Matt Bissonnette’s Information Operation Against a Broken System of Secrecy

“We all knew the deal. We were tools in the toolbox, and when things go well they promote it. They inflate their roles.” –Mark Bissonnette

HuffPo and AP/CBS have an initial description of how Matt Bissonnette’s story of the Osama bin Laden killing differs from the story the Administration has told. While the details are interesting, I expect we can learn as much about how a well-trained SEAL manages InfoOps as we learn about the events of Bissonnette’s life from the book.

As I pointed out yesterday, once DOD got a copy of the book, the publisher announced it would almost double the initial print run and advance the publication date by a week–making it much harder for DOD to pre-empt the unredacted publication by buying up the copies. Bissonnette has also already planned to give at least some of the proceeds of the book to the families of SEALs who have died (something that former CIA officer Ishmael Jones also did), meaning DOD can’t punish him by seizing his earnings.

And now, with just the bits of information already public about the book, Bissonnette has made it very difficult for the government to prosecute him–and certainly not before the election.

The most interesting detail that both HuffPo and AP report is that Osama bin Laden never put up a fight.

“We were less than five steps from getting to the top when I heard suppressed shots. BOP. BOP,” writes Owen. “I couldn’t tell from my position if the rounds hit the target or not. The man disappeared into the dark room.”

Team members took their time entering the room, where they saw the women wailing over Bin Laden, who wore a white sleeveless T-shirt, loose tan pants and a tan tunic, according to the book.

Despite numerous reports that bin Laden had a weapon and resisted when Navy SEALs entered the room, he was unarmed, writes Owen. He had been fatally wounded before they had entered the room.

“Blood and brains spilled out of the side of his skull” and he was still twitching and convulsing, Owen writes. While bin Laden was in his death throes, Owen writes that he and another SEAL “trained our lasers on his chest and fired several rounds. The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless.”

While I’m sure there are many details that are of greater tactical sensitivity, this one differs just enough from the previously official version that it makes it toxic to pursue. After all, prosecuting Bissonnette would require acknowledging that Bissonnette violated his non-disclosure agreement, which would in turn requiring admitting to the truth of what he presents in his book. (I’m also wondering whether the convenient legal fiction the government used for this op–making it a CIA op to make the violation of Pakistani sovereignty more acceptable–adds a wrinkle to his NDA.) So it would require admitting that the Administration told lies–for legal reasons, strategic ones (the book reveals that OBL’s body wasn’t treated with the respect the Administration claimed), and most of all, political ones.

Prosecuting Bissonnette would require admitting that the government used its unilateral authority over the nation’s secrets to tell a fiction–not an egregious one, but still one that served a significant political objective.

Now there are probably legal ways around that problem (they could prosecute Bissonnette for revealing obscure details that no one really cares about, for example). But probably not political ways around it, because at best, it would seem like retaliation for exposing the Administration’s fluffing of the facts.

It appears that Bissonnette has shown that the Administration used its control over secrecy as a political tool, not just an operational one, and to prosecute him, they’d have to make that point even more clear.

The government spends a lot of money to make sure its special operations warriors know how to operate–alone or with just a few others–in terribly unfriendly environments, relying on their wits, their experience, and tremendous amounts of skill. It was inevitable that one of those warriors would one day use those skills to win this particular battle.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

48 replies
  1. bmaz says:

    Agree.

    At the same time, Bissonnette comes off, from this report, as a whiny dick. He complains that a false story of the shoot was concocted and, yet, while he is likely truthful, the story was put forth to protect, among others, substantially Bissonnette and his team.

    In the same vein, Bissonnette complains of Obama taking political credit and glory. But, just as Bissonnette and his fellow SEALS seem to be concerned that they get credit for the physical risk and execution, so too Obama hung his ass just as far out on the line politically. For doing so, yes, he is entitled to the political credit and glory.

    While Bissonnette may have put one over on the over-secrecy regime, I have VERY mixed feelings about him based on what I have seen so far.

