WASHINGTON, USA (AFP) — The US commando who wrote a first-hand account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden said his book has no political motive and is meant to pay tribute to the years of work that led up to the operation, according to excerpts of a television interview released yesterday.
"No Easy Day" was due to be released on September 11, to coincide with the anniversary of the 2001 attacks orchestrated by bin Laden, but has been moved up to next week amid a surge in orders for the book, which is being published by Penguin Group's Dutton.
The author, who writes under the pseudonym Mark Owen, told CBS television's "60 Minutes" programme that he had wanted the book released on September 11 to avoid any political connotations during an election year.
"My worry from the beginning is, you know, it's a political season. This book is not political whatsoever. It doesn't bad mouth either party, and we specifically chose September 11th to keep it out of the politics," he told CBS, according to excerpts of the interview.
"You know, if these — crazies on either side of the aisle want to make it political, shame on them. This is a book about September 11th, and it needs to rest on September 11th, not be brought into the political arena, because this — this has nothing to do with politics," he said.
The former Navy SEAL describes a dress rehearsal for the raid carried out at a mock-up of the Al-Qaeda chief's Pakistani compound, which he said was witnessed by top military brass, including the then chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, and the former head of Special Operations Command, Admiral Eric Olsen.
The rehearsal went "fine," he said.
"This is nothing new to us. The part that was new was all the VIPs sitting there watching," he said.
"One of the things that I like after the fact was — I remember Admiral Mullen coming by and talking to each one of us and then Admiral Olsen as well. And I thought that was cool that, you know, they walked by, shook each of our hands, and said, 'Hey, are you guys ready? Can you guys pull this off?'"
"And I'm pretty sure... we all said, 'Yes, absolutely.'"
About a week later, the US Navy's SEAL team six got the green light to go ahead with the raid.
The team had a week off in Virginia Beach, where the unit is based, and one more rehearsal at the life-size model of the Abbottabad compound, he said.
"And then we got the word that we were going."
Top White House officials have granted interviews about the May 2011 raid and touted the operation as proof of President Barack Obama's leadership skills. But Republican activists and lawmakers have accused the administration of leaking sensitive information.
No Easy Day...to be released on September 11