SEAL tells 60 Minutes book is for honor, not politics

A Navy SEAL who was in the room when Osama bin Laden was killed says his book is not political, but timed to commemorate 9/11 and honor the people who made the raid possible

(CBS News) A retired Navy SEAL who was present at the killing of Osama bin Laden tells Scott Pelley in a 60 Minutes interview that his book about the raid is not a political statement, rather it is timed to commemorate the 9/11 attack and give credit to the hundreds of people whose work made the mission a success. The former SEAL Team 6 member, who uses the pseudonym Mark Owen, will appear in his first interview on 60 Minutes, Sunday Sept. 9 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT.

As a security measure, CBS News will not identify "Owen" in any reports about his account of the raid; his face and voice were disguised for his 60 Minutes interview. His book about the raid, "No Easy Day," will be available next week. The following is an excerpt that appeared on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley:

He calls himself Mark Owen. That's not his real name. We've disguised him and will keep his name confidential for his own safety. Owen was on the helicopter that crashed in bin Laden's compound. He was the second man in the room when bin Laden was shot, he took the photographs of the body that were never released. But Owen told us the story is not about him -- it's the story of hundreds of Americans who spent years gathering intelligence, planning and training of the SEALs, Owen says, "We just took care of the last 40 minutes."

We built what we believe is the most accurate model of bin Laden's compound ever constructed. Owen told us, before the mission, a full size replica of the compound was built in the United States for training and there was a dress rehearsal for the top brass including the chairman of the joint chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, and Admiral Eric Olsen, head of Special Operations Command.

Scott Pelley: How did that rehearsal go?

Mark Owen: It was fine. This is nothing new to us. The part that was new was all the VIPs sitting there watching. 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 to a man we all said, "Yes, absolutely."

Scott Pelley: How long was it before you got the call to go?

Mark Owen: We had a week off in Virginia Beach. And when I say "off," it wasn't completely. But we had a week-- a week off at home-- conducted one more rehearsal, day of training on the life-size mock up. And then we got the word that we were going.

Owen's book was to be released on the anniversary of 9/11, but the release has been moved up to next week. There's been criticism that the book is timed to influence the election.

Mark Owen: 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. 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.

When word of the book was announced last week, a few news organizations discovered Mark Owen's real name and published it. As a result, he's a marked man -- in hiding -- probably for the rest of his life. We will not reveal his true name.