  2. DWBartoo says:

    The ” … political credit and glory …”?

    Pretty thin “stuff”, in light of the larger and greater costs.

    Genuine credit and earned respect would, of course, require actual courage and standing for real and meaningful change from seeking world-wide hegemony.

    Naturally, that is too much to expect. Much too much.

    As is a functioning Rule of Law and essential respect for International Law.

    Pax Americana is NOT going to end well … and ANY glorification of it, is short-sighted, small-minded, and simply wrong.

    Thank you EW, on the other hand, for informed human perspective and abidingly reasonable sensibility.

    DW

  3. joanneleon says:

    What I thought was the strangest thing is that apparently he never says who shot bin Laden in the head. I guess you have to assume it was the point man going up the steps because he says there were two guns by the door, neither of them loaded, and does not mention anything about a gun in his hand while lying on the ground or the hands of either woman. Maybe this would be a detail that would get him into trouble or would single out the person who actually killed bin Laden and start a jihad against that person or maybe it is just protocol that you never admit who exactly killed a target or that it is always considered to be the entire group that takes responsibility. But it does leave things very confused and if he did not want to admit who shot him why does he disclose that he and another SEAL shot him in the chest afterwards?

    To state the obvious, I think we have to consider that this book may have been written on behalf of political operatives who were looking to counter the use of the bin Laden kill as a major achievement in the Obama 2012 campaign strategy. They may particularly have been trying to negate any benefit from the Hollywood movie about the operation, particularly if they could make it all look like fiction or a “bad action movie” as the author referred to the various accounts from the officials. Perhaps this was the personal gain that McRaven was talking about rather than profits from book sales, as in, some political operative paid him to do this. This is all speculation on my part, of course, but it wouldn’t be the first time that a book was used as a political weapon.

    I don’t think he comes across as a “whiny dick” though, but it’s interesting that the book even mentions that the SEALs didn’t think much of Obama or that he mentions that the invitation to come up for a beer in the WH residential quarters never happened, and that remarks were made about how they fell for that “You believed that shit. I bet you voted for change too, sucker.” And they get digs in on Biden too. That part seems odd, like it was written by a political operative rather than a SEAL. But who knows?

    It will be interesting to watch the counterspin unfold. Reuters (Tabassum Zakaria and Mark Hosenball) has some already from the typical anonymous sources (is that you John Brennan?)

    In the confused hours after the raid, White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan had originally said that bin Laden “was engaged in a firefight” with the Navy SEALs.

    [ … ]

    Two sources familiar with official U.S. government reporting on the bin Laden raid said it was unsurprising that there were discrepancies between the book’s account of how bin Laden was killed and previous official versions.

    In any combat situation, participants in the operation would normally come away with different accounts and perceptions of what happened, the sources said.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/29/us-usa-security-binladen-book-idUSBRE87L16C20120829

  4. BSbafflesbrains says:

    Apparently I am too cynical to believe anything anymore. Don’t believe this book was intended to be truthful as much as hopeful it would be harmful to O. Zealots on the R side would be willing to pay this guy to “swiftboat” O’s security accomplishment and pay him more than what he would receive from royalties he is donating. Bottom line I can’t trust either side since it is clear neither side is on our side.

  5. matt carmody says:

    I’m wondering if, on the odd chance Mitt wins, the Romneys will have Servpro come in to completely wash down the White House to get the black out. Change all the silverware, dishes, new beds, stuff like that.

    I was 11 when the Freedom Rides took place and the mood in this country now doesn’t seem all that different than it was then. What a pity.

  6. bmaz says:

    @DWBartoo: You don’t think it took a lot of balls for Obama to greenlight this operation?? I am no Obama fan, but I will give him credit here. It was a monumentally huge call fraught with all kinds of peril, physically and politically.

