Former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette's firsthand account of the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's hideout won't hit bookstores until Sept. 4, but The Associated Press and The Huffington Post have obtained copies in advance — and revealed some juicy details. Bissonnette, who wrote No Easy Day under the pseudonym "Mark Owen" before being swiftly unmasked by Fox News, contradicts some aspects of the White House's account of how bin Laden was killed, and dishes on how he and his former SEAL Team 6 comrades really feel about President Obama. Here, five revelations from the early reports on Bissonnette's book:
1. An unarmed bin Laden was shot instantly...
In the immediate aftermath of the raid, the White House suggested that a shootout led to the al Qaeda mastermind's death. Later, the Obama administration's story evolved, with officials saying that bin Laden had ducked into his third-floor bedroom and reached for a gun. But Bissonnette writes that he was behind the lead SEAL moving upstairs when he saw bin Laden poke his head out of his bedroom door into the pitch black hallway. Bin Laden was immediately shot in the head. There were two unloaded guns — an AK-47 and a pistol — inside the room. "He hadn't even prepared a defense," Bissonnette says. "He had no intention of fighting. He asked his followers for decades to wear suicide vests or fly planes into buildings, but didn't even pick up his weapon."
2. ...Even though SEALS were told not to assassinate him
Bissonnette's claim that bin Laden posed no clear threat could raise uncomfortable questions for the administration about whether this was a case of "extrajudicial murder," says Max Read at Gawker. Indeed, Bissonnette says the commando team was told explicitly by a lawyer that "this wasn't an assassination." He quotes the lawyer as saying: "I am not going to tell you how to do your job. What we're saying is if he does not pose a threat, you will detain him." Still, when the author and another SEAL entered bin Laden's room, where two women were wailing over bin Laden's body as he lay mortally wounded, the SEALs verified his identity, then reportedly pumped several more bullets into his chest.
3. Some SEALs resent Obama for taking credit
The author makes an effort to praise "the president for green-lighting the risky assault," says Marcus Baram at The Huffington Post, even though Bissonnette says that "none of us were huge fans of Obama." The SEALs didn't like that the president took credit for the raid. "I can see him now, talking about how he killed bin Laden," Bissonnette quotes another SEAL as saying. "We all knew the deal," Bissonnette says. "We were tools in the toolbox, and when things go well they promote it. They inflate their roles." Still, he says, "regardless of the politics that would come along with it, the end result was what we all wanted."
4. And Obama reneged on his promise of beer
Bissonnette says that in a meeting with SEAL Team 6 members, President Obama invited them to have a beer with him at the White House sometime in the future. "We never got the call," the former special forces member says. Bissonnette adds that he joked with a fellow SEAL, "Hey, did you ever hear anything about that beer?" The SEAL cracks: "You believed that shit. I bet you voted for change too, sucker."
5. Joe Biden tells lame jokes like a "drunken uncle"
Bissonnette, apparently, is also not a fan of Vice President Joe Biden. He writes of meeting Biden and Obama at the headquarters of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment after the raid, says The Associated Press, and was unimpressed. Biden, Bissonnette says, told "lame jokes" no one understood, reminding him of "someone's drunken uncle at Christmas dinner."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The U.S. Marines are developing laser weapons. Here's why.
- Why the Supreme Court is allowing Texas to hold an unconstitutional election
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How 1,000-year lifespans could remake the economy
- Ban PowerPoint!
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Gamergate has backfired spectacularly on its nincompoop perpetrators
- Rise of the machines
Subscribe to the Week