Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Blog
May 16

Written by: Diana West
Thursday, May 16, 2013 6:14 PM 

This week's syndicated column

Grief and politics don’t mix. When raw, aching grief and the dirtiest kind of politics meet, a hot volcano of pain and outrage erupts that is unstoppable. But it is necessary. It is the only way things might ever be clean again.

I am thinking of recent casket transfer ceremonies that have taken place at Dover Air Force Base, where senior administration officials have used the solemn occasions – Benghazi, the shoot-down of Extortion 17 – less to comfort grieving families than to lay blame, to establish a narrative, to lie.

Think of Sean Smith’s mother. Think of Tyrone Woods’ father. After the Obama administration’s hugs came the Obama administration’s stonewalling. They still don’t have answers about what happened in Benghazi on the night of Sept. 11, 2012.

We don’t either.

We still don’t know who in the U.S. government gave the order not to rescue Americans under fire for eight and a half hours, and how and why such an unconscionable order was given. We still don’t know who convinced senior White House officials to tell grieving parents meeting their children’s caskets that a video-maker, not jihad against the West, was to blame for the assault that took four American lives – or what the political motivation was.

This is a national disgrace.

But before Benghazi, there was Extortion 17, the call sign of a Special Operations mission in Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2011. Three months after the strike on Osama bin Laden, 30 Americans – including 15 from the bin Laden strike-team unit, Navy SEAL Team 6, and two other SEALs – were killed in the costliest single-day loss for the U.S. military in the Afghanistan war, and the largest SEAL loss ever. A “lucky shot” in the dark brought down the old CH-47 Chinook helicopter attempting to land them in the middle of an ongoing battle in Wardak Province. Or so the U.S. military claims. The families are not so sure.

Then again, they’re not sure about anything. The runaround, the lies, the callous disregard they have received at the hands of the government and military is similar to Benghazi, maybe worse.

“We go to Dover to see bodies, and we’re all in the hangar down there,” Charles Strange, father of slain SEAL Michael Strange, recalled last week before a rapt audience at the National Press Club, where several Extortion 17 families gathered to call on Congress to investigate. “And President Obama comes up to me and he says, ‘Mr. Strange’ – and he grabs me by the shoulders – ‘Michael changed the way America lives.’ I grabbed Mr. President by the shoulders and I said: ‘I don’t need to know about my son, I need to know what happened, Mr. President.’

Strange continued. “The Secret Service guys grabbed me. I’m crying. He went to give me a hug. I whispered in his ear: ‘Mr. President, Is there going to be a congressional inquiry?’ And Mr. President whispered in my ear – and I could feel his lips touch – and he said, ‘Mr. Strange, we’re going to look into this very, very, very deep.’ Well, I haven’t heard nothing.”

Nothing that makes sense, anyway. A military investigation led by then-Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Colt (since promoted to major general) tells us there was no “eye in the sky” that night. Why not? No forces had been sent in to prepare the area. Why not?

More sickening was the fact that rules of engagement prevented suppressive fire from being aimed at the tower firing on the Chinook. Billy Vaughn, father of slain SEAL Aaron Vaughn, recalled how a three-star admiral explained this breach to the grieving families: U.S. forces couldn’t fire back, the admiral said, because “we want to win hearts and minds.” As Mr. Strange later put it: “What about my heart? What about my mind?”

American hearts and minds don’t count with this U.S. government – and that is our national tragedy until we change the government.

What commander is responsible for assembling so many SEALs in one inadequate aircraft, for this particular landing site, for a mission many believe was in fact unnecessary? Extortion 17 took off three months after the strike on bin Laden, three months after the Obama administration blew SEAL Team 6′s cover in the bin Laden raid, three months after intelligence indicated the Taliban were out for revenge. “The chain of command” was responsible, the families were told. Who were they? No answer.

