Va. Beach former Navy SEAL to release book on bin Laden raid

Posted at 10:00 PM, Aug 23, 2012

(CNN) — A book company said Wednesday that it will release on September 11 a firsthand account of the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Christine Ball, director of marketing and publicity for Dutton, a subsidiary of Penguin Group USA, said the book was written by a Navy SEAL under a pen name.

Although CNN has confirmed the name of the SEAL, the network agreed not to publish his identity at the request of Pentagon officials who said the information might lead to other SEALs on the raid being identified through social media links.

After The Associated Press and Fox News reported the SEAL’s name online Thursday, many other websites, including The New York Times and USA Today, published his identity.

The book is entitled “No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden.”

The former Navy SEAL was on the Bin Laden raid, according to Pentagon officials. The 36-year-old chief petty officer left the Navy as a highly-decorated commando in April, but he could be subject to criminal prosecution, they said.

His military awards include five Bronze Stars with a special combat designation and a Purple Heart. He led others under fire at least seven times, Pentagon officials said.

The book account includes the stealth helicopter crash that could have killed the author and his teammates, his publisher said.

U.S. Special Operations Command has not reviewed the book or approved it, a Defense Department official said. Officials only recently became aware the former SEAL was writing a book but were told it encompasses more than just the raid and includes vignettes from training and other missions.

They would like to see a copy, the official said, to make sure no classified information is released or the book contains any information that might out one of the team members.

Officials have been told that some of the profits are going to charity.

About two dozen U.S. Special Operations members and two helicopters were involved in the raid early May 2, 2011, in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed bin Laden.

The raid occurred in a span of 38 minutes, after CIA reports of repeated sightings of a tall man doing “prison yard walks” around the yard of the housing compound in Abbottabad, which was under constant surveillance, an official said on condition of anonymity a few days after the raid.

U.S. authorities did not definitively determine beforehand that the man was bin Laden, but they eventually concluded that there was enough evidence to go through with the operation.

One helicopter made a hard landing when it apparently came too close to a wall. It landed inside the western side of the compound with its tail rotor over the southern wall.

The first man killed in the mission — which the U.S. official said was code-named Operation Neptune Spear — was the Kuwaiti courier who had worked for bin Laden. He was shot dead after a brief gunfight in a guest house. From that point on, it is believed no other shots were fired at the U.S. forces, the official said — which contrasts with early U.S. government reports describing the operation as a “firefight.”

The troops then moved into the compound’s three-story main building, where they shot and killed the courier’s brother. As they went upstairs and around barricades, one of bin Laden’s sons rushed at them and was killed. Neither of these men had weapons either on them or nearby, the official said.

The U.S. official said that the team then entered the third-floor room where bin Laden was, along with his Yemeni wife and several young children. The al Qaeda leader was moving, possibly toward one of the weapons that were in the room, when he was shot, first in the chest and then in the head. He never had a gun in hand but posed an imminent threat, according to the U.S. official.

Bin Laden’s body was flown to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, then in the North Arabian Sea. After DNA tests and further confirmations of his identity, he was buried at sea within 12 hours of his killing “in conformance with Islamic precepts and practices,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

President Obama met with some of the Navy SEALs, often referred to as SEAL Team Six and officially as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The U.S. raid, which was conducted without the knowledge of Pakistan, enraged the Pakistani public and embarrassed its military.

Three months later, 15 members of Seal Team Six were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal are working on a movie about the raid.

“Zero Dark Thirty” is about the decade-long hunt for bin Laden. Bigelow and Boal are the team behind the 2008 Oscar-winning film “The Hurt Locker.”

The new movie was said to be set for release just before the election, but after Republicans complained that it was a pro-Obama ad, it was pushed back until December. There is some dispute over whether it was ever meant for release before December.

The movie has been the focus of a Washington partisan fight since last summer.

The Pentagon’s inspector general began an inquiry after questions were raised by Rep. Peter King, R-New York.

He demanded investigations by the Department of Defense and CIA inspectors general into what, if any, classified information about Special Operations tactics, techniques and procedures were leaked to the filmmakers, calling the film a “potentially dangerous collaboration” between liberal filmmakers and the administration.

Some of what those investigations found did show collaboration between the administration and the filmmakers, but Defense Department and White House officials have said it’s no different than what they give many filmmakers and news reporters on a regular basis.

CNN’s Barbara Starr and Larry Shaughnessy contributed to this report.