  7. Peterr says:

    After all, prosecuting Bissonnette would require acknowledging that Bissonnette violated his non-disclosure agreement, which would in turn requiring admitting to the truth of what he presents in his book.

    Really?

    Couldn’t they simply argue that because he did not vet anything with them, whatever he published — be it true, false, or a matter of opinion — violates the non-disclosure agreement?

  8. matt carmody says:

    We’re close to Star Chamber justice in this country, why not just disappear him? That’s where we’re headed.

  9. BSbafflesbrains says:

    @matt carmody: Exactly, we just need to keep expanding “our” definition of “suspected” terrorist. Security over Freedom. Was it Socrates who said if you give up freedom for security you will have neither.

  10. pdaly says:

    When I heard the news that HuffPost got a copy of the Bissionnette book I hoped to hear that someone similarly had found one for emptywheel, too.

    joanneleon wrote: “and if he did not want to admit who shot him why does he disclose that he and another SEAL shot him in the chest afterwards?”

    I thought the same thing. Doesn’t this confirm, as well, the entire team was on a kill (not capture) mission? Or were Bissionnette and fellow soldiers (or were they technically ‘agents of the CIA’ for this op as emptywheel alludes to?) merely shooting bin Laden in the chest to end his suffering?

  11. OrionATL says:

    this is basically swiftboat operation #2:

    find a third-party military figure(s) with public credibility and have them destroy the democratic opponent’s edge in national security matters.

    i will be very interested to see if the obama electoral machine anticipated this, as they certainly should have.

    as with the first swiftboating, the apparent distance from the republican political machinery will make it hard to make a credible connection between bissonnette and/or his publisher and the rnc.

    as for bissonnette’s views on obama, they are commonplace fox-news views and probably held by 80-90% of white enlisted men. just from a social acceptability standpoint, it would have been long odds he would have held more positive views of obama.

    bmaz’s comment:

    “In the same vein, Bissonnette complains of Obama taking political credit and glory. But, just as Bissonnette and his fellow SEALS seem to be concerned that they get credit for the physical risk and execution, so too Obama hung his ass just as far out on the line politically. For doing so, yes, he is entitled to the political credit and glory.”

    is an excellent summary of risks taken.

    if obama doesn’t say “go”,

    bissonnette has no book to write, or at least none that is other than humdrum national security blood and guts.

  12. What Constitution? says:

    Yes, this is an interesting juxtaposition. Assume Obama et al don’t like what this guy has written — in a world with rules, public awareness and consequences, the author might be difficult to prosecute and/or silence. Do we live in such a world at this point? Seriously, this author could find himself rooming across the hall from Bradley Manning, awaiting a “trial” that may never happen or, if it does, will be conducted in secret to avoid disclosure of “government secrets” — or just be dead on Presidential edict for suspicion of providing material support for terrorism. What is to stop any of that happening? Manners? Electoral politics? Rush Limbaugh?

  13. Lieber's ghost says:

    Oh, so now ObL disappeared into the dark room. It used to be, ObL got shot in the head, said to himself, “Uh-oh!” and ducked inside to tuck his cerebellum in, so the plucky team had to storm the room with guns blazing in one of those NYPD-style firefights where nobody but twenty cops are firing. Disappeared into the dark room, yeah right. The SEAL team left the lights on in the compound? No night-vision goggles?

    Clearly now the death squad is falling back on a modified limited hangout – obscure the war crime with lots of peril and fog of war, when the only question is, Which war crime is it: giving no quarter, or murder of prisoners? We’ll find out soon enough, because the Pakistanis are going to reconstruct it at the scene, and then some hapless US NOCs are going to die in precisely that way. It’s the inverse golden rule.

  14. JTMinIA says:

    Maybe I’m not understanding your argument, ew, but I really don’t agree with this at all: “Now there are probably legal ways around that problem (they could prosecute Bissonnette for revealing obscure details that no one really cares about, for example). But probably not political ways around it, because at best, it would seem like retaliation for exposing the Administration’s fluffing of the facts.”

