A lengthy article in the March issue of Esquire magazine told the story of the saga of the Navy SEAL who claimed to have shot most-wanted terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden to death in that May 2, 2011, operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The member of famed SEAL Team 6, in the article penned by Phil Bronstein, executive chair of the Berkeley, Calif.-based Center for Investigative Reporting (and ex-husband of actress Sharon Stone), went on to complain about his shoddy treatment by the Navy and struggles to keep his family and finances, as well as his health, in order after deciding to toss aside his 16 years of military service.
That latter decision raised many eyebrows and doubts in the military community, particularly among other sailors and service members keenly aware that exiting the service short of 20 years more likely will mean no lifetime pension and associated accompanying benefits. And many post-9/11 combat veterans, in particular, note the five years of health care guaranteed to them regardless of when they separate.
The so-called “Shooter’s” story, of firing the fatal rounds into bin Laden’s head before the al-Qaida leader could grab a weapon, also raised some questions about its truthfulness — from other SEALs and special operations forces. It seemed that his story conflicted with that of another SEAL Team 6 member on that same mission — the SEAL known as “Mark Owen” who authored a memoir, No Easy Day, published last fall.
Now another former SEAL, blogger and author Brandon Webb, supports Owen’s assertion that it was the “point man,” the first SEAL to reach bin Laden’s third-floor bedroom, who fired the fatal shots into the terrorist’s head. Not the so-called “Shooter,” who followed the point man up the stairway ahead of Owen.
In a March 25 blog post on SOFREP, an online website catering to the U.S. and British spec-ops community, Webb aims to clarify just what the “Shooter” did on that mission but contends the SEAL did not fire the fatal shots that killed bin Laden. “The actual shooter at Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSW DEVGRU or SEAL Team 6) has continued to maintain his professional integrity and has not come forward with the story, and most likely never will.”
Moreover, states Webb, the so-called “Shooter” was “removed from his DEVGRU Squadron for talking about the operation openly after being warned to ‘can it.’ He was encouraged by leadership to remain in the SEAL community to finish out his career and gain his full retirement benefits. Apparently against his concerns about personal security he has been very active on the public speaking circuit.” He goes on to question the SEALs’ tactics as described by the shooter in the Esquire interview, and quotes an unnamed SEAL assigned to super-secret Joint Special Operations Command, which is based at Fort Bragg, N.C., as calling the shooter/Esquire account of the killing of bin Laden as “complete bull shit.” The magazine on March 27 told CNN, which echoed Webb’s doubts, “We stand by our story.”