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Vince Flynn Updates On His Cancer Battle, and What Really Happened In Abbotabad, Pakistan

Saturday, May 14, 2011

HH: It’s been almost two weeks since bin Laden met his end at the hand of a Navy SEAL team and other special operators. And from almost the moment that that report was received by me, I began to think about who would I like to talk with about that killing of bin Laden. Of course, the first nominee would be W., President George W. Bush, and I get to do that tomorrow night in front of a live audience in Dallas. And then the second person was Vince Flynn, America’s preeminent master of the thriller, the creator of Mitch Rapp, his number one, bestselling book, American Assassin, remains very high at the top of the charts. It’s the first of the Mitch Rapp tales. And thanks to his generosity of time, Vince Flynn joins us now. Hello, Vince.

VF: Hugh, great to be on the show, buddy. And I’ll take number two to W (laughing).

HH: (laughing) I am looking forward to tomorrow. I think he’ll be cagier than I hope you’ll be with me. I think you’re going to be pretty straightforward on this thing.

VF: I’ll be very straightforward. Yeah, I saw him at a dinner party in Minneapolis last September, and he has really loosened up. But he will not…I mean, he’s loosened up in the sense of how relaxed he is. But if somebody asked him a question that he doesn’t want to answer, he just says nope.

HH: Yeah, I’ve run into that before.

VF: And now he’s not president, he’s really good at it. He just says nope, not going to do it.

HH: And so that might, I might get a couple of those tomorrow night. But we’ll set the table, at least, right now. Perhaps W. is listening., America, I’m going to refer to his website a couple of times. And I want to start there, Vince. Before we talk about bin Laden, you had posted news at that you’ve had a health challenge yourself. Update the audience on how you’re doing.

VF: Well, I feel good. And weird enough, I was talking to Duane before we went on the air, I was on tour last fall, and I hadn’t been feeling good, and I was at dinner with you and Duane and some friends out on the West Coast, and it was really the low point. And up until then, I thought I had prostatitis, and I was being treated by doctors. But something was wrong that night. I mean, I was in pain that I hadn’t been in, you know, ever. And went and spoke at the Reagan Library that next night, and then got on a plane and went back to Minneapolis, and went in and within days was informed that I had advanced metastatic prostate cancer, which was like getting hit with a sledgehammer. For the first 36 hours, we didn’t know what, my wife and I basically huddled in our bedroom like we had the flu, because we couldn’t tell the kids anything, because there wasn’t any good news. I mean, I didn’t know if I was going to make it to Christmas.

HH: Right.

VF: And it’s amazing how quickly things can turn around. We ended up, I’m fortunate to live only an hour and fifteen minutes from the Mayo Clinic. And I ended up down there like five days later in front of a genius named Eugene Kwon, who looked at me and said, you know, you might not feel like it, but you’re a blessed guy. Two years ago, we couldn’t have done anything for you other than try to placate this. But now, we can kill it. And worst case scenario, I’ve got five to ten years, and I plan on doing a lot better than that. So I feel good. I’m on hormone therapy, which I am going to have to write a book about at some point. I’m basically a 45 year old man going through menopause.

HH: (laughing) I’d read that book. That would be interesting.

VF: (laughing) I now understand what women go through. The side effects are hot flashes and some other things, irritability.

HH: I’m so impressed that you’ll be public with it, though. A lot of men don’t do it. I’m grateful that you do, so that people know this is a disease that can be treated, cured, and recovered from.

VF: Well, and you know what? I’m old school Catholic, and I’m a big believer in prayer. And I’m not a Bible thumping kind of guy, but I absolutely believe that the more people who are out there praying for me, the better off I’m going to be and my family’s going to be. And I don’t see what good it does to hide from a problem like this. I don’t enjoy going out in public and having to talk about cancer. I don’t enjoy going out in public with people wanting to tell me their worst cancer story as if somehow that’s the kind of mind frame I want to put myself in. But it doesn’t, it’s not how I operate. It’s never good…I do a fair amount of talking to high school kids, by the way, and I always tell them, never run from your problems, because the longer you do, the worse it gets. It’s better to meet this stuff head on, and get focused, and wrap your mind around it. And you know, Hugh, the hardest thing for me the first six to eight weeks were these hormones. I have a pretty strong mental edge. You know, I’m kind of a type A guy.

HH: Yup.