    If that were generally true, then the Administration wouldn’t have gone after Manning, because that sure as heck looked like retaliation for exposing mistakes to me. Instead, I think the problem is much simpler: people don’t care about the things that Manning exposed and people don’t care about wimpy-looking desk-soldiers who might be gay; people do care about Bin Laden and people do care about macho SEALs. This guy won’t be touched simply because he’s a SEAL who killed Bin Laden. It has zero to do with, IMO, whether it would appear to be retaliation. The public has no problem at with retaliation, as long as it is aimed at people that they are predisposed not to like.

  15. DWBartoo says:

    @bmaz:

    Sure, credit where credit is due, bmaz, Obama’s “operation” against bin Ladewn establishes the notion that respect for international law has no meaning.

    It takes lots of “balls” to establish a precedent which say “we” can do anything we want. It is in the nature of a tradition, it is doctrinaire, it is quintessentially the touchstone of American “leadership”; call it the Obama Doctrine, the new Manifest Destiny.

    Now, it also makes it clear that “they” or “anyone” can do the same, for eventually the USA will NOT rule the world, in fact, it already does not, and never, honestly, did.

    If the raid had failed, then there would have bee NO meaningful “fall-out” for Obama, politically, as “news” of the failure would never have been heard. Rumors, perhaps, but that is all. A sad, classified but heroic loss of American life, a mere two-day “story” …

    Now, it turns out that some lying was going on, more than a little.

    You are entitled to your opinion, as I am entitled to mine.

    And I hold that it takes very little in the way of courage to order assassination of another human being IF your happen to be President. Whether it is wise or prudent can not now, or yet, be decided.

    However, let us wait until more hearts and minds are “won” and then tally the costs and the benefits. Obama was, personally NEVER at any risk, he merely placed others, however “gung-ho” they may have been, in that position … and his act places ALL of us at risk that others may follow his “lead”.

    Frankly, the main and primary “benefits” for Obama, and he was thinking about himself, one imagines, as he usually does, according to some of his most ardent supporters … were propaganda, that is PR, and political … as in being “tough” … tough enough to beat the Republicans at their own “game” of ruthless “pragmatic expediency” in the very best Machiavellian tradition.

    Heck, some people actually think that Obama is a “nice guy”, who just happens to protect the criminal fraud of the bankers, the transgressions of the nuclear and petroleum industries, and decides who he wants to kill, whenever and where ever he wishes, without due process … but then Obama views the law and the Rule of Law as “means” to a “end” … rather than a most important end in and of itself.

    And, whatever you may think of his action in having bin Laden “removed”, be it bold, or courageous, I think that Obama’s choice of “action” simply underlines his disdain for something I consider foundational to civil society, and that is respect for law … pure and simple.

    And that lack of respect for the law, which this nation has come to to pursue as “policy” and urges on others, as we saw recently in London … will come back to haunt us. One way or another.

    DW

  16. tjallen says:

    If the 2 shots while coming up the stairs blew out OBL’s brains, and Bissonnette didn’t fire those shots, then he’s not “the man who killed Osama.”

    According to a story here:

    http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2012/aug/29/navy-seals-bin-laden-book-contradicts-white-house–ar-2154679/

    there have already been calls for death issued against the author.

    Quote: “Jihadists on al-Qaida websites have posted purported photos of the author, calling for his murder.” end quote

    Isn’t this why Obama kept secret the identity of the soldiers, to protect them from Al Quaida or Taliban assassination squads? But this soldier/author wanted so badly to be a known hero, he’s now blown the cover that Obama gave him?! Look at what another famous author went through to avoid a fatwa (Rushdie).

    The story I cited above also has the most extensive quotes and summaries of the book that I’ve seen, as other AP stories have omitted some of the details stated herein.

