At a time when the White House finds itself having to do some fancy footwork over its doctoring of official talking points in the wake of the Benghazi terrorist attack last Sept. 11, a new scandal has emerged that threatens further political damage to the administration. The Washington Times reports that the families of Navy SEAL Team 6 killed in an August 2011 downing of a helicopter in Afghanistan came forward Thursday to blast the U.S. command and the Obama administration for the mission and to call for an official investigation into what they deem a whitewash.
In a press conference, surviving family members of the 17 SEALs who were killed when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter went down in a firey crash rebuked the White House “for its extensive leaking of details of the Osama bin Laden raid in May 2011,” which they claim “put a target on the heads of the members of the doomed mission in Afghanistan.” The mission, they add, was hastily planned, noting that the helicopter had no gunship escort as it attempted a 2 a.m. landing, making it an easy target for Taliban with rocket-propelled grenades.
[Video of press conference here]
Karen Vaughn, whose son, Aaron, was killed, said:
We demand to know who made the call to send our sons into hostile territory where evidence proves a shootdown attempt had been in full force for weeks and in less-than-adequate, antiquated air frames documented to be in very poor condition.
We also discovered that [the Chinook] entered the battle zone that night completely unescorted with no pre-assault fire. We were told pre-assault fire damaged our efforts to win the hearts and minds of our enemy.… The operation was spun up with such urgency that many mistakes were made.
There’s more. The groups that organized the news conference, held at the National Press Club, said a Muslim cleric chosen by the U.S. command to speak at a memorial service for the fallen service men insulted their memories. According to an English translation of a video of the service, the cleric condemned the dead to hell and mocked “the God of Moses.”
A Pentagon spokesman issued a statement, reading:
First, I want to say that we share in the grief of all of the families who lost their loved ones. The loss of 38 U.S. and Afghan military personnel was a tragic loss during a difficult campaign. The 30 U.S. casualties represent the diversity and talent of America and its military; these warriors served in three services (Army, Navy, and Air Force), in special operations and conventional units, and represented Reserve and active-duty units from 20 states.
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