At last, the request of families of SEAL Team VI DEVGRU warriors killed in Afghanistan in the Extortion 17 Op, may be honored by a Congressional hearing into the incident. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told The Hill today “We’re going to dive into this.” Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on National Security, met with the families of the fallen about a month ago. He is prepared to send questions to the Pentagon, and indicated hearings into the matter may be held. The families say the answers they have sought into the death of 30 Americans, including SEAL Team 6 members, have not been forthcoming.
The Navy SEALs and other Spec Ops Forces, were killed in the Tangi River Valley on August 6, 2011, only three months after Osama bin Laden was killed by members of the elite Navy SEALs DEVGRU Team VI. Immediately following the successful Op, Vice President Biden and Leon Panetta publicly released classified information which revealed the involvement of SEAL Team VI in bin Laden’s death. That information, according to the families, put a target on the back of Team 6 which extended even to their families.
At least two of the fathers of the fallen SEALs reported personal pleas to President Obama two years ago requesting more information about the incident. Charles Strange, father of Michael Strange, has stated that he asked Obama to investigate, and upon Obama’s response praising Michael’s service, stated “I don’t need to know about my son. I need to know what happened to my son.” Billy Vaughn, father of Aaron Vaughn, has also reported requesting more information from the President two years ago.
The incident in which the SEALs, and other Special Ops Forces were killed, represents the largest single incident death toll for the U.S. military during the war in Afghanistan, surpassing Operation Red Wing in 2005, in terms of numbers. The men, who all perished in the Chinook helicopter shot down by Taliban Jihadists, consisted of Navy SEALs, other Spec Ops Forces, Army National Guard, Army Reserve crewmen, Afghan commandos, one Afghan interpreter, and one U.S. Military Working Dog.
Charles Strange also met with Jason Chaffetz, and Darrell Issa (R-CA), Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman. Two of the victims in the Extortion 17 OP were from Chaffetz’s district. According to Strange, Obama promised he would investigate, but he never received a reply. The families were given information which was incomplete and contradictory, adding to the frustration and questions. The Pentagon’s response to the families’ inquiries revealed no inclination toward any specific targeting, or retaliation, of the Team VI SEALs’ involvement in bin Laden’s death. The official position of the Department of Defense, was that the Chinook was taken down by a “lucky shot” from a low-level resident in the Tangi River Valley area, yet there are several suspicious circumstances surrounding the entire mission. Strange has reported that bragging was seen online by insurgents, insisting they had taken out Team VI members, after the crash.
Among other suspicious elements, the families point to the fact that 7 Afghan commandos were replaced at the last second, prior to the Chinook’s takeoff. The men listed on the manifest were not the men who died, and no one has given a definitive answer, as to who ordered their replacement. DOD officials have confirmed that the manifest was incorrect. Billy Vaughn, in a radio interview two weeks ago, stated that his son Aaron indicated a lack of trust in the Afghans, which also brings into question the Rules of Engagement set forth by the military, requiring American forces to rely upon that trust more and more. Vaughn stated that his son indicated “You can’t tell them (the Afghan forces) where you are going until you get there, or else they know you are coming.” Billy Vaughn said “Our military leaders keep subjecting our guys to being with these so-called allies who can’t be trusted.”
Also of great interest to the families, has been the report of the Chinook’s black box “floating away” after the incident. The government blamed the absence of the black box’s recovery on a flood in the area, right after the crash. The families were told all of the bodies from the crash were cremated, after the fact. Permission to do so was not requested, or granted. The Hill‘s report referenced Rep Chaffetz stating that he had seen a photo of one of the deceased SEALs and that his body was not badly burned, as the government had reported, for the reason of the cremation. Chaffetz said “The body I saw didn’t need to be cremated”, and in regard to the missing black box, he asserted that the government’s failure to recover it seems “awfully odd.” Chaffetz stated that the families deserve answers and “That’s why you do an investigation. I want to be as factual as I can.”
One of the most disturbing elements occurring after the deaths of the U.S. servicemen, which has been particularly difficult to accept by the families, is the presence of the imam at Bagram Air Base, where an Islamic prayer was said over the caskets of our brave Americans. No prior knowledge or approval was given by the families for the imam being there, and yet our military allowed it. Billy and Karen Vaughn hired several reputable translators to go through the audio clip of the imam’s prayer, and learned that the imam cursed the Americans, proclaimed the Muslims to be the winner, called the Americans “infidels”, and damned them to hellfire. The audio clip was translated, and the words verified, by at least eight certified translators. Karen Vaughn stated that the imam’s presence caused her and her husband’s jaws to drop and their stomachs to turn. She stated that “Our son, we know, is in heaven, for that we are not concerned. But what we are furious…livid over…is that in an act of appeasement, they (U.S. military) allowed the final disgrace of American soldiers. It is one of the most, other than his death; it’s the most offensive thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”
An investigation into Extortion 17, and the deaths of the brave American heroes, must occur. The families deserve better than what they have received so far, and must have answers. Before Benghazi, there was Extortion 17, and it still demands the truth to be told, and revealed fully.
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Originally published July 24, 2013 by Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children with permission from author.