long profile of the Navy SEAL that shot Osama Bin Laden, identified in the piece only as “The Shooter.” Was it a “capture or kill” mission? The shooter’s account [in italics]:The latest issue of Esquire has a
I'm just looking at him from right here [he moves his hand out from his face about ten inches]. He's got a gun on a shelf right there, the short AK he's famous for. And he's moving forward. I don't know if she's got a vest and she's being pushed to martyr them both. He's got a gun within reach. He's a threat. I need to get a head shot so he won't have a chance to clack himself off [blow himself up].
In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! The second time as he's going down. He crumpled onto the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again, Bap! same place. That time I used my EOTech red-dot holo sight. He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out. I watched him take his last breaths, just a reflex breath.
And I remember as I watched him breathe out the last part of air, I thought: Is this the best thing I've ever done, or the worst thing I've ever done? This is real and that's him. Holy shit.
Everybody wanted him dead, but nobody wanted to say, Hey, you're going to kill this guy. It was just sort of understood that's what we wanted to do.
The shooter wouldn’t confirm if other SEALs shot at the dead body, but did say he would have if he were in their place. The article also reveals some of the behind the scenes decision making about the operation:
The group discussed what would happen if they were surrounded by Pakistani troops. We would surrender. The original plan was to have Vice-President Biden fly to Islamabad and negotiate our release with Pakistan's president.
This is hearsay, but I understand Obama said, Hell no. My guys are not surrendering. What do we need to rain hell on the Pakistani military? That was the one time in my life I was thinking, I am fucking voting for this guy. I had a picture of him lying in bed at night, thinking, You're not fucking with my guys. Like, he's thinking about us.
The fear remained for the shooter and his colleagues that the mission would end with them in a Pakistani jail, being raped for the rest of their lives. It was a concern even at the complex. From the article:
We crossed to the south side of the main building. There the Shooter ran into another team member, who told him, "Hey, man, I just shot a woman." He was worried. I told him not to be. "We should be thinking about the mission, not about going to jail."
And some background on the use of Metallica in interrogations in Iraq (the shooter says the interrogations never got more aggressive than “repetitive questioning and leveraging fear”):
"When we first started the war in Iraq, we were using Metallica music to soften people up before we interrogated them," the Shooter says. "Metallica got wind of this and they said, 'Hey, please don't use our music because we don't want to promote violence.' I thought, Dude, you have an album called Kill 'Em All.
The rest of the article here, which includes a whole piece on the lack of support and resources to SEALs that have left the service (losing their health care coverage and a pension that totals just over $26,000 a year).