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Entries in 60 Minutes (4)

Monday
Sep102012

SEAL: Why We Shot Bin Laden on Sight

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — As top American officials and a Navy SEAL who was on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden grapple over whether the al Qaeda leader "resisted" before he was shot, the SEAL said in a recent interview that in the heat of battle, the men on the ground weren't going to take any chances with their target.

In a firsthand account of the May 2011 raid, written under the pseudonym Mark Owen, the Navy SEAL Team Six member who was right behind the "point man," who first shot Osama bin Laden, said that before they took off for bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the commandos were told that it was not a kill-only mission.

"A lawyer from either the Department of Defense or the White House made it clear that this wasn't an assassination," Owen writes in his book, No Easy Day. "'If he is naked with his hands up, you're not going to engage him,' he told us. 'I am not going to tell you how to do your job. What we're saying is if he does not pose a threat, you will detain him.'"

But later in the book, Owen writes that bin Laden was shot the second he poked his head out of a door frame, apparently before he had a chance to resist or present a visible threat. At the time, Owen said he didn't know who his teammate's bullets had hit, if anyone.

"We were less than five steps from getting to the top [of the stairs] when I heard suppressed shots," Owen writes. "BOP. BOP. The point man had seen a man peeking out of the door on the right side of the hallway about ten feet in front of him. I couldn't tell from my position if the rounds hit the target or not. The man disappeared into the dark room."

It wasn't until other members of the team entered the room that they realized the man had been hit in the head and then, after shooting him in the chest a few more times until he stopped twitching, they realized it was bin Laden, the book says. America's most wanted man was unarmed and though there was a rifle and a handgun in a room nearby, neither had a bullet loaded in the chamber.

"He hadn't even prepared a defense. He had no intention of fighting," Owen writes.

In a recent interview with CBS News' 60 Minutes, Owen explained why the shot was taken apparently before the man presented a direct, visible threat. He said the team had already been in a short firefight in another part of the house, an AK-47 assault rifle had been found right next to one of bin Laden's sons who had just been killed and, due to a delay in getting the team inside the compound, bin Laden had already had plenty of time to arm himself or strap on a suicide vest.

"All those boxes had been checked [so] that if a guy sticks his head around the corner, he could very easily have a gun," Owen said. "You don't wait [for him to] get that AK or get that grenade thrown down the hall or that suicide vest. So in that split second, that's when [the point man] engaged."

As for why Owen and another SEAL opened fire on bin Laden as he lay on the ground, Owen said they could not see bin Laden's hands and were concerned he could still be hiding a grenade.

Owen's book has sparked controversy both for the discrepancies between his story and the "official" version as told by the White House in which bin Laden "resisted," as well as his decision to write and publish the book without first allowing government officials to vet it for classified information.

Owen and his publisher, Dutton, maintain that the book was vetted by a former special operations attorney and discloses no sensitive information, but last week the Pentagon said it disagreed and was considering legal action against Owen.

Late Friday, CNN reported Adm. William McRaven, the head of U.S. special operations, had gone back to the other Navy SEALs involved in the operation -- including the "point man" -- to check Owen's story and found that the author was not accurate in his retelling. According to CNN, Pentagon officials said that bin Laden was standing in his room and, as CNN put it, "showed no signs of surrendering" when he was shot.

A Pentagon spokesperson told ABC News the Department of Defense is not confirming or denying Owen's account, saying "his account is his own."

Owen's book, which went on sale last week, was originally intended to hit bookshelves Tuesday on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks for which bin Laden was responsible. The sale date was moved up after the book's existence leaked, causing a tidal wave of controversy and demand for the first-ever inside look at the historic raid.

Owen said he plans to give a majority of the proceeds from the book to charities that support the families of fallen SEALs, but at least one major SEAL charity, The Navy SEAL Foundation, already announced it would not be accepting donations from the book sales, citing Owen's possible legal troubles.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Nov052011

Journalist Andy Rooney Dies at 92

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Andy Rooney, the rumpled writer whose weekly riffs about the absurdities of everyday life made him one of television's longest-running commentators, died Friday night, just weeks after his farewell broadcast on "60 Minutes." He was 92.

