The story put out by the White House about how Osama bin Laden met his end turns out to have been a nice bedtime story, but a little short on truth.
A book on the raid coming out next week tells a much different story than the "official" account put out by the administration.
A firsthand account of the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden contradicts previous accounts by administration officials, raising questions as to whether the terror mastermind presented a clear threat when SEALs first fired upon him.
Bin Laden apparently was hit in the head when he looked out of his bedroom door into the top-floor hallway of his compound as SEALs rushed up a narrow stairwell in his direction, according to former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen in "No Easy Day." The book is to be published next week by Penguin Group (USA)'s Dutton imprint.
Bissonnette says he was directly behind a "point man" going up the stairs in the pitch black hallway. "Less than five steps" from top of the stairs, he heard "suppressed" gunfire: "BOP. BOP." The point man had seen a "man peeking out of the door" on the right side of the hallway.
The author writes that bin Laden ducked back into his bedroom and the SEALs followed, only to find the terrorist crumpled on the floor in a pool of blood with a hole visible on the right side of his head and two women wailing over his body.
Bissonnette says the point man pulled the two women out of the way and shoved them into a corner and he and the other SEALs trained their guns' laser sites on bin Laden's still-twitching body, shooting him several times until he lay motionless. The SEALs later found two weapons stored by the doorway, untouched, the author said.
In the account related by administration officials after the raid in Pakistan, the SEALs shot bin Laden only after he ducked back into the bedroom because they assumed he might be reaching for a weapon.
Not a big deal. Even if, as the author says, the SEALs were told to "detain" Osama if he didn't resist, that's hardly a practical order when you're in a darkened house and a male who may or may not be armed sticks his head out of a bedroom door. Screaming "Halt! SEALs! Put your hands up!" would likely have resulted in the deaths of Americans. Better to shoot first and ask questions at the funeral.
There was also no "40 minute firefight" outside the compound. In fact, the SEALs weren't fired on at all outside of the gate.
The author also writes that the SEALs knew that Obama would take credit for the raid. And they had some choice words about their meeting with Vice President Biden:
Bissonnette writes less flatteringly of meeting Vice President Joe Biden along with Obama at the headquarters of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment after the raid. He says Biden told "lame jokes" no one understood, reminding him of "someone's drunken uncle at Christmas dinner."
One thing that angered the SEALs was President Obama's promise to invite them back to the residence for a beer and never following through:
After listening to Obama's speech and enduring Biden's "lame jokes that no one got (He seemed like a nice guy, but he reminded me of someone's drunken uncle at Christmas dinner)" the president invited the team to return to his residence later for a beer.
But Owen writes a few weeks later: "We never got the call to have a beer at the White House." Joking with a fellow SEAL, "Hey, did you ever hear anything about that beer?" Walt cracks: " You believed that s**t. I bet you voted for change too, sucker."
The book sounds like it would make compelling reading. And it should be interesting to see if the press now does anything to alter the record -- and the narrative - they created over the raid.