Osama bin Laden

Esquire Profiles Anonymous Osama Bin Laden Shooter

Nearly two decades with the Navy SEALs

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The latest issue of Esquire has a 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]:

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). 

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  1. 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.

    It’s a shame when even the Emperor’s Praetorian Guard don’t realize.

    1. Why in the world would Obama unnecessarily blow up Pakistani troops when they could just negotiate the release of the prisoners?

      Does he just really like killing brown people?

    2. He’s thinking about them so much that he’d apparently go to war with a nuclear power to secure the release of a squad of guys who invaded that country.

    3. That comment stood out as a little weird. It’s not like the operation was against Pakistan, even if it was on Paki soil. Killing Pakistani military would just create confusion.

      It’s not like the Paki’s wouldn’t give captured US Navy SEALs back. I can see no good that would come from fighting their way out.

  2. But more importantly, why should the rules not apply to him just because he was a SEAL with DEVGRU? Don’t do 20 years, you don’t get a pension, it’s that simple. I love especially how they said after their operator careers they “don’t want to keep carrying a gun”. So what the hell else are they qualified for after a career as an operator?!? Academi, DynCorps, TripleCanopy, the State Department, CIA Special Activities Division, and some others are the only things you are legitimately qualified for. It’s like someone doing twenty years as a pilot in the military then complaining they don’t want to fly when they leave the service but instead want a great job in corporate America doing something else. Then again, this entire story seemed kind of sketchy, so who knows the real story.

    1. That’s what I was wondering – he killed people for the government? Him and thousands of other servicemen.

      And leaving at 16 years means that he was high enough rank to continue to 20 and transfer to the fleet reserve – he wasn’t bumped out involuntarily.

      1. I was thinking the same thing. Sign up for the Reserves or National Guard. They would love to have a SEAL. Maybe even get a full-time job in the NG sitting at a desk.

        I knew several former Rangers and Special Forces guys who got out of active duty for health or family – and finished their 20 and beyond in the Guard.

  3. Interesting – I was just reading this over at RealClear before i popped over to Reason.

    I don’t know what to think. It’s disturbing on so many levels.

    A waste of all that training and all those skills. No transition from fullon-kill-all-the-time to “you’re home now…” Shitty benefits.

    Ugh. My younger brother died of cancer about 6 months after he got back from Iraq (101st Airborne), so he didn’t have to go through what this fellow (and thousands of others) have to.

    then I think – “If we’d never sent them over, this wouldn’t be happening.” It’s fucked up all the way around.

    1. Please don’t conflate the hunt for Bin Laden with the debacle in Iraq. The two had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with each other.

  4. 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.

    Really?

    The attack squad on the ground had no direct orders to kill him…it was just understood.

    That is it, I have decided. Our military and its civilian component is a pile of shit.

    1. From what I hear, SEAL Team 6 is not in the business of taking prisoners.

      I suspect that the civilian leadership is well aware of that and “told them” to bring him back “if able” so they could later make it sound as if that was an option for reasons of political correctness.

    2. Can’t we just be honest about things? “Yeah, we sent them there to kill him. And?”

    3. The attack squad on the ground had no direct orders to kill him…it was just understood.

      Is that a reference to Seal Team Six or the LAPD?

  5. You have got to be fucking kidding me to believe that Obama was ready to “rain hell” on the military of an Islamic country armed with Nuclear Weapons.

    I mean COME ON.

  6. Does this not pass the smell test for anyone else?

    1. Yeah, this just doesn’t smell good at all. I’d be pissed too that I wasn’t getting taken care of by the military, but you’re asking me to believe that this guy wants to remain anonymous WHILST doing an interview for Esquire?

      Uh huh.

      1. I don’t know, it’s just little things make me think its a bullshit interview. Nothing I can really put my finger on though.

        1. The whole “lying in bed with a picture of Obama near his head” just sounds a little too convenient to me. I’ve read other posts about this story where others have said similar things.

          Something ain’t right about it.

          1. Yeah, your reading comprehension.

            “I had a picture of him lying in bed at night, thinking, You’re not fucking with my guys.”

            1. Ah yes, I misread that.

              Still, The Obama worship just seems kinda weak sauce. Considering the way Benghazi played out the whole story seems fishy.

      2. If you think he got a raw deal for the sacrifices he made for his country, then you send him some money.

        There shouldn’t have been any surprises for him – he chose to leave and the navy is pretty damn upfront about what you get. I *had* (was ordered) to complete a long series of classes given by the military making sure that I knew what was offered and where to get it before I was allowed to leave.