VF: And these hormones had me coming and going in ways I couldn’t control my emotions. And one afternoon, I’ll never forget, I sat in my office, and I’m not a big crier. You know, my father raised all four of my brothers and I, you know, my dad told us when we lost a playoff game once when I was about 12 years old, and my dad, one of my other brothers started crying. And my dad pulled us out of the huddle and he said if I ever see you guys cry on a basketball court again, you’re done.

HH: There is no crying in baseball or basketball, yeah.

VF: Yeah, there’s things in life that are worth crying about, and this isn’t one of them. Well, I sat in my office and cried for an hour and a half. And I allowed myself to do something that I have not since allowed myself to do, which is sit there and go down these dark corridors where I imagine my own funeral, and my kids…and you can’t do that. It’s just, there is no…all it does is, I think it weakens you immune system, and it puts you in such a vulnerable place that it does no good for you or your family. So I got through that stage. The hormones have been, other than the hot flashes and some side effects, they’re fine. I mean, I’ve got a good friend, Dr. Mike Nanny right now, who’s got a brain tumor. So I like to say put things in perspective. I get out of bed every day, I thank God I’m alive. I thank God that I don’t have to watch my wife go through this or my kids. And when I hear people complain about things that aren’t problems, I sometimes will tell them you should go down to Children’s Hospital for a day, and see what problems are really like.

HH: That is a great encouragement to people, Vince Flynn. I’ve got to ask you, what do you think of the American medical system since it’s so much in the headlines, now that you’ve been in its grip for a year?

VF: Well, you know, I’m in an interesting position, because the Mayo Clinic is not, it’s not a public hospital.

HH: Right.

VF: It’s a private clinic, and it’s funded chiefly by donations by extremely wealthy people who are constantly billed and billing. I couldn’t be more impressed with my doctor, Bill Utz, here in Edina, who’s also in private practice, and Eugene Kwon in the Mayo Clinic. I mean, I’m in…Hugh, I’m a research guy. You know that. That’s why I come on your show.

HH: Yup.

VF: So when this hit, you know, I reached out. And Roger Ailes put me in touch with Michael Milken, and I got on the phone with Milken and his top research guy, a guy named Dr. Howard Sewell, and I said to him here’s where I am, I’m down at the Mayo Clinic, and they breathed a sigh of relief, and they said you know what? There’s only the top two hospitals in America for what you have, are Sloan-Kettering in New York, and the Mayo Clinic.

HH: Wow.

VF: And Eugene Kwon is a genius, and you need, that’s exactly where you need to be. So that’s a great burden that I don’t have to sit there and worry am I with the right guy. And these, both Utz and Kwon have been amazing, and I have not had that experience of problems. I mean, other than (laughing) you really start to get sick of being probed and scanned all that other stuff…

HH: Oh, I’ll bet.

VF: You just kind of…it can be depressing, and then…because you think this is where people go to die at hospitals. Then you realize no, a lot of people go to hospitals to get cured. So you kind of got to flip it around. And I’ve been lucky so far.

HH: Our friend, Hitchens, told me before he became incapable of talking that being sick is hard work. And you’re a worker. You’re a type A guy. What did…did you give up writing? Are you back at it now?

VF: No, you know, I’m back at it. I’m working on the Haig project with Brian Haig, I’ve got some exciting stuff going on out in Hollywood. It looks like we’re going to shelve Consent To Kill, which we’ve been working on for the last three and a half years. Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Amy Baer, who runs CBS Films, they loved American Assassin, which is the prequel.

HH: Sure.

VF: You know, that’s the, this is the original story of Mitch Rapp. They loved it so much, they said let’s shelve Consent To Kill, let’s do American Assassin. And they just got Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskowitz to agree to write and direct. And I was just out in L.A., and I spent a couple of days with these guys, and they are smart. They get geopolitics, they get that there’s good guys and bad guys out there. And Zwick did The Last Samurai, which I thought was just a phenomenal movie, as well as…

HH: Yup.

VF: …Blood Diamond and a bunch of other stuff. I mean, really talented guys. So we haven’t inked the deal yet, but we’re really close. And so I’m working on that, I’m trying to work on the next Rapp novel. And I’m trying to (laughing), you know, beat this little cancer thing.

HH: So you did not slow down. We’re not going to slow down, either, America. I’m coming right back with Vince Flynn. We’re going to talk about bin Laden. And by the way, Memorial Day, one of Vince’s novels, is one of the most eerie foreshadowings that you would want to have ever read. You get a hundred pages of it free, by the way, download over at just for joining up at Facebook. You’ll know what I mean.

