The official U.S. administration version
of the raid on Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad Pakistan is that the Navy SEALs shot bin Laden only after he had ducked back into the bedroom. The SEALS assumed that he might be reaching for a weapon and so shot him on opening the door.
The White House response to the apparent contradiction does not answer it at all but is simply a repetition of Obama's praise for the Seals. White House spokesperson Tommy Vietor
"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."'
This is typical of official political commentary these days. It does not respond to the question but is meant to elicit the proper positive response from the public.
Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette
writing under the pseudonym Mark Owen wrote his own account of the Bin Laden raid in his book No Easy Day. The book is to be published next week under the Dutton imprint by Penguin (USA). Bissonnette claims that he was directly behind the "point man" as they climbed the stairs. Less than five steps from the top Bissonnette heard gunfire. The point man reportedly saw a man peeking out the door on the right of the hallway.
When Bin Laden ducked back in to what was a bedroom the SEALS followed. Bin Laden was crumpled on the floor in a pool of blood. There was a hole visible on the right side of his head and two women were wailing by the body.
The SEALs shoved the women away into a corner and then trained their sights on Bin Laden's still twitching body and shot him several times until he remained motionless. Later two weapons were found by the doorway but they had not been touched. This story would seem to confirm what many analysts had already thought. The aim of the mission was simply to kill Bin Laden and that during the raid Bin Laden had not been a threat to the SEALS.
Bissonnette however claims that before the raid a lawyer informed them that they were not on an assassination mission. Bissonnette maintains that the lawyer said that if Bin Laden were not a threat they should "detain hiim". Yet Bissonnette's account shows that Bin Laden was not a threat when they finished him off. Perhaps the SEALS decided that being so badly wounded it was best to make sure Bin Laden was dead.
Another part of Bissonnette's account concerns treatment of the body. Bissonette claims that a SEAL sat on Bin Laden's chest as the body lay in the middle of the helicopter taking them to a third helicopter inside Pakistan. It should be noted that space was quite limited as one helicopter had crashed at the scene.
Apparently none of the SEALs were Obama fans although they respected him as commander in chief for giving the go ahead for the raid. They were even less enthused about the vice-president Joe Biden.
Bissonnette's book did not have the formal review that the Pentagon requires for any volume published by former or current Defence Department employees. This is somewhat surprising. One would think that publisher's would ensure that this would happen or that all those snoops who are collecting information about everything would alert the Pentagon that the book was to be published.
The author claims he did not disclose confidential or sensitive information that would compromise national security in any way. However, officials from the Pentagon and CIA are apparently checking the book for any disclosure of classified information. Legal action could even be taken against Bissonette. No doubt Bissonette will by then have plenty of money to help pay his legal expenses.
Giving an account of the raid that is at variance with the official version of events seems to me prima facie evidence that Bissonnette has revealed classified information. However prosecution might be too embarrassing for the administration. After all, Bissonnette is one of those patriotic, professionals with great courage whom Obama praised as serving the U.S.