60 Minutes: Killing Bin Laden
With the clock running out on the sensitive mission to capture Osama Bin Laden, the Navy SEAL Team 6 assigned to the mission was impressed in the accuracy of the information provided to them by a CIA analyst on the assignment. But did they have their man? They were not yet sure.
60 Minutes: Osama Bin Laden Mission
Mark Owen said he thought the man looked younger than Bin Laden, and his beard was black, not gray. He was tall, so that was a noticeable feature. Owen had studied his nose in photographs, and that seemed to be a match.
The president, vice president, Secretary of State, and countless others were listening at the White House, and were on the edge of their seats after hearing news of the earlier helicopter crash. No one on the site was ready yet to declare that Osama Bin Laden had been killed.
60 Minutes: Navy SEALs ID Bin Laden
One of the SEALs who spoke Arabic turned to a child who was present at the compound. I guess you can count on kids to be honest in any language. The child gave them the positive identification they had been waiting for: Osama Bin Laden. After confirming the identity with another woman on the scene, they called for their commanding officer.
The officer arrived, confirmed the identification, and the SEALs went on with their mission, racing against the clock to make their escape to safety. Meanwhile, the officer passed the message up the chain of command that Bin Laden had been killed.
60 Minutes: Mark Owen Bin Laden Photos
They took photographic evidence and DNA, in duplicate, in case one of the helicopters was shot down. Mark Owen’s task was to take photographs, and he did it carefully and deliberately to ensure that the evidence would be useful.
Owen used water to clean blood of Bin Laden’s face to get a clearer picture. Thinking back, he said the pictures are “pretty gruesome” due to his “bullet wound in the head.” The body was transported into a bag, and weapons were found in Bin Laden’s bedroom during a search.
60 Minutes: Bin Laden Fight
Bin Laden was armed, but he did not use the gun he had in his bedroom. Scott Pelley wondered why he did not defend himself. “In the end, he wasn’t even willing to put up a fight,” Owen said.
A team on the home’s second floor was collecting evidence such as computer discs and other intelligence in garbage bags and whatever they could carry. The plan took slightly longer than their 30-minute window.
60 Minutes: Navy SEAL Evacuation
Neighbors were starting to get curious, observing the SEALs guarding the compound. There were a lot of questions that could have been thrown at the team on the perimeter. The helicopter also had to be destroyed, because it contained secret information.
As the clock ran out, two large reinforced helicopters were standing by to help the SEALs leave the mission location. They loaded out the body and slowly left the scene.
60 Minutes: Blackhawk Helicopter Explosion
With just seconds until the crashed helicopter exploded, the SEALs were rushing to clear the area. The explosion provided cover as the last of the SEALs boarded a helicopter, clocking out at 38 minutes, which could have drained the chopper’s fuel supply.
Flashing red lights in the cockpit signified that the gas gauges were about to run out. The blackhawk helicopter had to refuel before leaving Pakistan. Finally, they made it back to Afghanistan and could breathe a sigh of relief.
Back on the ground, the team briefly celebrated their mission accomplished. The book No Easy Day describes what happened next, including the confirmation from the expert CIA analyst who had gotten every detail right.
60 Minutes: Mark Owen Taco Bell
Just hours later, President Barack Obama issued an announcement about the death of Osama Bin Laden. The SEAL team got to watch the announcement live on the other side of the world.
There were celebrations in the streets and across America. The media coverage was blanketed, and Mark Owen said it was surreal that the secret was finally out. He said he took the next few days off, stopping for Taco Bell before heading home. I’m amazed Taco Bell hasn’t yet signed him up at a spokesman.