Meet the man who shot Bin Laden

posted at 4:41 pm on February 11, 2013 by Allahpundit

I want to call this the feelgood story of the day but it’s the opposite. There are feelgood moments — Bin Laden ends up with a few extra postmortem bullet holes, and don’t miss the conversation the SEALs have on their way to the first briefing about the mission — but ultimately it’s the tale of a hero abandoned. No pension(!), no health care(!!), family troubles, little help transitioning to the private sector, and eternal worry about reprisals from jihadis. Everyone wishes they could have been the one to pull the trigger on Osama; see how you feel about that after the Esquire piece.

If you read only one eyewitness account today of the leader of Al Qaeda taking three bullets in the face, let it be this one.

The SEALs had nightscopes, but it was coal-black for bin Laden and the other residents. He can hear but he can’t see.

He looked confused. And way taller than I was expecting. He had a cap on and didn’t appear to be hit. I can’t tell you 100 percent, but he was standing and moving. He was holding her in front of him. Maybe as a shield, I don’t know.

For me, it was a snapshot of a target ID, definitely him. Even in our kill houses where we train, there are targets with his face on them. This was repetition and muscle memory. That’s him, boom, done.

I thought in that first instant how skinny he was, how tall and how short his beard was, all at once. He was wearing one of those white hats, but he had, like, an almost shaved head. Like a crew cut. I remember all that registering. I was amazed how tall he was, taller than all of us, and it didn’t seem like he would be, because all those guys were always smaller than you think.

I’m just looking at him from right here [he moves his hand out from his face about ten inches]. He’s got a gun on a shelf right there, the short AK he’s famous for. And he’s moving forward. I don’t know if she’s got a vest and she’s being pushed to martyr them both. He’s got a gun within reach. He’s a threat. I need to get a head shot so he won’t have a chance to clack himself off [blow himself up].

In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! The second time as he’s going down. He crumpled onto the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again, Bap! same place. That time I used my EOTech red-dot holo sight. He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out. I watched him take his last breaths, just a reflex breath.

And I remember as I watched him breathe out the last part of air, I thought: Is this the best thing I’ve ever done, or the worst thing I’ve ever done?

The thought of Bin Laden standing there in the dark, disoriented, hearing the gunshots and melting with dread at what might be coming, is a small but satisfying bit of poetic justice for what people trapped in the Towers endured. Then, the shots. Quote: “His forehead was gruesome. It was split open in the shape of a V. I could see his brains spilling out over his face. The American public doesn’t want to know what that looks like.” I’m … not so sure that’s true, but okay. He ends up back at the base in Afghanistan, eating a breakfast sandwich while standing next to Bin Laden’s body and watching Obama announce the killing on TV. He gives the CIA agent who helped find Bin Laden, a woman you already know, the magazine that was in his gun when he shot him. Later, he retires from the service after 16 years (four short of pension eligibility), returns to civilian life, and has to cope with near-zero support from the government. Which, I assume, is why he’s talking about this now: It’s too dangerous to identify himself, as lucrative as that would be, but by publicizing his situation maybe he can shame the feds into doing better by their elite veterans.

Exit question: How can the guy who shot Bin Laden not be eligible for military health insurance?


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Turning this guy into a celebrity is a mistake. And he is an idiot for putting his name/face out there.

Have fun looking over your shoulder for the rest of your days. You might want to inquire about the Witness Relocation Program.

Moesart on February 12, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Turning this guy into a celebrity is a mistake. And he is an idiot for putting his name/face out there.

Moesart on February 12, 2013 at 2:02 PM

His face and name aren’t out there. No photos and no name.

dentarthurdent on February 12, 2013 at 2:14 PM

His face and name aren’t out there. No photos and no name.

dentarthurdent on February 12, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Only a temporary condition. The author of the article and some of his comrades in “journalism” know the name. It’s only a matter of time.

And I’d bet even odds al Qaeda already knows it. And probably some foreign governments.

farsighted on February 12, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Turning this guy into a celebrity is a mistake. And he is an idiot for putting his name/face out there.

Moesart on February 12, 2013 at 2:02 PM

His face and name aren’t out there. No photos and no name.

dentarthurdent on February 12, 2013 at 2:14 PM

But it did indeed turn him into a celebrity, as Moesart correctly noted. And if you read the whole article, you would no doubt also concede that there are a few “personal identifiers” about the Shooter described therein.