  17. tjallen says:

    Here are the book quotes/summaries showing that Bissionette was not the OBL killer:

    quoting the AP’s story:
    Bissonnette says he was directly behind a “point man” going up the stairs. “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.

    end quote

    see
    http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2012/aug/29/navy-seals-bin-laden-book-contradicts-white-house–ar-2154679/

  18. emptywheel says:

    @JTMinIA: Manning didn’t directly undermine any big story Obama was telling–certainly not one that was key to hsi reelction. So while it is clearly retaliation, it’s not retaliation for exposing his lies (except for the whole Yemen drone thing but we knew that).

  19. tjallen says:

    @emptywheel: Not sure I get exactly what you’re saying – you mean someone in Dept of Defense anonymously revealed that Mark Owen is a penname for Mr. Bissonnette? (as a kind of payback?)

  20. emptywheel says:

    @tjallen: Yes. The Fox guy who first reported it is Pentagon beat writer, then Craig Whitlock followed up w/story based on Pentagon sources.

    It’s possible some of his mates first exposed his ID. But the language from DOD was pretty brutal about how he brought this on himself.

    I laid out some of this in this post.

  21. MadDog says:

    @emptywheel: One could possibly go further and suggest that the “outing” by DOD was part and parcel of a deliberate strategy to buttress Bissonnette’s credibility and assist in a campaign of pushback against the Obama Administration’s “I am Hero!” self-glorification.

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @bmaz: Assuming the story is credible and Bissonnette is what he portrays himself as being, and while it may not come out in this telling, something of considerable import must have pissed off this SEAL for him to take on his service, some of his colleagues and the Obama administration. Learning what that is may be of more value than learning more fragments of how Osama bin Laden was really killed by a government that formerly employed him.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @emptywheel: Part of the art of writing such “fiction” is in disclosing tradecraft with verisimilitude but not too accurately, and in finding a few good guys among all the bad guys in government, corporations and organized crime. A lot of writing talent doesn’t hurt either.

  24. earlofhuntingdon says:

    @emptywheel: That would be a standard tactic in attempting to undercut someone’s credibility, while avoiding addressing that person’s claims. It’s getting out in front, an expression, really, of what Eisler in another context calls hitting early, hard and often. By mislabeling the author and/or his motives, he could be lumped into that ever useful bin labeled, “Disgruntled employee”.

  25. joanneleon says:

    @earlofhuntingdon: Why should we assume he was pissed off about something? Isn’t it equally plausible that he was offered a lot of money to do this by some political operatives on the right? I suppose it could also be a bit of both.

  26. tjallen says:

    I find it interesting that Bissonnette’s story has the killing of OBL as almost by accident, as OBL stuck his head out a door, and not an arrest or execution after carefully identifying him.

  27. MadDog says:

    On the issue of OBL not defending himself, as I mentioned earlier this week, I believe that OBL deliberately chose not to defend himself.

    I guess this is as good a time as any to explain why I think so.

    If Nicholas Schmidle’s piece was “mostly” accurate about the sequence of the OBL raid’s events, then the following:

    1) OBL and Company must have heard the 2 specially-modified Blackhawk helicopters arrive at the OBL compound (approximately 12:30-12:45 AM local Abbottabad time). Though these Black Hawk helicopters had been modified to be both stealthy to radar and quieter than normal Black Hawks, there is no way anyone will ever convince me that the arrival of 2 helicopters within 100 feet or so of the OBL compound would not have been heard by the compound’s occupants. The clock is now ticking.

    2) When Helo one crashed in the OBL compound, I would maintain that the OBL compound occupants were certain to have heard it! 22,000 lbs of stuff crashing less than 100 feet away is going to make a noise. More noise occurs when the tail rotor breaks off on the OBL compound brick wall. And even more noise occurs when the 400 RPM spinning main rotor blades hit the ground, snap off, and bang against everything nearby. The clock is still ticking.

