WASHINGTON ‚?? A firsthand account of the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden contradicts previous accounts by administration officials, raising questions as to whether the terror mastermind presented a clear threat when SEALs first fired upon him.
Bin Laden apparently was shot in the head when he looked out of his bedroom door into the top-floor hallway of his compound as SEALs rushed up a narrow stairwell in his direction, according to former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette, writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen in ‚??No Easy Day.‚?Ě The book is to be published next week by Penguin Group (USA)‚??s Dutton imprint.
Bissonnette says he was directly behind a point man going up the stairs in the pitch black hallway. Near the top, he said, he heard two shots, but the book doesn‚??t make it clear who fired them. He wrote that the point man had seen a man peeking out of a door.
The author writes the man ducked back into his bedroom. The SEALs found him crumpled on the floor with a hole visible on the right side of his head and two women wailing over his body. After wiping blood from his face, they were certain it was bin Laden.
Bissonnette says the point man pulled the two women out of the way. He and the other SEALs then shot a still twitching bin Laden several times until he lay motionless. The SEALs later found two untouched weapons stored by the doorway, the author said.
Administration officials briefing reporters in the days after the May 2011 raid in Pakistan said the SEALs shot bin Laden only after he ducked back into the bedroom because they assumed he might be reaching for a weapon.
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor would not comment on the apparent contradiction late Tuesday. But he said in an email Wednesday, ‚??As President Obama said on the night that justice was brought to Osama bin Laden, ‚??We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country.‚?? ‚?Ě