The story also turned the author, Phil Bronstein, into a considerable publicity seeker, and as he now quite publicly pursues his apparently new-found mission of seeking additional financial and physical security for the Shooter and his family, and other warriors similarly situated, he may have unwittingly opened the door to exposing the Shooter, and himself to considerable additional risk.

Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I’d not be opposed in any way to a truly generous accommodation for the Shooter, or those similarly situated . . . but turning this into a public cause is, I think, a mistake.

We have been, and will continue to be dealing for the foreseeable future with a fringe of people adhering to an ideology which encourages and practices endless personal warfare and revenge-seeking, that goes by the name of “jihad.”

To some extent the notion of “blood lust” and endless revenge has been thankfully missing from the American lexicon for most of our history, though it was ever-present in the storied past, even of many of our European roots. The notion that “the South will rise again” simply never materialized because one of the secrets of American success — even following great conflicts that divided us — was that we always found a way to move on. But for the jihadists amongst us, no more!

The downside of that absence has been that many Americans simply have no idea what it can mean for the future.

When you get around to reading the entire story, dentarthurdent, please note the final few lines penned by Mr. Bronstein.

. . .
The supper table is suddenly flooded with the surge of strong emotions. Anguish, really, though they both hide it well. This is not a movie. It’s real life, where death is final and threats last forever.

The blood is your own, not fake splatter and explosive squibs.

Movies, books, lore — we all helped make these men brilliant assassins in the name of liberty, lifted them up on our shoulders as unique and exquisitely trained heroes, then left them alone in the shadows of their past.

Uncertainty will never be far away for the Shooter. His government may have shut the door on him, but he is required to live inside the consequences of his former career.

One line from the film kept resonating in my head.

An actor playing a CIA station chief warns Maya about jihadi vengeance.

“Once you’re on their list,” he says, “you never get off.”

(My emphasis)

What Bronstein may not recognize is the potential that he represents as someone who has had up-close and personal contact.

Finally, I also have some lingering doubts about the curious timing of the publication of this article, given the fact that — in addition to retelling the Abbottabad raid story — the author was also critical of the U.S. government response to those who so clearly put themselves on the line. The piece made it quite clear that the interviews were conducted back in May, in the spring of 2012, up to September. Why was publication held until now?

Trochilus on February 12, 2013 at 3:49 PM

AQ should just come and take him away for being so damn stupid. He’s no SEAL, and if he was I’m sure he was forced out because he was a detriment to the team.

stacman on February 12, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Trochilus on February 12, 2013 at 3:49 PM

I’ve read the article, and none of what you posted changes my primary point / opinion – which is that this whole story is a fake.
I believe this radical left-wing writer (look up his background) either made it all up, or he was a sucker for a stolen valor type fraudster. I believe we will find out the truth fairly soon.

dentarthurdent on February 12, 2013 at 5:35 PM

. . .
I believe this radical left-wing writer (look up his background) either made it all up, or he was a sucker for a stolen valor type fraudster. I believe we will find out the truth fairly soon.
dentarthurdent on February 12, 2013 at 5:35 PM

Well, thanks for offering us nothing in the way of a basis for your opinion — other than saying you believe you are right.

To quote a wag from some years ago, “Some people believe they’ve seen a chicken with lips.”

Trochilus on February 12, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Well, thanks for offering us nothing in the way of a basis for your opinion — other than saying you believe you are right.

To quote a wag from some years ago, “Some people believe they’ve seen a chicken with lips.”

Trochilus on February 12, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Go read the 20 or 30 other posts I’ve put on this thread and the other related thread. I’ve been at this since yesterday morning – and you’re jumping in at the end saying I have no basis for my opinion? Really?

dentarthurdent on February 12, 2013 at 6:46 PM

I’ve done 15 years… I want to get out and get my retirement too… B.S. You do 20, you get your retirement. That’s how it works. As for disability, sounds like he didn’t file the right paperwork. Sounds like he “pencil-whipped” his mandatory ACAP (or navy quivalent) briefings… which would have told him all that he is eligible (or NOT eligible for).

But he was a SEAL… he doesn’t have time for such briefings…. Oops!

BadBrad on February 13, 2013 at 11:34 PM

Heck, I bet he’ll be lucky to get an ObamaPhone. Unreal.

johnnyU on February 14, 2013 at 5:00 AM

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