    3) Helo one’s Seals extricate themselves from the crashed Black Hawk and proceed to use C-4 charges to blow not one, but two separate metal gates to get into the main part of the OBL compound. Blowing stuff up with C-4 charges tends to make a wee bit of noise. It also tends to take a wee bit of time to set the C-4 charges. The clock is still ticking.

    4) After “breaching” two walls (C-4 charges again?) Helo two’s Seals meetup with Helo one’s Seals as they all enter the ground floor of the main house. If the “breaching” was using C-4 charges again, more noise. The clock is still ticking.

    5) Some Seals go room to room to clear out the first floor. Others head for the second floor. More C-4 charges are used to blast the “metal gate [which] blocked the base of the staircase leading to the second floor”. More time to set the C-4 charges and more noise. The clock is still ticking.

    6) While moving up the stairs to the second floor, the Seals encounter OBL’s son, Khalid. Schmidle notes that the info he has is contradictory about whether Khalid was armed with an AK-47 and opened fire first or was unarmed. In either case, the Seals shot and killed him. The clock is still ticking.

    7) The Seals “blew open another metal cage, which obstructed the staircase leading to the third floor” taking more time to set the charges and making more noise.

    8) At this point, the operation as described by Schmidle diverges somewhat from that described by the Bissonnette, the Seal who was right there. Both indicate that a Seal shot at OBL who was peeking out. Bissonnette claims that it was a fatal shot.

    In any event, both acknowledge that OBL was not armed.

    The time that it took from the Black Hawks arrival until OBL’s demise had to have been no less than several minutes at the very least. If OBL had chosen to arm himself with weapons within a few feet of his reach, he most certainly had the time to do so.

    The noises of the helicopters’ arrival, the noise of Helo one’s crash and the amount of time it took for its Seals to extricate themselves from the downed copter, the breaching of metal gates taking more time and making more noise, the fact that “[a]n AK-47 and two pistols were found in the room”, all of this gave OBL more than sufficient time and the wherewithal to arm himself had he chosen to.

    Instead of Bissonnette’s macho-man “pussy” retort about finding OBL unarmed and unwilling to play “High Noon” with the Seals, I think that OBL deliberately chose to be unarmed.

    I think that OBL, if found, wanted to take the same route that KSM did. Captured alive, maybe interrogated/tortured, but eventually brought to trial where OBL envisioned mounting a stage to market his message for all the world to see.

  28. OrionATL says:

    @JTMinIA:

    thanks for raising the issue of manning. it seems to me extremely relevant here.

    the volume of disclosures is much, much less for bissonnete than manning, but the law isn’t written on volume; it is written on action or incident.

    for example, how much less exposure to the law do i have if i list one cia guy’s name vs if i list 10, or 47, cia guys’ names?

    the key here to whether or not a law is applied is always prosecutor’s judgment of what needs punishing.

  29. Ronald says:

    I was hoping that there would be at least one comment besides mine registering skepticism that the Obama administration killed OBL. There are reliable reports that OBL died in Dec 2001–yes, 2001. And that people like Pres Bush Jr, Oliver North and other reliables understood and said publicly that he died before the end of 2001. He was a sick man, dialysis and so on.
    David Ray Griffin years ago wrote a whole book about it.
    Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive?
    I don’t believe that OBL had anything to do with 9/11; he vigorously denied the charge before he died.
    I’m still looking for someone to explain how the Twin Towers came down near the speed of gravity in their own footprint; and how Building 7 ditto and looked exactly like controlled demolition — as Dan Rather pointed out live on TV.
    In that case, OBL could not have done it.
    Ronald

  30. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: In an updated AP piece by Kimberly Dozier (with contributions by Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman) Bissonnette himself confirms my observation about OBL having more than sufficient time to arm himself:

    “…The SEALS, according to Bissonnette’s description, were prepared as they had been in other raids for a gunfight in close quarters, which likely would last only a few seconds, with no margin for error. By the time the SEALs reached the top floor of bin Laden’s compound, roughly 15 minutes had passed, giving the terror leader adequate time to strap on a suicide vest or get a gun, he said…”

    What Bissonnette doesn’t do is give any real thought as to why OBL didn’t arm himself. That is a telling commentary about the intellectual qualities and depth of thought of Bissonnette himself that I expect to see his co-author Kevin Maurer (real author) attempt to airbrush away.

