Do We Finally Have The Real Story of bin Laden's Death?

You may recall that the White House released roughly 35 different versions of its story about the mission that took out Osama bin Laden.  (That’s not an exaggeration – they were revising the story every couple of hours.)  A new book from former SEAL Team Six commander Chuck Pfarrer says that none of the Administration’s stories gave us the full truth, and he’s not happy about it.

Pfarrer’s upcoming book, “SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden, has already caused a huge stir in Washington.  The author claims to have gotten his details straight from the SEALs who pulled off the incredible Operation Neptune’s Spear, as related by the New York Post:

The accounts in the book — which differ from the official government version in many details — come from the very SEALS who were on the mission, to whom Pfarrer had special access.

“This book is for the amazing guys who deserve better and the American people who deserve to know better,” the author, who claims he was involved in SEAL preparations leading up to the raid, told The Post.

However, CNN talked to unnamed “U.S. officials” and a Special Operations Command spokesman who dispute Pfarrer’s sourcing:

Every member of the Navy SEAL team on the raid has been questioned by superiors about whether they spoke to author Chuck Pfarrer, a former Navy Seal, about the mission in violation of orders, a U.S. official told CNN.

The official, who has direct knowledge of the questioning, told CNN that the SEALs all denied speaking with Pfarrer, whose book, “SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to kill Osama bin Laden,” is scheduled to be released next week.

“Neither USSOCOM nor any of its elements have provided access to or given permission for any member or members of Special Operations Forces to be interviewed about the operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden,” said command spokesman Ken McGraw.  “To the best of my knowledge, neither USSOCOM nor any of it elements have reviewed the book “Seal Target Geronimo.”

Two other U.S. military officials also confirmed to CNN that no military personnel were granted permission to talk to Pfarrer.

Pfarrer says he engaged in some “dramatic reconstruction” of events, particularly meetings held in Washington, in order to protect the identities of his sources, but insists his book will reveal the true story of the raid for the first time. 

While the official story maintains the SEALs were dispatched on a “kill mission” and fought their way to bin Laden in a massive 45-minute firefight, Pfarrer says they actually got dropped on the roof of bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, nailed the old monster in 90 seconds flat, and would have taken him alive if he had been willing to surrender.  According to the New York Post’s account of the Pfarrer book, bin Laden wasn’t in a surrendering mood:

As they entered the room, the blinding lights of their weapons illuminated two figures — bin Laden and the youngest of his four wives, Amal.

The woman was shouting, “No, no, don’t do this . . . It’s not him!”

Contrary to a May 3 statement from the White House — which said bin Laden was not armed — he did have a gun, Pfarrer writes. He was not carrying it, however; it was lying by the headboard.

When he saw the SEALs, he lunged to grab it.

He used his wife as a human shield, by shoving her at the SEALs. Then he scampered across the bed where the AKSU machine pistol was lying.

“The man was moving toward the bed, just reaching it, diving across it — but all of this seemed to be unfolding like a slide show: click, click, click,” the book says.

Then four shots were fired: two rounds and two rounds.

“The first round sailed past Osama’s face and thudded into the mattress. Osama shoved Amal as he clawed across the bed. A second bullet, aimed at Osama’s head, grazed Amal in the calf,” the book says.

As his wife crouched, wounded, bin Laden continued to reach for his gun. He never made it.

“Two US Navy M855 5.56mm Predator bullets slammed into him. One struck him next to his breastbone, blowing apart his aorta. The last bullet went through his skull, killing him instantly,” the book says.

A grand total of 12 bullets were fired by the SEALs during the raid.  The book claims the stealth super-helicopter that crashed during the raid went down after dropping the SEALs on bin Laden’s roof, another variation from the official account.

Another NY Post article quotes Pfarrer saying, “The further I got away from the Beltway, the more accurate information I got.”  He’s upset that President Obama rushed to announce the raid and play it for political advantage, instead of giving the military time to process intelligence from the mission and move against other al-Qaeda leaders:

President Obama’s role, too, was largely inflated.

He was out playing golf only 20 minutes before the raid began.

“If this had completely gone south, he was in a position to disavow,” Pfarrer claimed.

The Telegraph of Australia has more thoughts along these lines from the former SEAL Team Six commander:

He said the men were angry with President Barack Obama for announcing Bin Laden’s death on TV just hours after they completed the mission on May 1.

“There isn’t a politician in the world who could resist trying to take credit for getting Bin Laden but it devalued the ‘intel’ and gave time for every other Al-Qaeda leader to scurry to another bolthole,” he said.

“The men who did this and their valorous act deserve better. It’s a pretty shabby way to treat these guys.”

If Pfarrer’s book is a big hit, it could put a real crimp in Obama’s attempts to use Operation Neptune’s Spear as campaign material in 2012.  Politicians have two important roles in special ops missions: they authorize them, and they screw up the aftermath.  The media narrative put forth by the White House was already pretty shaky.  Americans can understand a degree of official obfuscation in the service of protecting national security secrets… but they don’t like being lied to by politicians scrambling to write a heroic narrative for themselves.