Esquire Publishes First-ever Interview With The Navy SEAL Who Killed Osama Bin Laden

Esquire Publishes First-ever Interview With The Navy SEAL Who Killed Osama Bin Laden

Esquire magazine will publish an exclusive in-depth feature story in the March 2013 issue about the former Navy SEAL Team Six member who killed Osama Bin Laden. The 15,000-word story, "The Shooter," is written by Phil Bronstein, Executive Chair of the Center for Investigative Reporting (the piece was reported in cooperation with CIR), and is based on extensive interviews with the man who killed bin Laden.

The story reveals untold, unforgettable details of the historic nighttime raid in May, 2011 at bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and stands as the definitive account of what happened there that night. It also offers a sobering portrait of life after the military and makes the case that the government largely abandons its most elite and highly-trained soldiers after their service is over. The Navy SEAL, identified as "the Shooter" for his safety and that of his family (and out of respect for his colleagues), told Bronstein his story both to correct the historical record of the bin Laden mission and to put a spotlight on how the United States government treats its most highly-trained and accomplished soldiers once they return to civilian life.

On the day "the Shooter" departed the military after 16 years, he was left with:

  • No medical insurance for him or his family.
  • No pension.
  • No comprehensive assistance in transitioning to civilian life.
  • No provision for security from the threat of retaliation for himself or his family.
  • An average wait of nine months for those limited VA benefits that are available to him.

(Note: Had "the Shooter" stayed in for 20 years, he would have been eligible for a pension of $2197.00 per month, the same pension as a member of the Navy choir.)

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Bronstein spent more than a year establishing trust and building a rapport with the now-retired Navy SEAL at the center of this story, as well as interviewing several other SEAL Team 6 members. One, a friend of the Shooter, states: "If I get killed on this next deployment, I know my family will be taken care of. But if I come back and retire, I won't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of for the rest of my life. Sad to say, it's better if I get killed."

As Bronstein reports: With the American way of war evolving dramatically in the past decade to deal with asymmetrical threats, most of the future fighting will be done not by large contingents of conventional ground forces but with targeted strikes by Special Operations forces such as the Shooter and his colleagues. Consequently, "there will be an increasing number of vets in the Shooter's circumstance: abandoned, with limited choices." This riveting look at a legendary raid and the troubling second chapter for "The Shooter" and his Special Ops peers is a call-to-action: Something must be done.

Phil Bronstein will be a guest on The Today Show at 7:40 on February 11, 2013, to discuss this story.