        Benefits from the *military* are thin, but most states and the federal government have enormous agencies dedicated to given prior military free shit.

        That money you get after serving 20 years is not a pension – its a stipend you draw against possible future service. Retirement doesn’t happen until you work 30 years – not unsusual for defined benefits pensions. Its pretty much unheard of for them to vest early.

        His “thrift-savings plan” (our version of 401K) is in addition to a pension and is available to be rolled over into a retirement plan in his civilian career.

        If this guy is hurtint for work in any way, its his own fault.

        1. Yeah there’s all kinds of programs for veterans. Dozens, if not hundreds of them, both government and private sector. Hell, I bet he could make a “Hi, I’m the guy that killed Bin Laden, won’t you please put a five dollar bill in the mail?” and be set for the rest of his life.

  7. Maybe he can write a book and do freelance PTSD counseling.

  8. Why would Generalissimo Zero bomb Pakistan, when bribing them works so well?

  9. Anybody here upset that the president ordered this guy to assassinate Osama?

    1. Not as upset as you get when you can’t reach a jar on the top shelf of the fridge.

    2. Yep. We shouldn’t be in Pakistan, and we should have left Afghanistan 11 years ago. There are no good guys here. If we’d shot the fucker in Tora Bora during the initial invasion, that would be a different story.

    3. It’s hard to imagine anyone being a better example of an enemy combatant than OBL. I’m against the death penalty, and I’m against the whole kill list/drone bombing nonsense, but I don’t have a problem with going in there to kill him. Maybe you can convince me otherwise.

    4. He wasn’t assassinated. He was an enemy combatant.

    5. Not really. I’m more upset they feel the need to lie about their intent.

  10. Do SEALs really talk about using their “EOTech red-dot holo sight”? That just seems so weird to come out of one of their mouths.

    1. Maybe he contacted the manufacturer and negotiated a fee for mentioning it specifically in interviews?

  11. my only complaint about the linked story is how it is repeated *twice*, thusly 47 pages long, and fucking killed the toner in my printer.

    above complaints regarding either a) the veracity of the story, or b) knee-jerk mil-haters being snitty, should 1) direct the former at the esquire author, and for the latter, 2) please eat a bag of infected dicks

    1. Don’t you mean “suck a bag of dicks”?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzbURUrgQao

  12. why did i print it then?…

    subway reading. also, i like destroying the environment…. for pleasure. DIE, TREES! DIE!!

  13. One of two things is true with what we have been shown of this Esquire interview; the author is fabricating it or has been duped by a poser.
    The subject of the interview cannot have been a 16 year veteran of the military much less a part of the team to kill UBL.

    There are too many gross errors in understanding the military benefit system. no one gets out after 16 years without knowing what they are entitled to.

    The joke is either on the author or the reader.

    1. Yeah. That part really made me wonder too. He had a little over 36 months left and he got out? And the military wouldn’t give the guy who shot Bin Ladin a rear D job so he didn’t have to deploy anymore?

      Okay maybe he freaked out and just couldn’t take the military and left. In that case, it would seem he would have some kind of a combat related disability.

      I don’t know the Navy. But in the Army SF guys break all of the time. And they don’t kick them out of the military. They reclassify them into another MOS that they are capable of doing. Those guys are too smart and too valuable to just let walk out the door even if they are not capable of being in the SF anymore. There is something else going on here.

      1. The comments attributed to this person are so far from the reality that I can’t believe he is who he claims to be. If he was in the military at all, I’d bet that he did one 4 year stint and got out.
        But any journalist at this, level should be able to vet the source so is it a fabrication?

        Already, there is a lot of attention on the article and the issue isn’t out yet. I bet it sells a lot of newsstand issues based on this…

        Regardless, the source is too ignorant of military benefits to have actually served for long much less 16 years.

        As for getting out at 16, ‘Mark Owen’ who wrote No Easy Day coincidentally left the service after 16 years but he never claimed to have shot UBL. I spent 12 years on active duty with the Navy and retired from the reserves. I stand by the opinion that the source, if a real person, has little to no military experience.

        1. Some of these guys leave because they get huge paying jobs doing private security. Own got out because he figured he could make millions writing a book.

          This guy claims he got out, but doesn’t want to write a book and doesn’t want to take a high paying private security job. That makes no sense whatsoever.

      2. When I was out in the fleet we had a couple of SEALs that were finishing up their 20 in low-speed jobs.

        No way this guy does 16 and has no idea that he won’t get a pension without reaching 20.

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