Truthdigger of the Week: Bill Owens, for Questioning a Raid That Killed His Navy SEAL Son
Posted on Mar 4, 2017
The still image above from a Democracy Now! video shows Carryn Owens, center, the widow of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens, during President Trump’s address to Congress. At right is Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.
Plenty of questions surround the botched raid in Yemen that took place on Jan. 28, and Arizona Sen. John McCain isn’t the only one asking them. Bill Owens, the father of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens, who died in the raid, and a former member of the military himself, has been vocal about his doubts about the mission.
Although the raid was planned during the Obama administration, the former president delayed signing off on it for a number of reasons, including concerns that it could escalate U.S. involvement in Yemen. The mission consisted of a plan to send the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 in to “scoop up cellphones and laptop computers that could yield valuable clues about one of the world’s most dangerous terrorist groups,” according to The New York Times. However, “almost everything that could go wrong did,” the Times reported.
While such missions are usually discussed in the White House situation room, the Yemen raid was approved by President Trump at a Jan. 25 dinner with former national security adviser Mike Flynn and other top members of his team.
The Navy SEAL raid turned into a firefight that took the lives of up to 29 civilians—including several children—as well as Owens, a 37-year-old father of three, and the information obtained during the mission has been called into question.
In an interview with the Miami Herald, Owens’ father said he refused to meet Trump when his son’s body was delivered, and he called for an investigation into the mission that took his son’s life. He suspects that the raid was approved for political reasons six days into the new president’s term. Owens also worried that Trump’s “Muslim ban”—which would disallow travel to the United States by Yemenis and was declared the day before the mission was to take place—may have alienated allies and possibly caused leaks. Here are several excerpts from his interview:
While these are still solely speculations, Owens’ insistence that a thorough investigation take place highlights some of the issues with U.S. missions in the Middle East. Trump’s response to the tragedy in which so many lives were lost has been to ignore Owens’ call for an investigation, disregard the civilian lives lost, blame his generals for any failings and seemingly use Ryan’s widow, Carryn Owens, as a political prop in his address to Congress on Tuesday.
In a piece for The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald pointed out that this sort of behavior is commonplace for American presidents, and indeed it won Trump the approval of media critics such as CNN commentator Van Jones, who described him as presidential in his treatment of Carryn. Greenwald wrote:
Greenwald’s piece reveals a perhaps unintentional consequence of Owens’ refusal to allow the mission to fade into memory as Trump insists it was “highly successful.” While Owens is, understandably, focused on the details of his son’s death, his call for an investigation will keep the raid and the 30 mostly civilian deaths present in the papers and American’s minds. Moreover, an investigation could bring to light political motives of war that are often obscured by our leaders. For his brave refusal to allow a failed mission to go unscrutinized, Bill Owens is our Truthdigger of the Week.
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