Eight elite underdogs

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Special Operations Command is calling a former Navy SEAL's alternate version of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden a bogus work of fiction.

"It's just not true," U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman Col. Tim Nye said.

Rife with conspiracy theories and attacks on the Obama White House, Chuck Pfarrer's book, "SEAL Target Geronimo," claims an alternative version of the raid in which the SEAL team shot bin Laden within 90 seconds of arriving at the Pakistan compound where the al-Qaida leader hid.

Pfarrer claims the White House issued a fictional and damaging account of the raid that made the SEALs looks inept. He said President Barack Obama's speedy acknowledgement of the raid was a craven political move that rendered much of the intelligence gathered on the raid useless.

Pfarrer's account broke into Amazon's top 20 book sales list last week, and Pfarrer has appeared on Fox News, CNN and in other venues to promote it.

"I have truth on my side," Pfarrer told the AP. "I spoke to the guys on the ground and in the secondary bird," he said, referring to the aircraft carrying a second SEAL team as a backup rescue squad.

"This is a fabrication," Nye countered, issuing an on-the-record denial on behalf of Navy SEAL Adm. Bill McRaven, who took command of all special operations in midyear.

In his previous role, McRaven oversaw the May raid as head of the elite counterterrorism unit Joint Special Operations Command. Nye said McRaven was concerned the book would lead Americans to doubt the White House's version of events.

Pfarrer had no access to troops connected to the mission, Nye said. He said there will be no probe into whether individual SEALs spoke to Pfarrer because his account is so off-base.

Among his other claims, Pfarrer insists the stealth helicopter that the White House said crashed within moments of launching the raid actually crashed later. He said the SEALs were able to launch their raid as they had planned it, by landing atop the building while another team surged from below.

Pfarrer also said the way the White House described the SEALs shooting bin Laden -- that he was unarmed but trying to evade them -- is "murder." He said his version, which has bin Laden reaching for a gun, makes the killing legal.

Officials involved in the raid said Pfarrer is out of date on the post-9/11 laws of war, which sanction targeting al-Qaida with deadly force.

Pfarrer said he is fighting a losing battle with cancer and the book profits will help pay medical bills.

He claims he is part of the fighting SEAL network, even intimating he was part of the bin Laden raid preparation.

"It was my privilege to help troops and platoons train for submissions and run parallel HVT (high-value target) missions," Pfarrer writes.

"That is categorically incorrect," Nye said.

Pfarrer responded that he conducted training for SEAL Team 6's parent organization, the Naval Special Warfare Command, through his defense security company Acme Ballistics. He refused to describe how it was related to the raid, saying the contracts are classified.

But Pfarrer gets many facts wrong in describing events that are part of the public record.

For instance, Pfarrer states Obama appointed McRaven as the first Navy SEAL to head JSOC in April. McRaven was appointed in early 2008 by President George W. Bush.

Special operations leaders said Pfarrer is at best misinformed. "The reaction is stunned, chagrined, disappointment," said retired Navy SEAL Rear Adm. George Worthington.