Probes opened into SEAL’s death in Yemen
Service member’s father seeks an investigation
The military is conducting at least three reviews of the raid in Yemen last month that resulted in the first death of a U.S. service member in the Trump administration, according to the White House and Pentagon.
Chief Special Warfare officer William “Ryan” Owens died in the commando raid in Yemen that targeted the al- Qaeda terrorist network.
His father on Sunday called on the White House for a probe into his son’s death. The operation also resulted in several civilian casualties, including an 8-yearold girl, and the crash landing and destruction of a $90 million warplane.
Owens’ death, the civilian casualties from the raid and the loss of the tilt-rotor Osprey plane triggered separate reviews by the military, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday. Each review is ongoing, said Christopher Sherwood, a Pentagon spokesman.
Owen’s loss is subject to a fullblown military investigation, while assessments of the civilian casualties and crashed plane may lead to investigations, Sherwood said.
The Jan. 29 operation instantly became politically charged: The White House pointed to intelligence scooped up during the raid and declared it a success, while Sen. John McCain, the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, after a classified briefing characterized it as a failure for Owens’ death and flawed planning for the mission.
The debate heated up again Sunday after Bill Owens, the fallen SEAL’s father, told the Miami
Herald that “the government owes my son an investigation.” Owens also revealed that he had refused to meet with President Trump at Dover Air Force Base when his son’s body was returned to the United States.
Spicer said Monday that the White House and Pentagon were satisfied that the operation had been adequately prepared for and again expressed condolences for the loss of Owens.
“I can’t possibly imagine what he’s going through in terms of the loss of his son,” Spicer said.
“I can tell him on behalf of the president that his son died a hero and the information that he was able to help obtain through that raid is going to save American lives. It’s going to protect our country.”
The operation was planned during the previous administration, Spicer said, and that “the recommendation was to wait for a moonless night.”
“It’s something that as a SEAL and as someone who deployed 12 times, he knew this was part of the job,” Spicer said, adding that “we’re very comfortable with how the mission was executed.”
Bad news about the raid — led by the loss of Owens, the father of three — has flowed in the month since it was launched. The military botched its rollout of news supporting its contention that there was an intelligence bonanza by releasing a seized video that was 10 years old.
The video was yanked from the Pentagon’s website within hours.
Spicer then tangled with McCain. Spicer stressed the mission’s success and said McCain owed the family of Owens an apology. McCain dismissed Spicer’s complaints, recalling his own five-year imprisonment during the Vietnam War. McCain noted that the raid that sought to release him failed but that did not diminish the heroism of the troops who conducted it.
“Unfortunately, the prison had been evacuated,” McCain said in a statement. “But the brave men who risked their lives in an effort to rescue us prisoners of war were genuine American heroes. Because the mission failed did not in any way diminish their courage and willingness to help their fellow Americans who were held captive. Mr. Spicer should know that story.”
William Owens holds a photo of his youngest son Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens in Lauderdale by the Sea, Fla.