I don’t have time to read it all right now, but in case you do, I thought I’d share this extraordinary piece of long-form journalism provided by Esquire and the Center for Investigative Reporting.
It’s an intimate portrait of the man who fired the shots that killed Osama bin Laden. The critical moment described first-hand:
I had my hand on the point man’s shoulder and squeezed, a signal to go. The two of us went up. On the third floor, he tackled the two women in the hallway right outside the first door on the right, moving them past it just enough. He thought he was going to absorb the blast of suicide vests; he was going to kill himself so I could get the shot. It was the most heroic thing I’ve ever seen. I rolled past him into the room, just inside the doorway.
There was bin Laden standing there. He had his hands on a woman’s shoulders, pushing her ahead, not exactly toward me but by me, in the direction of the hallway commotion. … I’m just looking at him …. He’s got a gun on a shelf right there, the short AK he’s famous for. And he’s moving forward. I don’t know if she’s got a vest and she’s being pushed to martyr them both. He’s got a gun within reach. He’s a threat. I need to get a head shot so he won’t have a chance to clack himself off [blow himself up].
In that second, I shot him, two times in the forehead. Bap! Bap! The second time as he’s going down. He crumpled onto the floor in front of his bed and I hit him again, Bap! same place. That time I used my EOTech red-dot holo sight. He was dead. Not moving. His tongue was out. I watched him take his last breaths, just a reflex breath.
And I remember as I watched him breathe out the last part of air, I thought: Is this the best thing I’ve ever done, or the worst thing I’ve ever done? This is real and that’s him. Holy shit.
The piece goes on to say that now that this man is leaving the Navy, his future is cloudy because he has no pension, and no health benefits. (As I said, I haven’t read it all, but I’m supposing that’s because he was in less than 20 years.) As the report says:
But the Shooter will discover soon enough that when he leaves after sixteen years in the Navy, his body filled with scar tissue, arthritis, tendonitis, eye damage, and blown disks, here is what he gets from his employer and a grateful nation:
Nothing. No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family.
I thought y’all might be interested.