The biggest and most eagerly anticipated book of the year, written by an apolitical, previously unknown figure, could have unexpected effects on the last weeks of the presidential campaign.
No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden is written by a former member of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as SEAL Team Six, under the pseudonym Mark Owen. Owen’s missions with the SEALs included the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates in 2009 and the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 1, 2011, which resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. The book describes the author as “one of the first men through the door on the third floor of the terrorist mastermind’s hideout, where he witnessed Bin Laden’s death.” On the cover of the book and in its text, the author’s name and the names of the other SEALs mentioned in No Easy Day have been changed for their security; the author’s real name has been revealed in subsequent news accounts.
If Owen’s account is accurate, bin Laden’s death unfolded quite differently from the official descriptions. According to No Easy Day, bin Laden had already been shot in the head by the time the SEALs arrived at the floor where the al-Qaeda leader’s bedroom was located — although it is unclear whether bin Laden shot himself, or one of his bodyguards shot him to ensure he would not be captured alive.