  31. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: And Joby Warrick of the WaPo comes to the very same conclusion:

    Ex-SEAL’s book says Osama bin Laden made no attempt to defend himself in raid

    “Osama bin Laden hid in his bedroom for at least 15 minutes as Navy SEALs battled their way through his Pakistani compound, making no attempt to arm himself before a U.S. commando shot him as he peeked from his doorway, according to the first published account by a participant in the now-famous raid on May 2, 2011…

    [snip]

    …[A]ccording to the book, the SEALs decided to take no chances as they confronted the dark-bearded man who peered at them from his doorway on the villa’s third floor. By then, the raid was 15 minutes old and the occupants of the house had long been alerted to the presence of the team after multiple shootouts and the explosions from door-breaching charges on the lower floors…”

  32. pdaly says:

    @MadDog:

    Well done timeline, MadDog, ticking clock and all.
    I can see how the team members could think that bin Laden would have the time to strap on a bomb vest with your review of the stages it took to get to his floor.

    But that makes this passage quoted by the Huffington Post harder to understand:
    “trained our lasers on his chest and fired several rounds. The bullets tore into him, slamming his body into the floor until he was motionless.”

    Wouldn’t the team members be concerned about tearing through the bombs in the bomb vest, too?
    Or had they already peeked under bin Laden’s sleeveless white shirt and then shot him up?

  33. MadDog says:

    @pdaly: Given the details in this part of the account in Kimberly Dozier’s piece, I would hazard a guess that they knew OBL wasn’t wired to blow:

    “…The author writes that the man ducked back into his bedroom and the SEALs followed, only to find him 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. Once they wiped the blood off his face, they were convinced it was bin Laden.

    Bissonnette says the point man pulled the two women out of the way and shoved them into a corner. He and the other SEALs trained their guns’ laser sights on bin Laden’s still-twitching body, shooting him several times until he lay motionless…”

    Some might say that Bissonnette & Company were giving a fatally wounded OBL mercy by shooting him a second time and putting him out of his misery, but to me it sounds cold, deliberate, and vengeful.

  34. pdaly says:

    @MadDog:

    Vengeful. I agree.

    Reminds me of the ‘kill or capture’ plan for that drone that decided to kill instead of capture al Awlaki in Yemen.

  35. petetheg says:

    Can somebody tell me briefly what’s going on here? Obama isn’t claiming that HE, personally, got Bin Laden, is he? Eisenhower didn’t claim that HE, personally, took Normandy. None of these leader guys, unless he’s an incredible jerk, pretends that HE, personally, won the victory. A John Wayne guy would never say, “Yeah, Pilgrim, I built it all myself.” Nor would a Jimmy Stewart guy, or an Audie Murphy guy. Obama is a Jimmy Stewart guy, I think.

    You don’t write John Wayne saying, “Why yes, yes, I’ve been very successful.” Any red-blooded American audience would laugh out loud.

  36. bmaz says:

    @emptywheel: Yep, I tend to agree it was DOD payback at heart. But, really, I cannot believe but that many of the SEALS are anything other than pissed about the breach of code. Take your pick.

  37. bmaz says:

    @joanneleon: Right. The potential of glory and profit is just as strong, or stronger, than the other plausible scenarios. And it is not necessarily just one motivation, there may well be a combination at play.

  38. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: Kimberly Dozier of the AP has now changed the sequence of events she reports that Bissonnette writes. Note how the difference in sequence appears to markedly change the tenor of OBL’s killing.

