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Hannity

Navy SEAL who killed Usama bin Laden goes inside the mission step by step

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 14, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Joining us now is the Navy SEAL responsible for Usama bin Laden's death, retired Navy SEAL Rob O'Neill. And we have a studio audience here today.

(APPLAUSE)

HANNITY: It's a great honor to meet you.

ROBERT O'NEILL, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Thank you for having me on.

HANNITY: Peter Doocy is also with us. And I got to tell you, I think this was one of the best specials I've watched. To hear your story inspired me. And as I was sitting here thinking about this opportunity that we're going to have with you tonight, I can hear this story over and over again.

Walk us through -- let's start -- the training. You get the call.  And walk us through that process again.

O'NEILL: We were told about a mission that we were going to go do.  It wasn't training. It was a different cycle for us. We normally had people that were prepared for a cycle like this, but for some reason, they pulled a group of us together. They told us vaguely about what was going to happen. We eventually figured it out, and they did confirm -- the way it was told to us was the commanding officer of SEAL Team 6 said, We're as close as we've ever been to Usama bin Laden.

HANNITY: And how long into the training was that?

O'NEILL: This was about two days into the -- from the time they told us until the -- the time they told us we were going to do something to the time that they told us who we were going after.

And our initial reaction was, "Well, are we going right now?" And there was none of that cheering and clapping. It was professionals saying, "OK, we're ready today."

There was a need for us to go through a few contingencies, and they had something set up for us, so we did train for about 10 days total. And then we left for overseas so we could be forward deployed in case the call was made for us to launch.

HANNITY: And it's interesting because they had the compound.

O'NEILL: Yes.

HANNITY: They'd been monitoring it. And they had a markup of the compound. And you trained hard for that day.

O'NEILL: Right. Right.

HANNITY: OK. Walk us through the training for that.

O'NEILL: Well, we didn't -- we came up with what we thought was the best plan, and we worked through that a few times. But we're also smart enough to know that the only time the perfect plan works is in the planning room. Once you leave, Murphy shows up and everything changes.

So we tried to think of everything that we could. What's going to happen if this happens? What if this happens? And I think towards the end, "Well, what's the worst thing that could happen?" And it was, "Well, the worst thing that could happen is the first helicopter crashes in the front yard."

HANNITY: Sure.

O'NEILL: It was like, "Well, let's talk about that for a little bit."

HANNITY: Was that one of the things you actually had a contingency for?

O'NEILL: We did, yes.

HANNITY: Yes. It's amazing...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: ... amount of training. I don't think any of us could ever go through the training of "hell week" and what you do to become a Navy SEAL, which is so inspiring. So you went on this mission -- and this speaks volumes about you and your fellow Navy SEALs. You didn't think you were coming home.

O'NEILL: We were 90 percent certain it was a one-way mission. We were probably going to die, just based on what could happen before we got there, getting shot down. If Pakistan shot us down -- we were flying in their country without permission -- they were justified.

When we get to the house, if any house is going to blow up, it's going to be this house. If there's a house where there's going to be suicide bombers, it will be this house. And if any one target will have a suicide vest on, it'll be him.

So that'll happen. And then just with everything else -- if we run out of fuel, which was a concern, or if we spend too much time on target, the Pakistani police or the Pakistan military could show up. It would turn into a big political negotiation and we might end up in a prison as a tool -- as tools of some sort of -- some sort of bartering. And we didn't think we'd last long in a Pakistani prison.

So, we were pretty sure we weren't coming back, but because of what happened on 9/11, it was worth it.

HANNITY: You get the go. Before you go, you write these letters to your family.

O'NEILL: Yes.

HANNITY: You have one last phone call with your dad.

O'NEILL: Yes.

HANNITY: I know you've gotten rid of the letters.

O'NEILL: I did.

HANNITY: Tell us again what you said in those letters and that call with your dad.

O'NEILL: You know, the reason that I shredded the letters is I didn't want to relive them. But it was something along the lines of, not talking to you today but talking to you 20 years from now, and here's why we did it and why it was noble. But the second I got back -- and it was -- writing the letters was I couldn't write a letter and give it to a teammate and say, "You know who to give this to," because my teammate would be dead next to me. I had to find...

HANNITY: Where'd you leave them?

O'NEILL: I found someone I could trust on the base with instructions, if something happens -- and we can't tell you where we're going, but if something happens in the next few days, here's instructions. Please make this happen.

HANNITY: Hard thing to do.

O'NEILL: It is.

HANNITY: To write to your kids.

O'NEILL: It is.

HANNITY: Yes. And you wrote specific instructions, told them why you did it.

(CROSSTALK)

O'NEILL: ... justification of how it was worth it. And you'll know.  And then I called my father right as we were leaving. I did call him and I just sort of thanked him for everything he'd done. Thanks for, you know, teaching me teamwork on the basketball court and all this stuff, and basically thanking him for teaching me how to hunt and how to shoot. And he could tell something was going on, and it was pretty emotional. And the first time he ever told me the whole story was when I watched on the documentary because he could never get through it.

HANNITY: Twenty minutes in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

O'NEILL: That's what he said, yes.

HANNITY: That's a long time.

O'NEILL: He was wandering around the Wal-Mart, and he ran into his sister who brought him home and asked if he was OK.