– – – –

HH: All right, Vince, I don’t think, some in the audience may not know that the reason Mitch Rapp is so successful is you work hard on the research. You know so many people in the community of special operators, you do so much time in and around them, that you have a very unique perspective on what happened two weeks ago. Let’s just start with the general question. Where were you? What did you think when the killing of bin Laden was announced?

VF: We found out late Sunday night. Not to name drop (laughing), I had just returned from our annual spring fling at Rush Limbaugh’s joint with the Ailes family, and the Michaels, and the Ohlmeyers, and Joel Surnow and Colleen, you know, the creator of 24. And it’s an interesting weekend to say the least, and got the news, and was ecstatic, very happy. As the media began to fall all over themselves, I was horrified by several things. I mean, these are men and women who are, you know, many of them have Masters degrees in journalism from supposedly out finest schools, and they get paid to cover the Pentagon and the CIA. And I’m hearing them run around repeating things like 40 Navy SEALs raided the compound. And right away, I’m saying to myself, that number doesn’t work. I’ve never known the SEALs to work with a 40 man strike force. And then they’re saying Blackhawk helicopters, and I didn’t know about the stealth birds yet, but on missions like this at night, they fly Pave Hawks, which you know, advanced avionics, NAP-of-Earth flying, all that stuff. So they were getting all these little things wrong. And the one thing that I knew they weren’t paying attention to was what led up to this, what had to have taken place on the ground. And in the last couple of weeks, I’ve filled in the blanks on it, and it’s a pretty fascinating story, and one that I, for the most part, had right from the get-go, and it’s that, you know, the CIA, their national clandestine service, they’ve had guys on the ground in Abbottabad since last August.

HH: Yup.

VF: Now I will give President Obama credit. He signed off on this. He said to these guys, the CIA came to him with the information on the couriers. And they said we’ve tracked him to this compound. Here’s what makes this compound interesting. It has no IT, or no phone lines going into it. And it’s the only house in the neighborhood that does not have phone lines or IT lines. So it kind of sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s got these unusually high walls, you know, the whole deal. So what we do, and we do this very well, is the national reconnaissance office moves a satellite in overhead, and we start to monitor the place. And we notice that there’s a guy that takes a walk on most afternoons in this joint, and the national reconnaissance office, nobody’s giving them any credit for this, these guys are so good, they figure out by the shadow how it falls from the Sun at this time of the year, that this guy that is taking these walks every day is over six feet tall. And he takes these walks by himself, paces back and forth. So they’re starting to go all right, this is interesting. So President Obama signs off, sends in the team, along with some guys that the CIA calls SAD, or special activities division, and they’re former Delta Force operators.

HH: Okay.

VF: And they go in riding shotgun. These guys go in with the most advanced electronic surveillance equipment probably on the planet, at least in terms of what we have, which that’s a risky thing. You know, if this safe house goes down, and anybody gets their hands on this stuff, we’ve just, who knows where, what’s going to happen to it. They had microdrones that they did not use out of fear that they would lose one, you know, that it would fall into the compound in the middle of the night, and they’d wake up the next day and find it and blow the whole deal. So they start doing their surveillance. Here’s the most interesting part that I’ve heard so far, and it’s just common police work. One of the biggest breaks in the story came from the local grocer. They get to know the grocer, they start talking to the grocer about the neighborhood and what’s going on, and this and that, and the grocer ends up mentioning that he delivers food to this compound every week for 25 people, and they’re not Pakistanis. They’re all Arabs. And one of the women, in fact, dresses in the Yemeni fashion. And the CIA knows that Osama married a 14 year old Yemeni bride two years ago. So all of this starts to kind of get, it gets pieced together into this intelligence mosaic, where they’re going man, there are too many points here that are starting to line up. I originally was convinced that they had a voice print on him, and it was confirmed to me yesterday that they never got that voice print.

HH: Let me ask you if you’re surprised, Vince. In Memorial Day, in this very spooky foreshadowing, you have three bad guys on the ground, and they’re ID’d by satellite. Are you surprised that, you know, we’re supposed to be able to see the seams on a fastball. They couldn’t get the facial on OBL from the bird?

VF: No, because what I heard was they couldn’t get the angle, where he walked, with these walls, and he wore his headdress, that they couldn’t get the exact facial on him from up that high. And they were smart. You know, they built this thing right. He, the CIA couldn’t get an angle to get a photo into the compound. I mean, they handled this thing really coolly. You know, they knew they had the couriers. So the question is, is he in there? And they just kept monitoring and monitoring, and again, one of the big tip-offs was this girl dressed in Yemeni garb.

