The PJ Tatler

Bin Laden 'Died Like a Pussy' Says SEAL Who Claims Fatal Shot

The unseemly row among our special operators precipitated by former SEAL Team Six member Robert O’Neil’s claims that he fired the fatal shot that killed Osama Bin Laden continued to play out in the press as other SEALs disputed his claims and criticized him for going public.

The Daily Beast is reporting that other special operators who took part in the raid say that O’Neil is “misstating key facts” and “wrongly taking credit” for killing Bin Laden.

Sources who know and worked with O’Neill, who was first identified by the special operations blog SOFREP, said his version of events showed cracks almost from the night of the raid itself. One former special operations official said that O’Neill didn’t identify himself as the main shooter in the “hot wash” debriefing that operators conducted immediately after the raid at an air base in Afghanistan. But upon his return stateside, O’Neill identified himself as the trigger-man to members of the public while drinking in some favorite SEAL bars in Virginia Beach, VA. (This account was independently verified by a second source.) O’Neill’s behavior prompted his superiors to counsel him that the operation was classified, the former official said.

This much seems beyond dispute. O’Neill was one of three men who fired at the fugitive terrorist in the moments before he died. The two others SEALs were Bissonnette and a third shooter whom multiple sources referred to as the “point man,” because he was standing at the front of the team of SEALs as they climbed a staircase and approached bin Laden’s bedroom on the upper floor of his safe house.

The lure of celebrity and book advances is apparently too strong to overcome for some. Leaders of the Naval Special Warfare Command released a letter asking their men to remember who they are and what they’re about:

“We will not abide willful or selfish disregard for our core values in return for public notoriety and financial gain, which only diminishes otherwise honorable service, courage and sacrifice,” said the letter signed by Rear Adm. Brian Losey and Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci on Oct. 31.

Analysts and former Navy SEALs say some are seduced by the celebrity status that has been conferred on them in recent years. The SEALs have been the subject of Hollywood films, video games and books.

A group of SEALs was recently disciplined for consulting on the computer game Medal of Honor: Warfighter.

Hollywood has produced a string of movies portraying SEALs in a heroic light, including Zero Dark Thirty, which chronicled the bin Laden mission, and Captain Phillips, which portrayed their role in killing pirates and rescuing a ship captain.

Their celebrity status has overshadowed other special operations forces within the Marine Corps, Army and Air Force, Couch said. It wasn’t always the case. During Vietnam, few people had heard of the Navy SEALs. It was the Green Berets who captured the public’s imagination, helped by John Wayne’s starring role in the 1968 movie about the Army special forces.

Today’s tsunami of coverage on SEALs presents a far greater temptation to cash out or otherwise capitalize on the public interest.

The Pentagon said they are expected to resist the urge. Revelations from the special operations forces risks exposing classified information, given much of what they do is secret, said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

“There is an expectation inside that community, a code, that they ascribe to that they will not seek recognition for what they do, they will not seek financial gain from what they do,” Kirby said Friday.

In an unpublished audio tape of interviews conducted between O’Neil and freelance writer Alex Quade, O’Neill gave a colorful description of how Bin Laden died and why he decided to go public:

Osama bin Laden “died like a pussy” who “knew we were there to kill him,” says ex-Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill, who claims to have fired the lethal shots.

“You can quote me on this bull***t,” O’Neill said in previously-unreleased audio that aired on CNN Friday evening. The tape was recorded by freelance journalist Alex Quade.

O’Neill, who will give a tell-all interview to Fox News next week, claimed to have used details of the terrorist mastermind’s death to provide comfort to 9/11 families: “I tell them, ‘Alright, Osama bin Laden died like a pussy. That’s all I’m telling you. Just so you know. He died afraid. And he knew that we were there to kill him. And that’s closure.’”

“Regardless of the negativity that comes with it,” O’Neill added, “I don’t give a f**k. We got him.”

A decade ago I wrote a post on my blog paying homage to the SEALs following what is believed to be the worst day in their history: the loss of 11 SEALs on a mission in Afghanistan (another 8 “Nightstalker” members were also killed). At that time, few details of the operation were available. Nevertheless, I was awestruck by the courage and sacrifice displayed by the SEALs — something I learned was commonplace in the special operations community.

I also admired the fact that they eschewed public acclaim, even though many of their operations have been memorialized on TV and in films. It should be noted that most SEALs maintain their silence and anonymity. But those few who don’t — who seek the exposure and Klieg lights of celebrity — bring shame on their comrades and the entire special operations community.

O’Neil may be a charlatan. But beyond that, he is a cynic. He is motivated by some very unSEAL-like attributes — greed and glory. My hero worship of SEALs was probably misplaced. But it’s still a downer to realize that for all their gifts, they’re human after all.