Tags: Al-Qaida | Robert ONeill | Osama Bin Laden | 911 | families

O'Neill: I Went Public on Bin Laden After Meeting 9/11 Families

By    |   Friday, 14 Nov 2014 12:12 PM

Former Navy Seal Robert O'Neill says he decided to go public with his story about killing Osama bin Laden after he met with families of people who were killed in the 9/11 attacks and decided he wanted to be honest with them.

"It was meeting the 9/11 families and having someone here, being honest, telling the truth, giving them closure," O'Neill told CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan in a report that aired Friday morning.

While details of the bin Laden raid have remained classified, along with the identities of SEAL Team 6, O'Neill decided to go public, a decision that has caused a great deal of criticism from military leaders and others, as the 23 Navy SEALS in the raid were sworn to secrecy, as are all members of the elite force.

Story continues after the video.


"I think it's a difficult secret to keep," O'Neill said. "Everyone was proud. I think it was apparent that we had done it."

He reiterated to Brennan that he shot the one-time al-Qaida mastermind three times in the face.

"I turned and went into the next room and I was looking at Osama bin Laden and that's when I shot him and killed him," O'Neill said.

But after the raid, O'Neill, a highly decorated veteran, chose to leave the military and accepted an honorable discharge that cost him a government pension.

"Like a lot of guys that are still there now, I stop getting adrenaline when people are shooting and I knew that that could lead to complacency because if I am not afraid of, that I might wind up doing something stupid thinking that I can't get hurt," O'Neill said.

He now works as a motivational speaker  and has undergone some tough financial times, but denies he is trying to cash in on his role in the raid.

"Well, I'd say if I was cashing in, I would have written a book as soon as I got out. I haven't written a book, I'm not writing a book," O'Neill said.

But one of his former teammates, Matt Bissonette, who wrote the book "No Easy Day," under the pseudonym Mark Owen, gives a slightly different version of the mission, saying that both he and O'Neill fired the shots that killed bin Laden.

"I can't speak for him and I can't say what he saw," O'Neill told CBS. "I think he's saying what he saw. And I think it can be foggy. All I can do is tell you what I saw for sure. I'm telling my end of the story."

The Pentagon told CBS it is monitoring O'Neill's words, but the former SEAL says he is not afraid.

"Everything that I've done so far has been done with them in mind, with respect for the Pentagon and the Department of Defense and what they're doing," O'Neill said.

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Former Navy Seal Robert O'Neill says he decided to go public with his story about killing Osama bin Laden after he met with families of people who were killed in the 9/11 attacks and decided he wanted to be honest with them.
Robert ONeill, Osama Bin Laden, 911, families
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2014-12-14
Friday, 14 Nov 2014 12:12 PM
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