HH: Yeah.

VF: How many, she’s 16 now, or whatever, how many Yemeni women are in Abbottabad, Pakistan? It’s not a common thing, with a bunch of other Arabs behind a wall with no IT lines, no phone lines, walls that are built in such a way that nobody can see from blocks away. So they just kept piecing it together. And the other thing that I find pretty interesting, it doesn’t really surprise me, I was told that near the end here, it was DCI Panetta and Secretary of State Clinton who pushed the hardest to not tell Pakistan, which I find fascinating.

HH: I do. In fact, that’s also in Memorial Day, where you just cannot trust the ISI.

VF: No.

HH: You’ve got the Pakistani colonel, and they’ve got different divisions within it. And so they’re the ones that went hard-nosed on that as opposed to Gates. I’m surprised by that, too.

VF: Well, and so the pushback that I got, and it was in a more generic sense, it was that DOD pushed back. Now that doesn’t mean Gates, specifically. That could be individual secretaries, that could be the chairman of the joint chiefs. And if you understand our precarious supply lines in and out of Afghanistan, the DOD has every right to be the ones to be the most concerned if this relationship goes south.

HH: Yup.

VF: We’ve got a lot of military personnel in Pakistan that are logistics people getting stuff off of ships, over land, and into Afghanistan.

HH: When we come back from the break, I’m going to talk about the specifics of the mission that night, what Vince Flynn thought about them as they’ve been revealed to us, and how he might fill in some of the details that are not being filled in, including it wasn’t just the SEALs. I talked with General Boykin last week. A lot of people involved in this operation. Vince Flynn knows that community, we’ll talk about what he knows, what he suspects.

– – – –

HH: Time to talk about SEALs, Vince. I had a chance to see the SEAL movie which the studios are falling over each other to get now. I’ve seen the print of it. And so I have a little bit better appreciation of how complex this is. But when I went back and read Memorial Day, you’ve got Air Force special tactics teams, you had Ranger battalions, you had SEALs, you had Delta involved. This operation, the bin Laden kill team, it sounded just like SEALs, and that didn’t sound right to me. What does it sound like to you?

VF: Well, that was my confusion when they were throwing the 40 number out there. But here’s where it does make sense. Well, let me back up a second. This unit, SEAL Team Six, Dev Group, whatever you want to call it, they keep changing the name, it falls under the command of what is called the Joint Special Operations Command. And attached to that are Delta Force, SEAL Team Six, the 1st Ranger battalion, excuse me, the 75th Rangers, and a bunch of other specialized groups – Air Force, Army helicopter pilots, most famously. I knew right away that the guys who were flying these birds were more than likely the guys from SOAR, which is the Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the 160th. And that is where President Obama went last week to congratulate everybody. And these were the pilots who were featured in Black Hawk Down, by the way. These are the guys who wait until it’s a stormy night, and it’s pouring rain, and they say let’s get in the helicopters, and fly 50 feet off the ground.

HH: Yeah.

VF: I mean, they’re just amazing at what they do. So first of all, it was Army helicopter pilots flying those helicopters. The medics, and let me back up, because there’s…let me walk you through what I heard in terms of how this thing unrolled.

HH: Okay.

VF: First of all, the two Pave Hawks, which are the advance avionics, and now they’ve got the stealth technology, they take off, and they’ve got 12 SEALs in the back of each of them. Now this makes complete sense. A 24 man SEAL strike team is a very typical number to assault. And let’s not forget that these guys have always been good, but they’re exceptionally good now, because for the last nine years, they’ve had a lot of practice.

HH: Right.

VF: …in Afghanistan and Iraq. And so these guys go in first. The Chinooks stay at the border and circle, because they obviously, they don’t have the stealth, those helicopters are huge, and they haven’t figured out a way to put any stealth technology on them. Now if you’ve ever talked to an F-117 Stealth pilot?

HH: And I have not.

VF: They’ll tell you…

HH: (laughing) Okay…

VF: Well, they will tell you that that bird, they call it a fighter, but it really isn’t. It’s a bomber. It’s a pig, because when you start to do, when you start to put stealth technology on an airframe, what you do is you lose your precision control. You lose some of your lift, you lose a lot of the sharpness of the aircraft. So when this, we found out that one of the copters, one of the choppers went down, because these guys never want to land if they don’t have to. The rule of thumb is they fast rope out. The little birds, they’ll set them down, because they can get up and down so quick. But in general, they do not want to set these things down. So when I heard that we lost one, my immediate…I had two reaction. The first one was it hit a wire. You know, this is not exactly OSHA-friendly country.

