The White House is not directly refuting a Navy SEAL account of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden even though it contradicts some of the details the Obama administration provided in the days following the successful mission.
In a new book, “No Easy Day,” a retired SEAL who was involved in the raid describes details that differ with the way administration officials told the story in the heady days following the mission, including that bin Laden was unarmed when he was shot by SEAL Team 6. The author used the pen name “Mark Owen,” but his real identity and name, Matt Bissonette, have since leaked out. Mr. Bissonette is scheduled to appear on CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday.
When asked about the apparent contradictions, White House spokesman Jay Carney said some of the information coming out in the immediate aftermath of the raid was “incomplete” and the White House subsequently provided clarification.
“I would point you to the many briefings we did in the days immediately following the raid,” he told reporters at a White House briefing. “We worked to get your information as quickly as possible following the raid, and as more debriefings happened — debriefings of the special operators involved in the mission as well as others — some of the initial information turned out to be incomplete. We acknowledged that at the time.”
“And it was either incomplete or needed clarification, and we made sure to get our more complete and clearer information. Again, as far as this individual’s account, it’s one individual’s account, and I just can’t comment on it.”
When pressed about whether the White House was worried that the book contains sensitive information about military operations, Mr. Carney said he didn’t know and couldn’t say.
“I have not read the book. I’m not — I don’t believe anybody here has read it, and I can’t make an evaluation,” he told reporters.
One prominent detail the Obama administration had to knock down was a statement by National Security Adviser John Brennan the day after the raid that a cowardly bin Laden used his own wife as a human shield in his final moments.
Hours after Mr. Brennan described the incident, other administration officials were clarifying the narrative. It turned out the woman that was killed on the compound wasn’t the terrorist leader’s wife and he wasn’t using her as a human shield, and he may not have been holding a gun, U.S. officials said.