He died from complications from a recent surgery.

Rooney presented his first commentary on "60 Minutes" in 1978 and he became a weekly fixture the following year when he assumed his perch at the end of the broadcast.

It would be a remarkable run. By the end of Rooney's final appearance Sunday, Oct. 2, he had presented 1,097 original essays and had worked for CBS for 62 years.

"One day about 10 years ago the door to my office opened and who walked in but Bill Gates. … Seemed like a nice guy and has done more with his money than most billionaires. But that's as far as I want to go being kind to Bill Gates," Rooney said in one of his classic essays.

"I had one typewriter for 50 years, but I have bought seven computers in six years. I suppose that's why Bill Gates is rich, and Underwood is out of business."

In a 2008 commentary, Rooney marveled at the flood of Christmas catalogues stuffing his mailbox. "This is a Sears catalogue. Sears, whatever happened to Roebuck? You never hear Sears, Roebuck anymore. Call if you're out there, Roebuck," he deadpanned.

In one of his final appearances, Rooney kvetched about changes in pop music. "If I am so 'average American,' how come that I have never heard of most of the musical groups that millions of others Americans apparently are listening to," he said.

"The singers I know have been replaced by singers like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Usher. I mean, who?"

Andrew Aitken "Andy" Rooney was born in Albany, N.Y. in 1919. In 1941, while attending Colgate University, he was drafted into the Army, leading to one of Rooney's formative experiences, covering World War II for the "Stars and Stripes" newspaper, what he called "the single luckiest thing that ever happened to me."

"I hate to say it, but I had a great time in World War II," he once said.

While in London, he met two men who would go on to iconic success at CBS, Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt. Rooney followed them to CBS in 1949 as a writer for "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" and then "The Garry Moore Show." He also began writing for CBS News, for such programs as "The Twentieth Century" and "The Morning Show with Will Rogers, Jr."

In 1962, Rooney began a long collaboration with the correspondent Harry Reasoner, writing and producing a series of Reasoner's CBS News specials.

Rooney won the first of his four Emmy Awards in 1968, for writing an installment of the CBS News series, "Of Black America." That same year, he also joined the staff of a new program helmed by his old friend Hewitt: "60 Minutes."

At first, Rooney worked as a producer on the broadcast with no thought, he would later claim, of appearing on the air himself. But in that initial season, he appeared in silhouette with a "60 Minutes" senior producer for an end-of-the broadcast segment called "Ipso and Facto."

"It was one of many experiments … Hewitt tried as an end for the program," according to Rooney's official CBS News biography.

Hewitt eventually settled on a point-counterpoint segment that featured the liberal Shana Alexander and the conservative James J. Kilpatrick presenting dueling opinions. After having Rooney deliver some commentaries in 1978, Hewitt gave him the end-of-the-show slot full time beginning in the fall of 1979.

Through the years, television changed, but Rooney did not. He was the crusty uncle, and then the cranky grandfather, serving up wry slices of life. Week after week, year after year, Rooney taped his appearances while sitting behind his desk in his book-lined office. Visually appealing, it was not. For Rooney, the words were what mattered.

But those words sometimes got him in trouble.

In 1990, Rooney was given a three-month suspension by CBS for remarks that many considered offensive. They included a commentary in 1989, when the AIDS epidemic raged, in which Rooney lumped in "homosexual unions" with smoking and drinking as "self induced" ills that "lead quite often to pre-mature death."

So many viewers objected to the suspension -- CBS was flooded with thousands of letters and telephone calls -- the network reinstated Rooney after just one month.

Rooney authored 16 books, including Air Gunner; the Story of the Stars and Stripes, The Fortunes of War, A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney, and most recently, in 2009, Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit.

A weekly newspaper column, which he wrote beginning in 1979, was recognized in 2003 by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists with its Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award.

Rooney and his wife, Marguerite, were married for 62 years before her death, in 2009. They had four children, including Emily Rooney, a former executive producer of ABC's World News Tonight, and Brian Rooney, a former ABC correspondent.

In his final broadcast earlier this month, Rooney spoke -- in his typically prickly style -- of his relationship with his audience. "I spent my first 50 years trying to become known as a writer and the next 30 trying to avoid being famous," he said. "I walk down the street or go to a football game and people shout, 'Hey Andy." I hate that."

