Did the Obama administration put a target on the backs of members of Navy SEAL Team 6? This is the question that parents of slain SEALs are now asking — and rightly so. Forget Benghazi, the IRS, Eric H. Holder Jr. and the National Security Agency spying on U.S. citizens. Important as these scandals are, what happened to SEAL Team 6 could very well dwarf them. Our government betrayed America’s finest warriors.
Navy SEAL Team 6 became a household name for their role in killing Osama bin Laden. On May 1, 2011, the country rightly celebrated the death of bin Laden. The Obama administration, however, wanted to do more. It sought to claim full credit for the assassination, deciding to spike the football. On May 3, at an event in Washington, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. did the unthinkable: He publicly revealed the identity of the special-operations unit responsible for bin Laden’s killing. His reckless action put at risk the lives of every member of SEAL Team 6. The Taliban and other jihadists eager to avenge bin Laden now knew which unit to target. Stunned and shocked, SEAL members immediately realized they were going to be hunted by al Qaeda sympathizers.
Karen Vaughn, the mother of slain SEAL Aaron Vaughn, says that within hours after Mr. Biden’s comments, her son called to tell her to wipe away every piece of information regarding the family on social media, Facebook and Twitter. “I never heard Aaron that afraid in his life,” Mrs. Vaughn said in an interview. “He told me: ‘Mom, we’re picking up chatter. We’re not safe. You’re not safe. Delete everything.’”
According to Mrs. Vaughn, Mr. Biden essentially placed a bull’s-eye on her son’s back — and that of all the other SEALs. He leaked classified information. SEAL Team 6 is a covert unit, which is supposed to operate in the shadows. This is how they are able to conduct deadly raids on terrorist groups. Their reward, however, for killing the world’s foremost terrorist mastermind was to be outed by their own government.
Yet, the betrayal did not stop there. On Aug. 6, 2011, a Chinook helicopter carrying 30 U.S. service members — including 15 SEAL Team 6 members — was shot down in Afghanistan. Everyone on board was killed. The rescue team was sent to aid an Army Ranger unit battling the Taliban and desperately in need of backup. The Chinook was shot down by a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade in Wardak province. Taliban fighters were waiting on three sides for the aircraft as it approached. The Chinook was a sitting duck as it hovered in the sky. The evidence is overwhelming and disturbing: SEAL Team 6 members were ambushed. It was America’s single greatest loss of life in Afghanistan and the largest number of SEALs ever killed in one incident in history.
Recently, parents of the slain SEAL members held a news conference at the National Press Club. They are rightly demanding a congressional investigation. They have numerous troubling questions. Why was the Chinook not provided a military escort plane, as is standard military procedure when a special-operations unit conducts a raid? Why were the SEALs placed on an outdated aircraft built in the 1960s? Why were they not flying in a special-operations aircraft that is designed to take enemy fire and go deep behind enemy lines? Why were they ordered not to return fire against the tower from where insurgents were firing? Did the strict rules of engagement cause the deaths of our service members?
The most troubling question of all is, why did seven of the eight Afghans on that aircraft board at the last minute? They were not on the flight manifest, which was a gross violation of military procedure. The original Afghans scheduled to be on that Chinook were replaced just prior to the mission. In other words, the SEALs were accompanied by strangers. They could very possibly have been Taliban suicide bombers posing as Afghan soldiers. Did someone from within the corrupt Afghan regime betray our troops?
The scandal only gets worse. Mrs. Vaughn said that her family received a DVD from the U.S. military that recorded the funeral services in Afghanistan for her dead son, as well as the other slain SEALs. To the parents’ horror, a Muslim cleric presided over the services. In Arabic, he damned the “infidel” SEALs, condemning their souls “to hell.”
“I was disgusted,” Mrs. Vaughn said. “We went to multiple translators to make sure we got the imam’s exact words correct. All of the translators told us the same thing. I couldn’t believe that this cleric was allowed to so openly disrespect and insult our son and the other American soldiers.”
The U.S. military’s practice of using Islamic clerics at funeral services is part of Washington’s supposed outreach to the Muslim world. In reality, it is national self-abasement masquerading as multicultural tolerance. Aaron Vaughn valiantly served his country. Yet our military couldn’t even give him a proper, respectful funeral. He was betrayed — in life and in death. He was placed in a war zone with severe rules of engagement that eventually cost him and his fellow SEALs their lives.
Mr. Biden is no bumbling fool. Rather, his deliberate, reckless disclosure placed SEAL Team 6 in mortal jeopardy. He and his boss, President Obama, exploited them in order to boost their re-election chances. The SEALs, however, paid the ultimate price. Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden have American blood on their hands. The parents of the dead SEALs deserve to know the truth about what really happened on that final mission. Our finest warriors were killed and, possibly, sacrificed. It’s time for a congressional investigation. Or do we no longer care?
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a radio commentator on WRKO AM-680 in Boston.