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. Smokey

    I think that, not to disrespect this guy and the job that he did because it's obviously one of the highest-stakes, most difficult tasks you can set someone, but him selling his story like this and doing all this press work, trying to be a celebrity and all, it really devalues and degrades the SEALs and the whole idea that these guys work behind the scenes and aren't in it for the glory. Gotta wonder what the other guys he worked with are thinking, now that he's kind of appointed himself unofficial spokesman and blown opsec all to heck. What if one of the other guys on the mission remembers it differently, but respects the chain of command and keeps it to himself? That'd be something that really burns, don't you think? Guy shoulda just kept his mouth shut.

    September 10, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jim

    A book full of lies by the Pentagon. Psy-op's live on.

    September 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. canchange

    this operation never suppose to be reveal to the public and to the enemi: you stilldont know your enemi;thats JOE BIDEN fall,he never got to mention TEAM 6. those operations should never be make public.thankswhat a vice president he should be in jail,thanks

    September 10, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big_D

      Joe Biden had a three state solution for Iraq that would have eliminated Iran without a shot fired. You should learn the language and try to get to a Naval Academy strategy meeting some day. Biden has more knowledge than you will ever even see.

      September 10, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Big_D

    Funny how he discounts the risks involved in approving a military action in a sovereign nation as nothing. Hope he doesn't plan to travel anywhere later. Pride goes before the fall.

    September 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dennismenace

    LOL. We were attacked because we cannot stay out of every country's business. MAN let me tell ya, we are so much more safe now that Saddam is gone! He was a serious threat! And I am so thankful to our troops for fighting for our freedom! Wait, thats not true either...My freedom nor ANYONE elses is in jeopardy..Its that "scare tactic" that our government...nevermind...we have lost millions of jobs, millions have no health insurance. And it IS getting worse yet we have a bottomless war budget...if I had a way out of this country, I would leave. im done. The American dream is gone, and will never come back., NO PRESIDENT CAN HELP US NOW...No man can bring jobs back, no person, not ever..

    September 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nomenace

      Where are you going to go? Canada or Mexico? Americans have put down Canada in almost every forum boards on the internet and joked about Canada and Mexico for years, i doubt you will be very welcome in any of those Countries. Canada is a peaceful country and always tried not to invade or getting involved in others Countries business. The majority of Canadian don't approve US invasion in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. And certainly not the coming invasion of Iran. Americans unfortunately has tarnish their image to the world with them wars and Canada surely don't want people with patriotic ideology in mind. I feel really sorry for you and hope you will find a good place to go to find the peace and freedom you're looking for.

      September 10, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lawrence

      Hi Dennismenace,

      You say you are done with the U.S. It's beyond help. Why don't you move somewhere that you might like more? Cuba, North Korea, some ara b sh thole country? Islamic Europe, some African sewer, Indian sewer, S. American dictatorships? There is nowhere better.

      You can judge the the quality of a country by the desire of foreigners to try to get in vs natives trying to escape.

      September 10, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leon Jacksonq

      A way out of this country is called a plane ticket, if you don't like it here, I'll pitch in on your ticket out.

      September 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff S

      Bring jobs back? You mean like when technology started to replace the workers in the fields at the end of the 1800s?

      Yeah the world changes. Technology changes how work is done. Jobs change. You can either adapt to the changing world or you can sit around and die wishing it hadn't changed.

      September 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. keb carerra

    That account sure is different than what was reported to the American public . Thanks for reporting the truth , I think we can handle it.

    September 10, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • lowlo

      that account is different from the one he told in the book. no thanks... i'll keep the official version.

      September 10, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • jqent

      And how do you know this is "the truth?" How, in fact, do we know that this guy wasn't just some schmuck who was left on guard duty while the rest of the crew actually did the job? I don't know how far we're supposed to trust a man who violates an oath.

      September 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Phalanix

    I have read his book, I refused to buy it because I do not want to support someone who willingly come out and spill all the beans so I had to borrow it from a friend. I will honestly flat out say right from the beginning.. it is an awesome action book to read... I couldn't put it down and finished it in one day. BUT, I can totally see why the DoD has a problem with its release, and I sincerely think he was a fool for putting this book into circulation. Granted I can understand he wanted the regular joe to understand the intricate and mass amount of sacrafice and effort that goes on behind the scenes to make sure life is as free as it is today... But not even being an intelligence officer to professionally gather intel, there is a treasure trove of information in this book that any insurgent would happily digest and use against any American force that may try to go after them. Most of the book is about his life in the teams and not the raid, and there is more information in this section than the raid itself that I would even say is a little to much. His attention to detail is his own undoing as he listed so much information in terms of weapon load outs, extraction and insertion tactics, team tactics.. I mean it goes on... This stuff may not be "Top Secret" but its certainly privileged in a sense that if your not on the teams, you generally wouldn't know. He don't think he should have published this book as detailed as it was.

    September 10, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ran

    Wow! That was one elaborate Taco Bell commercial.

    September 10, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Big Fish

    Funny thing is that although OBL was on FBI top list, he was not wanted specifically for 9/11. Yet we continually hear mastermind.

    September 10, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John Gold

    That was not Bin Ladin. He was killed years ago. Look up Mrs. Bhutto, ousted leader of Pakistan. See and hear what she said in an interview just a short time before her assassination. Our guys took out Bin Ladin a long time ago but American didn't get to share in the glory of the kill. A killing of a ruthless animal none-the-less, but a man who never blew up the WTC at all. He might have talked about airplanes and hitting the buildings, but he didn't pre-rig it for demolition. That was done by experts, lots of them. Look up Thermite, which was developed by the CIA. The only thing that could have made the metal I beams in the WTC wreckage remained at 1100 degrees for six weeks. The only thing. Wake up America, wake up the world. Finally, " Bin Ladin's body " was, against Islamic law, touched and taken and dumped in the ocean tied to a big piece of lead. No DNA, no need to prove who died at the hands of our Navy Seals. Oh, these guys are true patriots, great soldiers, but they were lied to just like you and I.

    September 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • jqent

      Thank you, Mr. Conspiracy. Say "hi" to Mrs Conspiracy and all the little Conspiracies.

      September 10, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Steven Hoefgen

    Then if that's the case, do we really know it was Bin Laden?

    September 10, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeffision

    "OK, I think that's him."

    uh, ok.

    September 10, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. k smith

    Amazing story but I like the #3 combo. 3 taco supremes and a drink. To each his own.

    September 10, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Refering to the deceased as: "two tacos and a bean burrito"

    is cold farted

    September 10, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. descarado

    Bin Laden had not been a threat to America for a long, long time. He was totally isolated and diminished.

    Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq was ever worth the life of one single American or NATO soldier. They are, and always will be, Islamic garbage dumps.

    September 10, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
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