    September 10, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carl Agostino

      Are you really using Rambo III as a reference? You could have said Mujahadeen instead of showing your ignorance by referencing a damn movie. It doesn't matter that Stallone did his homework when making it. That's not the point.

      September 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • PN've seen too many movies.

      September 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • John W.

      Ignoring the Rambo 3 line, you got everything else right.

      September 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Michael

    Hey, CNN, why are you using his real name? Idiots! He did not speak using his real name on 60 minutes. Have you no shame?

    September 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • TexasAnne

      The "real" name has been all over the media for weeks. But is it REALLY his REAL name?? Do we know for sure? And the bottom line is, this guy chose to write the book & go public... so tell me who the real idiot is???

      September 10, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • AK

      Well, he was asking for it.

      September 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • snowdogg

      First outed by Fox News

      September 10, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • TexasAnnesnemisis

      TexasAnne is. Did I win?

      September 10, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jonathan

    We're not concerned. We highly doubt that you can find your way to the polling place.

    September 10, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sivick

    Do not underestimate the power of taco bell!

    September 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. nolongerarepublican

    Did he get Montezuma's revenge?
    A lot of that stuff is made in Mexico.

    September 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Marti

    In the end, hiding behind the skirts of two women. I called my son when the news stations started talking about how the President had requested airtime within the next hour. I told him to hurry home because something really big was going on and I didn't want him to miss it. He literally ran home from his friend's house and I asked him what he thought it was all about and he said all he could think of was that they caught Bin Laden, but he knew that would never happen so it had to be something else. So congrats guys, you accomplished the real mission impossible! And I totally understand going to Taco Bell to keep it real, they don't have the luxury of coming home, turning the TV on and crashing on the couch like the rest of us!

    September 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Troy

    Say what you want about this guy, but the fact is, he was part of the team that took out the worst terrorist in history. So he wrote a book...big deal, If its a crime, the law will prevail. he did the job, told the story. Im sure everyone here wondered like I did when this happened...Who were the Seals, how did it go down, what did they do after they got home???Dont lie, we all wondered!

    September 10, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobZemko

      Big deal? He violated his oath. He should be prosecuted.

      September 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      He didn't report anything that wasn't already reported. If anyone should be prosecuted, it is the government that leaked the details to begin with. He just set the record straight on their inaccurate statements.

      September 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wes Scott

      I did not wonder what the SEALS did after returning home. I did not care what the SEALS did after returning home. They volunteered for military service. They volunteered for their Special Forces assignments. They were given a mission and they successfully completed their mission. The minutae about how they accomplished the mission is immaterial, as is what they do with their personal lives. I am grateful that they were professional and accomplished their mission with minimal colateral damage. That is good enough for me.

      Matt Bissonnette made a personal choice to expose himself, his family and his comrades in arms to possible retaliation out of greed and ego. I hope that he rots in hell after living a life of disgrace for his violation of his oath to keep his mission confidential. He chose to make a political statement because he is a racist coward, traitor and liar. That is all I need to know about him.

      September 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. twotwotango

    This is like the 12th stupid article about the SEALs. Still have yet to see JUST ONE article on the BIGGEST STUDS of the Bin Laden raid ...the 160th SOAR Night Stalker aircrews!

    September 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. twotwotango

    This is like the 12th stupid article about the SEALs. Still have yet to see JUST ONE article on the BIGGEST STUDS of the Bin Laden raid ...the 160th SOAR NIght Stalkers!

    September 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brad

    This guy has no Honor or repsct for the Military, he answered to Greed and his ego...If he was a true professional and military man he would be keeping his mouth shut. He should go work for BlackWater or XXE what ever they call it now, its guys like these that give the military a bad name.

    September 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew Malone

      So...highly decorated SEAL – successful Petty Officer (NCO) and he gets out before hitting 20 years – and a guaranteed pension – I smell something.....:)

      September 10, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Marty

    I didnt like Obama talking about the raid – and I cant imagine the other special operators are happy with this guy spilling it all out there for the world to see. I totally believe Seals are heroes that should be compensated but this isnt sitting well with him laying it all out there with the details like he is. Even revealing the location of the mock up is too much – nobody should know where to start looking for anything like that.

    September 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chemical Castration®

      "I didnt like Obama talking about the raid – and I cant imagine the other special operators are happy with this guy spilling it all out there for the world to see. " Educate yourself. Pakistan spitefully blew every detail they could to get back at us for catching them out hiding OBL. He's been careful to hide key stuff in his book, but with crazies claiming bin Laden is still alive or that he's dead because of waterboarding, the truth needs to be told: Obama took a huge political risk to kill Osama bin Laden.

      September 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. joseph

    What ever happened to the code of silence he is a discrace to brotherhood,navy seal,Unuted States military and this country

    September 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gordonwagner

    Total nonsense. ObL died in December of 2001. Meaning that all those CIA tapes were FICTION. Why do you believe anything CNN tells you?

    September 10, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chemical Castration®

      How does it feel to be insane? Do you see little dancing fairies and stuff?

      September 10, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maynard

      Damn ! Fairies dance?

      September 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chemical Castration®

      "Damn ! Fairies dance?" I've never seen it, but I suspect Gordon has seen that and much, much more.

      September 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
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