HH: Right, right.

VF: There’s wires all over the place. So my first thought was they hit a wire. And then my second thought was they actually, for some reason, decided to land, and misjudged it, and hit the back wall of the compound. What I confirmed yesterday was what my third theory was, was that when these guys are coming in at 160 miles an hour, 180 miles an hour hot, and they have a maneuver where they flare up, meaning they drop the tail end, and they bring the nose up to brake. And then they go level and the ropes go out, and they fast rope down. Now remember how I said with stealth technology you lose some of that precision of stick?

HH: Yup.

VF: Well, you also lose some lift, because part of what they’re doing with this new stealth technology is they are directing air from the engine through the tail rotor, for maneuverability. So what happened is they stalled. They went in and they did that flare up maneuver, and the engine stalled. And they just, this pilot, who these guys are, they’ve got major cajones, you know, to not panic in a situation like this…

HH: Of course.

VF: …set the thing down in the compound. The tail end hits the wall and snaps off.

HH: Hold that thought. I come back with Vince Flynn. I’m going to ask him next, did he think there was any chance that they were going to bring bin Laden back as a captive on this mission.

– – – –

HH: Vince, first question about the mission itself. What do you think the odds were that bin Laden was going to come out of that house trust up like the characters in Memorial Day for subsequent interrogation?

VF: About 1%.

HH: And why is that?

VF: We wanted to avoid a show trial. I mean, you think about, as a novelist, you’re constantly running through these scenarios. And you know, I’ve got to tell you, on night number two, I couldn’t resist the idea that he was, you know, floating on a container ship somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean having his fingernails pulled out, because that, by the way, burying the body at sea was absolutely ingenious. You cannot give this guy a shrine. But you know, we take him, we imprison him, and if Holder, that moron had his way, you know, we’d put him on trial in New York City. Now imagine all the suicide bombings we’d have, and the killings of American tourists to try to do that. This was the best, cleanest way. And I don’t know if you saw the 60 Minutes interview last week, but President Obama said it perfectly when he was asked about people criticizing him for killing him. And he said anybody who doesn’t think that this guy didn’t get what he deserved basically needs to have their head examined.

HH: Now Vince, I wonder if your novelist’s eye, when they picture of the Situation Room was released, and Eric Holder wasn’t in it, if your novelist’s eye noticed that, and if immediately started thinking about Peggy Stealey and all the other DOJ wienies you’ve created over the years?

VF: (laughing) It did. I absolutely did. And why…you know, I find it very interesting that nobody from the Justice Department is in this.

HH: You bet.

VF: I mean…well, here’s another interesting tidbit I learned. So the Chinooks that come in?

HH: Yup.

VF: There is a, apparently, there is a top field surgeon, and two field medics on one of those birds. And I have been told that they were not on the operation to help give medical aid to bin Laden or any of his people. They were on the mission solely to help any of our people who got hit. And the other fascinating deal, which this is pretty cool, the CIA had a six man exploitation team that came in, equipped with scanners. And they went through this place, because you know, the rationale is you’re not going to hide, you’re not just going to leave valuable information sitting on a nightstand, although it appears maybe he did, which just kind of boggles the mind. But five years into this, your security procedures get a little lax.

HH: Yup.

VF: But these guys went in, they scanned every wall, every floorboard, they had the dog in there sniffing for explosives. You know, they rightly…their biggest fear was this whole damn thing was going to blow up.

HH: Yup.

VF: And it was going to kill the whole strike team. So this thing, one of the biggest…and not enough people are saying this, all right, that a lot of people deserve credit, from the President, his national security team, all the way down, and including a lot of men and women who are no longer working for the government or the CIA, and specifically guys like Jose Rodriguez and Rob Richer, and the guys who ran the enhanced measures program, and the rendition program. That is where this stuff all started. If those programs were not in place, if W. hadn’t signed off on those, we would have never found these couriers, and we would have never found bin Laden.

HH: You know, John McCain is out arguing that point, and I’ll play that next hour. But he’s out arguing that point. I don’t think anyone can actually argue that point, Vince Flynn. Do you?

