In a rare on-the-record denial, U.S. Special Operations Command has come forward to dispute the story told in a controversial new book exploring how al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden met his end at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALS.
“It’s just not true,” said Col. Tim Nye, U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman of the account told in Chuck Pfarrer’s new book “SEAL Target Geronimo.”
“It’s not how it happened.”
Pfarrer, a former Navy SEAL himself, says the Obama administration has a political interest in sticking to its guns, and that he has staked his career on the facts in his book.
“I think it’s very important that the administration itself push back on this. They have never really come out with a complete story,” said Pfarrer, in an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller. “The story they did come out with was a series of factoids: a 45-minute firefight, the deliberate wounding of a woman, a ground–up assault, trying to explain how a helicopter landed on the wrong side of a 20-foot wall and a 10-foot steel gate.”
Pfarrer, whose tale rejects each of those claims, says that the administration’s story — told most comprehensively by The New Yorker — was borne of haphazard political expedience.
“I’m afraid it’s a bit embarrassing for them. Almost everything that was released about the mission, aside from what the president said, was incorrect,” claims Pfarrer. “They had to reel in everything they said. They got tired of correcting themselves, and I think the final method of damage control was simply to freeze the story, stop the narrative where they left it.”
“I think the military might find itself coerced into trying to defend the administration’s version of events,” he warned.
“I wrote this book with eyewitness accounts and the best information available,” said Pfarrer, who maintains that he spoke with multiple special-forces operators directly involved in the bin Laden mission.
For the military’s part, in the days surrounding SEAL Target Geronimo’s news-dominating release, each member of SEAL Team Six was questioned about whether they had spoken with Pfarrer. While each operator reportedly denied any exchange with the author, it does leave open the question of why the military thought it important to ask at all if his facts were wrong.
Col. Nye claims there will be no further investigation on the part of Special Operations Command.
In an earlier interview with TheDC, Pfarrer predicted that the Obama administration would speak out against his account.
“This is something I always expected,” said Pfarrer. “When the administration’s version of events started coming apart, principally with the helicopter crashing on insertion and then another one diverting outside the target, the story just didn’t hold pace.”
“I realized there would be heat for this,” he added, “but I felt that it was vital to set the historical record straight and to do these guys the honor they deserve for this very well-run mission.”
Pfarrer claims he joined many other journalists and storytellers who sought information directly from the White House in the weeks immediately following bin Laden’s death. The administration came under intense scrutiny then for extending informational access to a Hollywood movie studio working on a movie about bin Laden’s takedown — a film that would debut in advance of the November 2012 election.
At the time, White House spokesman Jay Carney brushed off concerns raised by reporters that the administration was selectively doling out information for political reasons.
“When people, including you in this room,” said Carney, “are working on articles, books, documentaries or movies that involve the president, ask to speak to administration officials, we do our best to accommodate them to make sure that facts are correct. That is hardly a novel approach to the media.”
“I twice asked the White House for help working on this book,” said Pfarrer. “Both times they told me, ‘good luck’ while they were engaging with people who were helping with fundraisers,” he explained, referring to the movie studio that received special access.
Pfarrer says multiple firsthand sources he used for his book have contacted him since the administration began pushing back on his claims.
“I’ve gotten messages back to me saying, ‘keep the faith,’” said Pfarrer. “When I was writing this book, my sources told me, ‘you’re gonna get clobbered’ and I absolutely expected it.”
And Pfarrer thinks the Obama administration’s effort to “clobber” him is well underway.
“The administration has pushed back absolutely as hard as they can, in every position they can to question my credibility, question my service record, which I think is a bit despicable,” he explained.
“I have never had my credibility questioned,” insisted Pfarrer. “In fact, the previous book I wrote about my experience in SEAL Team is on the Navy recruiting site.”
“It’s kind of the last desperate arrow they can shoot at me.”
Pfarrer’s detractors have even moved “to out my registered government company,” he said, by publicly identifying Acme Ballistics Incorporated, which specializes in “counter terrorism mission training” according to its website.
Pfarrer said the effort to tarnish his credibility is “necessary” for a White House interested in “protecting and cherishing the New Yorker article.”
“They’ve attacked me on every single level that they can,” he told TheDC.
He believes history, and a persistent American curiosity with the night Osama bin Laden was killed, will ultimately bear out the facts.
“I encourage people to file Freedom of Information requests,” said Pfarrer. “Let’s get the timeline of the operation out in the public and I won’t have to rewrite my book when these facts come out.”