On Monday Esquire magazine published a massive profile of the Navy SEAL who says he shot Osama bin Laden.
Weighing in at some 15,000 words, the story does not identify the killer of al Qaeda's leader by his real name and refers to him only as "the Shooter."
Clearly the Shooter wanted to maintain something of the code of silence that is pervasive among the covert warriors of SEAL Team 6, the unit that mounted the bin Laden operation.
What do we learn from the Shooter's story? Most critically that the Shooter says he killed bin Laden with two shots at close range as he stood in his third floor bedroom in the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he had been hiding for more than five years.
This account differs in a crucial respect from the book "No Easy Day" by Mark Owen, a SEAL who also was on the bin Laden raid. (Mark Owen is a pseudonym; he was quickly revealed to be Matt Bissonnette.)
In "No Easy Day," a runaway bestseller that has stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for the past 22 weeks, Bissonnette writes that the SEALs were 15 minutes into the Abbottabad mission when the point man spotted a male poking his head out of a third floor bedroom.
He wrote that the point man shot at the mysterious male, and when the SEALs went inside the third floor bedroom they found him lying on the floor in his death throes. Bissonnette and another SEAL quickly finished him off with several more rounds.
The dead man was bin Laden.
It's a much less heroic story than that of the Shooter, who says he encountered bin Laden face-to-face in the bedroom. The Shooter says he saw that bin Laden's gun was within easy reach, and it was only then that he fired the shots that killed him.
The Shooter's version of bin Laden's death matches closely the accounts by reporters who have written most authoritatively about it.