    Now Dozier reports:

    “…The author writes that the man ducked back into his bedroom and the SEALs followed, only to find him 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. He and the other SEALs trained their guns’ laser sights on bin Laden’s still-twitching body, shooting him several times until he lay motionless.

    Once they wiped the blood off his face, they were convinced it was bin Laden…”

    As I directly quoted Dozier’s reporting last night, Dozier first reported that Bissonnette wrote that the Seals first wiped the blood from OBL’s face and then proceeded to fire the final shots.

    Now Dozier reports that Bissonnette wrote that the Seals fired the final shots and only then wiped the blood from OBL’s face.

    That’s a big difference! And I wonder how it failed to occur to Kimberly Dozier in the first place. Or was it the fault of her AP editors? No indication of a correction was acknowledged in the latest version of Dozier’s piece.

  39. Frank33 says:

    Perhaps, the Military can see through walls. That would have been a big help in the successful raid to kill Bin Laden, former CIA Gangsta and Hedge Fund Manager. The President ordered the raid, and yes he gets credit or he gets the blame.

    The military and Special Ops are effective and deadly against America’s enemies. It is not known who those enemies actually are, because that is classified. But we should also thank Pakistan’s ISI and Military for standing down during the raid.

    It is disturbing that “Ownens” and other Special Operators display so much insubordination to the Commander in Chief. The President has supported and even escalated the wars abroad and the War against the Resistance in the Homeland.

    When wars go bad, the people who profit from the wars blame the people who are against the wars. These wars have been going bad for years. Now OpSec, former spies and assassins, has blamed the Leakers and antiwar activists.

    OpSec is not a funny forger such as Andrew Breitbart. They are trained killers and trained propagandists who are looking for someone to punish.

  40. Frank33 says:

    The Government’s persecution of Bradley Manning is so weak, they have a new PsyOps against him. Manning was punished for posting a YouTube video. He was required to make a PowerPoint presentation. The Horror!

    Manning’s punishment for the YouTube video included having to present a power point presentation in which he explained what amounted to classified information and what would constitute a security breach.

    But this revelation is probably classifed information!

  41. tjallen says:

    @MadDog: MadDog I have noticed that also about AP stories. The first story to come out will be followed by several more with the same title and author, but the facts will change, disappear or be re-arranged several times. Which version is definitive? Or final? Which should be quoted? These are NOT listed as “corrections” which the AP has a process for, and for which “Correction” appears in the title.

    Here is the AP RAW NEWS stories page, and you can often find several stories, over a few hours, exhibiting this unnerving tendency.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/fronts/RAW?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME

  42. bmaz says:

    Calling it a “PsyOps” is ludicrous. It is an attempt to seek admissibility of prior bad act evidence under Rule 404(b) of the Military Rules of Evidence, which reads:

    (b) Other crimes, wrongs, or acts. Evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove the character of a person in order to show action in conformity therewith. It may, however, be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity , intent, preparation, plan, knowledge , identity, or absence of mistake or accident, provided, that upon request by the accused, the prosecution shall provide reasonable notice in advance of trial, or during trial if the military judge excuses pretrial notice on good cause shown, of the general nature of any such evidence it intends to introduce at trial.

    This type of evidence is very much not favored in UCMJ proceedings, and there will be a very high burden of showing relevance; it is unlikely they gain admission.

  43. Bill Michtom says:

    @bmaz “You don’t think it took a lot of balls for Obama to greenlight this operation??”

    Not in the least. Why do you? Where was the downside? Even alleged liberals were cheering over the act of war and the assassination.

  44. bmaz says:

    @Bill Michtom: I think it took tons. If it goes south, you have a Desert One type of humiliating publicity nightmare on your hands, you have a bunch of dead SEALS, possibly a miniature war with a supposed ally, loss of what little respect you had from the military, and you just generally look like feckless shit. There was tremendous, almost incalculable, downside if it went badly south. And, no matter how it would be attempted to be spun, the entire lead weight would have fallen on Obama.

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