Relatives of three Navy SEAL Team 6 members scheduled a press conference on May 9 at the Washington D.C., Press Club to share new information about how their sons died in a helicopter crash in August of 2011. The family of one Army National guardsman was also involved in the media event. The three Special Forces servicemen died along with 35 others when their helicopter was gunned down by insurgents. Thirty of those onboard were Americans; an interpreter and seven Afghans were also killed in the crash.
The deadly helicopter incident happened just several months after SEAL Team 6 raided Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound. Retired military experts joined the grieving relatives at the press conference. A press release about the news conference stated that the group believes the government is as responsible for the deaths of the Special Forces team as the Taliban.
Family members stated during the press meeting that the Chinook helicopter (call sign Extortion 17) did not have a gunship escort or any type of cover while it was attempting a nighttime landing during a Taliban incursion. Insurgents that were on the rooftop of a building used a rocket propelled grenade to shoot the helicopter to the ground.
The group of relatives and retired military members (now being called the Extortion 17 Whistleblowers) feel that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s announcement that Navy SEAL Team 6 raided Bin Laden’s compound and ultimately killed Osama bin Laden put a target on the back of the men.
Karen Vaugh, the mother of one of the Navy SEALs killed in the crash had this to say about one of the Special Forces unit’s worst combat losses:
“We demand to know who made the call to send our son into hostile territory where evidence proves a shoot down attempt had been in full force for weeks and in less than adequate, antiquated air frames documented to be in very poor conditions. We also discovered that [the helicopter] entered the battle zone that night completely unescorted with no pre-assault fire.”
The helicopter crash was initially reported as an incident which sprang from the rescue of Army Rangers embroiled in a firefight. It was later announced that the Rangers were in control of the area and were actually hunting for fleeing Taliban insurgents. Apache gunships reportedly could have accompanied the SEALs into the area, but were never ordered to assist with the mission.
Family members of three of the slain heroes also question why the team was sent into the battle without “proper air or a special operations support.” Extortion 17 Whistleblowers also voiced concerns about mid-level military brass carrying out too many “ill-prepared” missions. Those assembled at the press conference also feel that such missions are used to increase the middle level officers’ standing with the top brass and President Obama.
Included among the complaints relating to the Navy SEAL Team 6 helicopter crash are concerns about timely weapons fire restrictions placed upon soldiers. The group claims that special operations members and other soldiers are restricted from returning fire when attacked by the Taliban.
Larry Klayman, the attorney for the families, had this to say about the meeting with journalists:
“This press conference takes on special significance given that our government has, over the last twelve years since September 11, committed brave American servicemen to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that, in large part as a result of politics, were poorly conceived of and implemented, resulting in the deaths of thousands and the maiming of tens of thousands of our brave heroes. To make matters even worse, America has effectively lost these wars.”
Klayman is also the founder of Freedom Watch. He showed a video of a Muslim cleric praying at a Navy SEAL Team 6 member’s funeral at the beginning of the press conference. According to those participating in the press conference, military brass invited a Muslim cleric to the funeral for the fallen Navy SEAL Team 6 heroes. The families contend that the cleric disparaged (in Arabic) the memory of the Special Forces servicemen, by “damning them as infidels” to Allah. A video of the Muslim cleric’s prayer, complete with a certified translation, was reportedly shown at the press conference.
The Afghan forces which traveled with the Navy SEAL Team 6 members were allegedly not vetted properly before the excursion. The lack of supposed thoroughness leaves at least some of the mourning relatives to believe the Afghans could have shared classified details about the mission with the Taliban, resulting in the downed chopper.
While the Thursday press conference may not have been designed to address the ongoing search for facts in the Benghazi embassy attack, it does appear to touch upon many of the same concerns. Extortion 17 Whistleblowers want to know why and how the denial of a pre-assault weapons fire request may have impacted the shooting down of the helicopter.
The United States government simply cannot continue to send men and women into harm’s way and tie their hands while they attempt to do their jobs. Federal officials should have learned how dangerous such a mindset is after the war in Vietnam. Our soldiers are not fighting a uniformed army and deserve to have the same discretion to fire when threatened as police officers across the country.
Congress is still trying to garner even the most rudimentary facts about what happened at the U.S. Embassy attacks in Benghazi months after the terror attack which took the lives of four Americans.
The earlier Benghazi hearings with Hillary Clinton did not give either the relatives of those slain or the American public the answers we all deserve. Questions by Democrats amounted to nothing more than a fond farewell and love-fest for Clinton’s so-called “quality” service. The same day as the Navy SEAL Team 6 press conference, an American man in Cairo on a philanthropic academic project was stabbed in the neck. The man’s only crime was his birthplace.
President Barack Obama never neglects an opportunity to apologize for America or to send money overseas to help those who hate us while lamenting the fiscal woes here at home. Roman citizens once roamed the world unafraid of being harmed by others. Invoking the name of their homeland was virtually all the protection they needed. While United States citizens did not ever reach quite the same stature, American citizens did once garner a wide swath of respect and fear of retribution when abroad.