VF: No, here’s my problem, Hugh, and you should look this up sometime, because McCain wrote an op-ed in Newsweek four or five years ago, maybe longer. And he said, and I respect why he is against enhanced measures, okay? Being a POW, he has a unique perspective on it. But he said torture doesn’t work, and the example he gave was they used to ask me who the fellow pilots were in my squadron, and I would give them the starting offensive line for the Green Bay Packers. Listen, that’s not the way the CIA works. These rendition programs, if you talk to the people who ran them, and enhanced measures, they are like good attorneys in a courtroom. They do not ask a question that they don’t already know the answer to. And they’ve got these hooked up, they’re sleep deprived, they’re going through everything, and they, you give them the starting lineup for the Green Bay Packers, and they punch it into their database, and Google says this is the starting lineup for the Green Bay Packers.

HH: Right.

VF: You know, it doesn’t work this way.

HH: Any doubt in your mind, Vince, that we did use information developed from enhanced interrogation techniques to get this?

VF: There’s no…Hugh, I said it on your show years ago. I have been saying this forever, that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, we waterboarded the heck out of him, and you can go back and check your tapes, I’m pretty sure I said it on your show. I know I said it on O’Reilly, I’m talking years ago, that this guy ended up spilling the beans to the point where he literally was up on a white board with a marker diagramming the organizational structure of al Qaeda…

HH: Yeah, you said that here.

VF: …and telling us where their banks were in Germany, where their cells were. It was a font of information.

HH: But now are you surprised, in Memorial Day, one of the things that Rapp does when they grab the guys from Pakistan is they exploit it quickly so that they don’t drain the bank accounts, they don’t move the safe houses. Were you surprised we knew about this so quickly, and didn’t keep the lid on longer?

VF: You mean in the real world situation?

HH: Yeah.

VF: The thing that does absolutely surprise me, and you must give credit to Leon Panetta, the CIA and the national security team, is that nobody leaked this. It is the part of the story that actually surprises me more than, other than Hillary Clinton being the one leading the charge to not tell Pakistan, it’s the part of the story that just blows me away.

HH: But how about not, just waiting two days, Vince? You’re not criticizing the President, and I understand that, but are you surprised that we found out the night of the operation across international television?’

VF: That it was actually him, you mean?

HH: Yeah.

VF: No, because…well, they had everything…everything was pointing to the fact that it was him. Now on 60 Minutes, the President said they were 55% sure. I don’t want to be disrespectful here, but I’m going to have to call B.S. on that. That number was closer to 80. You don’t go into Pakistan…and the other deal was this. 80% sure it was Osama bin Laden. They were 100% sure the couriers were there. They were 100% sure that they would be able to grab computers and hard drives, and reel intel out of this place.

– – – –

HH: Thanks to Vince Flynn for spending this hour with me., the amazing American novelist. Vince, my last question is this. You have spent a lot of time over the last ten years putting yourself in the mind and in the place of the good guys. But you’ve also had to imagine the bad guys. And there’s a scene in Memorial Day, Al-Yamani is the bad guy there, the bin Laden figure, where he knows people are coming for him. What do you think bin Laden was thinking, and when he heard the sounds of whatever he heard crashing in the walled compound?

VF: Here’s what people forget. We’ll all human beings. If you are fortunate enough to become a father or a mother, and you have been, gone through that period in your life where you’re sleep deprived, and you’re woken up in the middle of the night and you remember just how out of your mind you are, this guy was woken up at 3 in the morning out of a dead sleep. And I don’t think he had any idea, probably for the first minute or two, what was going on. And then he realized holy crap, this is it. And I am surprised that he didn’t grab a gun and go out in a blaze of glory. I’m very surprised that his own bodyguards didn’t shoot him, because you do have to look at the theory, or the possibility that we would have grabbed him and waterboarded him.

HH: Yup.

VF: And so that part does surprise me. But I will say this. You know, you keep hearing this 40 minute operation on the ground deal? Have you ever seen how fast these SEALs move through a house?

HH: Right.

VF: I’m telling you right now, it was, 40 minutes was from the time they crossed the border to the time they shot him in the head.

HH: And last question, Vince, are you amazed at Memorial Day, and how well it matched up with what happened?

VF: Well, you know what’s weird? There was an operation that was cancelled five years ago that was virtually right out of Memorial Day. And I find out later through some people, Stan McChrystal, Petraeus, they’re all big fans of the books, Porter Goss, that they, that Memorial Day inspired them to put together and operation that they were going to do a very similar objective. They thought it was all Zawahiri, they were going to go over the border. I don’t know if W., he wouldn’t go near touching this thing, but I’ve been told Rumsfeld wouldn’t give it the green light.

HH: Interesting.

VF: So it’s, you know, I don’t know.

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