Still, he allowed a moment of warmth and gratitude. "All this time I've been paid to say what is on my mind in television," he said. "You don't get any luckier than that."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr282011

CBS' Lara Logan Thought She Would Die During Sexual Assault in Egypt

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- CBS correspondent Lara Logan thought she was about to die as she endured a sexual assault in Egypt's Tahrir Square while covering the political uprising in the country.

"There was no doubt in my mind that I was in the process of dying," Logan told CBS News' Scott Pelley in an interview that will air Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes. "I thought, 'Not only am I going to die, but it's going to be just a torturous death that's going to go on forever.'"

Logan, 40, spent four days in the hospital following the Feb. 11 attack, in which an estimated 200 to 300 men separated her from her news crew and bodyguard, surrounded her, ripped off her clothing and beat her.

"For an extended period of time, they raped me with their hands," Logan told The New York Times.

She was rescued by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.

The violence against her unfolded amid jubilation at the news that longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had decided to step down. The uprising in Egypt appeared to have a domino effect by helping to spark political uprisings in other Middle Eastern nations.

Logan, who is the chief foreign correspondent for CBS, returned to work on Wednesday.

"I am so much stronger [now]," she told Pelley, adding she hoped her story would empower other victims of sexual assault, particularly female reporters.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr182011

'Three Cups of Tea' Publisher to Review Fraud Charges

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The publisher of Three Cups of Tea said Monday it wants to review 60 Minutes' allegations that author Greg Mortenson fabricated parts of the best-selling memoir and overstated his humanitarian achievements.

A segment of the 60 Minutes news program that aired Sunday reported that a key section of the book -- how Mortenson got lost while hiking in Pakistan and stumbled upon the village of Korphe, where he was taken in and cared for by the villagers -- is a fabrication.

The central conceit of Three Cups of Tea is that Mortenson's time with the villagers inspired him to return to the region to build a school for girls, setting him off on a campaign to build dozens of schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

60 Minutes also reported in the segment that the Central Asian Institute, Mortenson's charitable organization, had taken credit for building schools that didn't actually exist or were built by others, and that it spent more money on self-promotion than on humanitarian efforts.

Viking Books, Mortenson's publisher, seemed to support him in a short statement released Monday but also said it would investigate the claims made in the 60 Minutes report.

"Greg Mortenson's work as a humanitarian in Afghanistan and Pakistan has provided tens of thousands of children with an education," the statement said. "60 Minutes is a serious news organization and in the wake of their report, Viking plans to carefully review the materials with the author."

Mortenson defended himself Sunday in an email to supporters before the 60 Minutes segment aired, calling the report that criticized his memoir and accused him of financial improprieties "a distorted picture using inaccurate information."

"As those of you who know me and have supported my work over the years will recognize, the story being framed by 60 Minutes to air in a few hours today -- as far as we can tell -- paints a distorted picture using inaccurate information, innuendo and a microscopic focus on one year's (2009) IRS 990 financial, and a few points in the book Three Cups of Tea that occurred almost 18 years ago," Mortenson wrote in the email Monday.

"The Board of Directors and I made the very difficult decision to not engage with 60 Minutes on camera, after they attempted an eleventh hour aggressive approach to reach me, including an ambush in front of children at a book signing at a community service leadership convention in Atlanta," he wrote. "It was clear that the program's disrespectful approach would not result in a fair, balanced or objective representation of our work, my books or our vital mission."

Among those who have publicly declared their doubt about Mortenson's account of his early experiences in Pakistan is Jon Krakauer, author of the best-sellers Into the Wild and Into Thin Air.

In the email, Mortenson said he had also turned down a request from Krakauer for an interview.

Mortenson also pointed to sexism in the countries where his organization had built schools as a cause of the controversy.

"Afghanistan and Pakistan are complex places, torn by conflicting loyalties, and some do not want our mission of educating girls to succeed," he said.

Three Cups of Tea was co-written with David Oliver Relinhis and has sold more than three million copies worldwide since its 2006 release by Viking, a division of Penguin Books.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio