The father of William “Ryan” Owens, the Navy SEAL Team 6 member who was the first US combat death during US President Donald Trump’s presidency in January, urged the Trump administration to not “hide behind my son’s death” and provide answers.
In an interview with the Miami Herald, Bill Owens, also a Navy veteran, called for an investigation into the raid that left his son, an eight-year-old girl, and as many as 29 civilians dead.
US military sources told Reuters that the fledgling Trump administration executed the raid “without sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations.”
The Obama administration had originally vetted and approved the raid at the very end of Obama’s term, but put off the mission, as military planners thought it would be best to proceed on a moonless night.
The raid, which marked the first use of US ground troops in Yemen’s two-year-old civil war, resulted in the destruction of a $US70 million dollar MV-22 Osprey helicopter. It was criticised by Sen. John McCain of Arizona as a “failure.”
The White House has strongly pushed back on disapproval stemming from the raid.
“It’s absolutely a success,” said White House spokesman Sean Spicer on February 8 of the raid. Spicer later described it as a “huge success.”
“I think anyone who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and a disservice to the life of Chief Owens,” Spicer said. “The raid, the action that was taken in Yemen was a huge success. American lives will be saved because of it. Future attacks will be prevented.”
But Owens’ father suggested he has plenty of questions about the raid.
“Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why? For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen — everything was missiles and drones — because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?” Owens told the paper.
Furthermore, Owens demanded an investigation.
“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” Owens said. “I want an investigation. … The government owes my son an investigation.”
Spicer has justified the raid and its heavy losses by saying that the intelligence recovered from the Al Qaeda branch in Yemen would save future American lives.
Bill Roggio, editor of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies’ Long War Journal, previously told Business Insider that Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen does plan international attacks. He said some of the intelligence on these attacks can only be recovered by going in and actually confiscating hard drives.
“This is a branch that’s at the forefront of launching plots to blow up airliners and attack airlines,” Roggio said.
Roggio said it would be “hard to know” if the mission succeeded or not without seeing the intelligence recovered — “and we’re never going to see it.”
Trump made a surprise trip to pay respects to Owens’ casket as it returned to the US, but the elder Owens said he declined to meet the president.
“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Owens told the Herald.
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