HANNITY: Yes, wondering what's going to happen. All right. So then it's a go. You get in the helicopter. Walk us through.

O'NEILL: Well, we get in the helicopter and we took off from an airfield. We were used to flying north on the river. And we would turn left into some of the valleys, some of the famous valleys of Ponar (ph) province. This time, we turned right, and we crossed into Pakistan. And the pilots told us we're in Pakistan now.

HANNITY: You knew it was a 90-minute flight.

O'NEILL: Ninety minutes, yes. And then so we knew we had a long time to fly inside of Pakistan. And guys didn't -- guys realize, like I said, that we could take a missile at any time. And in order not to think about that, guys were doing different things, falling asleep, which is -- you know, you would think that's kind of silly.

HANNITY: No, I think it's actually...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: If I'm going to go, I want to go in my sleep.

(LAUGHTER)

HANNITY: I liked your method, though. It was very interesting.

O'NEILL: I was counting. I'd just learned -- I'd done a lot of work as a sniper in training and a lot of work -- reconnaissance and surveillance in Kosovo, where we would watch different towns. And you're out there for days at a time, watching. And I would just count to pass the time. You just count slower and faster, in a different cadence, and then up to a thousand and start going backwards.

HANNITY: Did they teach -- I wonder, did they teach you that when you were...

O'NEILL: I'm sure -- an older sniper told me that, a trick that they used, and it seemed to make sense.

HANNITY: Yes. And so you get 80 miles...

(CROSSTALK)

O'NEILL: About 80 minutes in, and we turn to the south. And somewhere in between it -- and I'd heard the quote a lot, but I don't know why I remembered it, but I was something like 556, 557, 558 -- "Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended." And I still get goosebumps when I say that. And I thought to myself, "How did I remember that?" And that's much better than counting.  "I'm going to say that again." And I said it one more time. And then I was, like, "You know what? I'm on this mission."

HANNITY: Yes. So take us -- you arrive. That is your mantra in your mind. You didn't know that the first helicopter had actually gone down...

O'NEILL: No.

HANNITY: ... because you got off your helicopter. The first helicopter had crashed. And we have people in the Situation Room...

O'NEILL: Right.

HANNITY: Walk us -- you were the first off, if I remember.

O'NEILL: Well, we let our external security out. And we were -- the rest of us were going to stay on and go to the rooftop. The pilot went up a little bit, and he came down. And just by that communication, we knew it was time to get off. He didn't say anything to us, but we knew we were going to start the fight from right here.

We knew something happened with the other helicopter because we heard them say something about going around, or doing something. And we assumed it had taken fire and they were just moving to a better position. We didn't know that they went down in the front yard. I didn't know it, anyway.

But we did know, just based on, like I said, we're prepared for whatever. And one of our plans were, if we landed on the north side, we're going to this northeast gate. So we went to that gate and we put a bomb on it and blew it up. And then the guy that put the bomb on let us know that it failed. And some people thought that was bad. I thought it was good because it's a fake door. There's a wall behind this. It's important.  Someone important's here.

HANNITY: You knew that that was probably, then...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: ... if you had any doubt.

O'NEILL: Yes. Well, we didn't have a doubt. But we knew we -- you know, a fake door is like a pump fake, and that's someone important's here.  So we'll go to the next door, and we're going to put a bomb on that. We announced it over the radio, and the guys inside just said, "Well, hang on, we'll open it for you." We didn't know how they got there, but our guys were inside. They opened the door, and we went in behind them.

HANNITY: This to me is one of the most fascinating things. You're on a mission. You don't know if you're coming back. You're there. You'd practiced this for such a long time. And I can't imagine the feelings that one -- I know you're taught to probably manage your emotions and adrenaline...

O'NEILL: Yes.

HANNITY: ... but you're there. What are you feeling?

O'NEILL: I remember looking up at the house, and having seen the picture so many times and planned on -- I mean, knowing exactly which part of the compound that I'm in, looking up at my house, and my thought was, "This is so cool. We're here."

HANNITY: Walk us through then the mission because now you're inside.

O'NEILL: Now we're inside. I went inside the -- it was the south door, which was the main door. And a lot of SEALs were already inside. I went in -- it was a long hallway, and there were doors off to -- excuse me, there were -- yes, doors and rooms off to both sides.

I went into one -- the first room on the right because I could see the SEALs up ahead of me. There was one door at the end of the long hallway that was barricaded, and they were working that problem with whatever methods we have to open other doors. And I just kind of watched them from there.

HANNITY: Right.

O'NEILL: I just -- I watched them do it. There was a point where there was -- there were some kids around, and guys were actually rounding up kids to put them with adults because, you know, like I said in the documentary, you know, we're the good guys.

HANNITY: Yes.

O'NEILL: And we make sure that these kids have nothing to do with any of this. We don't want them to be more afraid than they already are. So we're doing all this. And at that point, one of the guys reminded -- or didn't reminded me, he told me the helicopter he was on crashed. And I assumed it was one of the other helicopters that were following us in. And I said, "Which helicopter?" And he said, "Our helicopter crashed in the front yard. You walked right past it."

HANNITY: Wow.

O'NEILL: So...

HANNITY: All right, we're going to pick it up inside the compound...

O'NEILL: OK.

HANNITY: ... when we get back.

O'NEILL: Great.

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