Why was there no gunship escort that night? What happened in the final minutes of Extortion 17? The black box was never recovered, the military insists. Really? What about the seven Afghan soldiers who joined the mission at the last minute, replacing Afghans previously scheduled to fly? No one knows the identities of this last-minute group, or why they flew that day. More troubling still, military investigators didn’t interview Afghan commanders to find out.

Why not? To win their “hearts and minds,” too? The word for that is “submission.” Such submission also explains the appalling inclusion of an imam at the casket transfer ceremony in Afghanistan – a ceremony preceding the transport of the dead bodies, American and Afghan, to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where they would finally be identified. (This makes families wonder whether American sons lay in caskets draped with the Afghan flag.) There, in the midst of an otherwise ecumenical ceremony (devoid of any mention of Jesus Christ), the imam invoked Allah, while establishing that Muslims reside in heaven and non-Muslims reside in hell.

Standard Islamic fare, to be sure, but this is the same supremacist basis of the jihad that killed the men of Extortion 17. No wonder the families are doubly outraged.

As should we all be. Congress must investigate Extortion 17 and find out exactly what happened, and who bears responsibility. It is the very least we can do for our people.

Tags:
Archive
<January 2023>
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
25262728293031
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930311234
Monthly
January, 2023
December, 2022
November, 2022
October, 2022
September, 2022
August, 2022
July, 2022
June, 2022
May, 2022
April, 2022
March, 2022
February, 2022
January, 2022
December, 2021
November, 2021
October, 2021
September, 2021
August, 2021
July, 2021
June, 2021
May, 2021
April, 2021
March, 2021
February, 2021
January, 2021
December, 2020
November, 2020
October, 2020
September, 2020
August, 2020
July, 2020
June, 2020
May, 2020
April, 2020
March, 2020
February, 2020
January, 2020
December, 2019
November, 2019
October, 2019
September, 2019
August, 2019
July, 2019
June, 2019
May, 2019
April, 2019
March, 2019
February, 2019
January, 2019
December, 2018
November, 2018
October, 2018
September, 2018
August, 2018
July, 2018
June, 2018
May, 2018
April, 2018
March, 2018
February, 2018
January, 2018
December, 2017
November, 2017
October, 2017
September, 2017
August, 2017
July, 2017
June, 2017
May, 2017
April, 2017
March, 2017
February, 2017
January, 2017
December, 2016
November, 2016
October, 2016
September, 2016
August, 2016
July, 2016
June, 2016
May, 2016
April, 2016
March, 2016
February, 2016
January, 2016
December, 2015
November, 2015
October, 2015
September, 2015
August, 2015
July, 2015
June, 2015
May, 2015
April, 2015
March, 2015
February, 2015
January, 2015
December, 2014
November, 2014
October, 2014
September, 2014
August, 2014
July, 2014
June, 2014
May, 2014
April, 2014
March, 2014
February, 2014
January, 2014
December, 2013
November, 2013
October, 2013
September, 2013
August, 2013
July, 2013
June, 2013
May, 2013
April, 2013
March, 2013
February, 2013
January, 2013
December, 2012
November, 2012
October, 2012
September, 2012
August, 2012
July, 2012
June, 2012
May, 2012
April, 2012
March, 2012
February, 2012
January, 2012
December, 2011
November, 2011
October, 2011
September, 2011
August, 2011
July, 2011
June, 2011
May, 2011
April, 2011
March, 2011
February, 2011
January, 2011
December, 2010
November, 2010
October, 2010
September, 2010
August, 2010
July, 2010
June, 2010
May, 2010
April, 2010
March, 2010
February, 2010
January, 2010
December, 2009
November, 2009
October, 2009
September, 2009
August, 2009
July, 2009
June, 2009
May, 2009
April, 2009
March, 2009
February, 2009
January, 2009
December, 2008
November, 2008
October, 2008
September, 2008
August, 2008
July, 2008
June, 2008
May, 2008
April, 2008
March, 2008
February, 2008
January, 2008
December, 2007
November, 2007
October, 2007
September, 2007
August, 2007
Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use
Copyright 2012 by Diana West