SEAL's first-hand account of bin Laden killing

A former member of SEAL Team 6, known by the pseudonym Mark Owen, recounts the raid that killed the world's most wanted man: Osama bin Laden

(CBS News) His voice and face disguised and using the pseudonym Mark Owen, one of the Navy SEALs who participated in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden gives an exclusive interview to Scott Pelley. Owen, now retired, says the SEALs trained for the mission using a full-size replica of the bin Laden compound, and that a dress rehearsal was held for military top brass. And Owen refutes charges that he's trying to make a political statement with his book, "No Easy Day."


The following is a script of "Killing Bin Laden" which aired on Sept. 9, 2012. Scott Pelley is the correspondent. Henry Schuster, producer.

You are about to meet one of the men who shot Osama bin Laden. Mark Owen recently left the Navy's elite counterterrorism unit, SEAL Team 6. Mark Owen is not his real name. It is the name that he used to write a new book about the assault on bin Laden's compound called "No Easy Day." Owen was on the helicopter that crashed into the compound. He was the second man in bin Laden's bedroom. And he took the pictures of the body that the world has never seen.

Owen received a Silver Star for valor and a Purple Heart for a wound suffered in the raid. But, despite all that, Owen told us, in his only interview, that "No Easy Day" is not about him. He says it's a tribute to the hundreds of Americans who gathered intelligence, planned and trained in the 10-year pursuit of the world's most wanted man. SEAL Team 6, he told us, just took care of the last 40 minutes.

Scott Pelley: Was this a mission...was the plan to kill Osama bin Laden or capture him before you went in?

Mark Owen: This was absolutely not a kill-only mission. It was made very clear to us throughout our training for this that, "Hey, if given the opportunity, this is not an assassination. You will capture him alive, if feasible."

Scott Pelley: That was the preferred thing?

Mark Owen: Yes.

Scott Pelley: To take him alive, if you could?

Mark Owen: Yeah, yeah. I mean, we're not there to assassinate somebody. We weren't sent in to murder him. This was, "Hey, kill or capture."

We've never heard the story from someone who was there. The raid, May 1st, 2011, had been years in the making. But, in the moment, the best laid plans failed leaving a small team of Americans to improvise victory from near disaster.

Mark Owen: This operation was one of the most significant operations in U.S. history. And it's something that I believe deserves to be told right and deserves to go in a book and stand for itself.

Scott Pelley: You're in disguise as we do this interview today and I wonder why.

Mark Owen: The focus shouldn't be on me. The focus should be on the book. I'm not trying to be special or a hero or anything. I'm just trying to tell the bigger story.

Scott Pelley: But you're in disguise also for your own security?

Mark Owen: Yeah, absolutely.

Scott Pelley: Tell me about that. What concerns you?

Mark Owen: You know, the enemy has a long memory.

And so we spent a long time perfecting a new look for Owen. Before each interview, the best artists spent four hours thoroughly changing his appearance. We've used shadows to enhance the effect and we've altered his voice.

Chief Petty Officer Owen was in the Navy 14 years. He had read about the SEALs in junior high school and set his sights.

Scott Pelley: How many times have you been to war since 9/11?

Mark Owen: I've done 13 combat deployments.

Scott Pelley: Afghanistan?

Mark Owen: Afghanistan, Iraq, all over.

There are several SEAL teams but Owen rose to the very top, a unit called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group -- SEAL Team 6.

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