How credible is the author of 'No Easy Day'?
In his book and in a TV interview, the author of 'No Easy Day' describes the killing of Osama bin Laden and the efforts to identify the body. Fellow SEALs call the book account 'first hand.'
Heavily disguised with makeup, Mr. Bissonnette discussed the book Sunday on "60 Minutes," in which he reports surveying a grievously wounded man and trying to determine whether it was, in fact, bin Laden. ‚ÄúIn his death throes, he was still twitching and convulsing,‚ÄĚ he writes.
Bissonnette then describes what happened next: ‚ÄúAnother assaulter and I trained our lasers on his chest and fired several rounds.‚ÄĚ
With that, America‚Äôs No. 1 enemy was killed by the US Navy‚Äôs SEAL Team 6.¬†
Hours later, President Obama would announce bin Laden‚Äôs demise on national television.
The former Navy SEAL then describes how a fellow assaulter squirted water from his CamelBak hose onto bin Laden‚Äôs face to clear away blood so that the SEALs could better recognize him for identification purposes.
‚ÄúI started to wipe the blood away from his face using a blanket from the bed,‚ÄĚ Bissonnette tells readers. ‚ÄúWith each swipe, the face became more familiar. He was younger than I expected.‚ÄĚ
Rather than grey, bin Laden‚Äôs beard was¬†black. Bissonnette reports later finding a box of ‚ÄúJust for Men‚ÄĚ hair dye in bin Laden‚Äôs bathroom.
The SEALs took photos with two different cameras, and collected duplicate samples of blood and saliva. They tried to use ‚Äúa spring-loaded syringe the CIA gave us to get a blood-marrow sample,‚ÄĚ he recalls, but the spring-load mechanism didn't work.¬†
Copies of the photos and samples went to two SEALs traveling on two different helicopters, so that if one was shot down, Bissonnette explains, the evidence of bin Laden‚Äôs death would survive.
So, are all of these details plausible?¬†
While fellow Navy SEALs have taken issue with Bissonnette‚Äôs decision to publish the details of the raid in his memoirs, few have taken issue with the details themselves.
A group of former US Special Operations Forces and intelligence operatives offer their own take on Bissonnette‚Äôs memoir in their own account, ‚ÄúNo Easy Op: The Unclassified Analysis of the Book Detailing the Killing of OBL.‚ÄĚ¬†Their conclusion: The book is ‚Äúvery significant.‚ÄĚ
The authors, who are contributing editors for the Special Operations Forces Situation Report (SOFREP), an internet publication, add that the book is ‚Äúwritten by someone who experienced the event first-hand.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúPeople who say, ‚ÄėIt‚Äôs a grunt‚Äôs perspective,‚Äô are wrong. ‚ÄėGrunt‚Äô is Army or USMC [US Marine Corps] slang for an infantryman, and the author, a US Navy SEAL, is a sailor, not a soldier,‚ÄĚ they explain.‚ÄúBut accuracy of terms aside, ‚Äėa grunt‚Äôs perspective‚Äô doesn‚Äôt come close to doing the book justice. It‚Äôs a warrior‚Äôs perspective, complete with the raw, nostril-burning stink of death.‚ÄĚ¬†
The Pentagon for its part differs with Bissonnette on a key part of the account. While defense officials report that bin Laden was killed in his bedroom, Bissonnette says the Al Qaeda mastermind was first shot in a hallway, when he peeked around a corner.
Therefore, he was already gravely injured--not on the run--when SEALs delivered the ‚Äúdouble tap‚ÄĚ that killed him.
Pentagon officials have said they are investigating legal action against Bissonnette, who did not submit his book to the Defense Department for review.¬†
For their part, though the Special Operations vets who wrote ‚ÄúNo Easy Op‚ÄĚ say Bissonnette would have been ‚Äúbest-served‚ÄĚ by consenting to the official review ‚Äúeven if this would have meant delaying the book‚Äôs publication ‚Äď which it surely would have,‚ÄĚ they also sympathized with his decision not to.
‚ÄúIt has been our experience as writers that DOD reviews are painfully long and typically are more concerned with removing information that might make senior leadership look bad than with ensuring operational security [OPSEC],‚ÄĚ they note.
‚ÄúSuch a review would have come with intense scrutiny,‚ÄĚ they add, ‚Äúand put the integrity of the story at risk.‚ÄĚ