I am not a conservative, but I am a veteran. Even still, I am not going to set my hair on fire and start yelling about the Yemen raid like it was another Benghazi. However, as a veteran, there are some things coming out that need to be discussed and should give you pause about our new so-called Commander in Chief.
Unlike most people, I fully understand the risks and dangers that go into pulling off a raid such as this one. I fully understand that we service members volunteer for our jobs, and we take them very seriously. We are willing to place our lives on the line for the benefit of our fellow citizens and our country.
Like everyone else, I do not know all of the facts that went into this raid and what planning went into it. I do know that even with the best laid plans, things can go wrong. So, unlike conservatives, I will not “judge” if the raid should have been done, or if more should have been done. I don’t Monday Morning Quarterback things like this.
With all of that said, there is something that needs to be discussed. Just how was the final decision made and who participated in that decision? That can be the deciding factor as to whether or not this raid should have happened and what it tells us about the temperament and decision-making process of our president.
We also need to look at the “alternative facts” being put out by the White House in regards to this raid. The biggest alternative fact to date turns out to be from the propaganda minister Sean Spicer. In a press briefing he said that this plan had been approved “so easily” On January 6 by all the under secretaries and forwarded to President Obama. The only reason it did not move forward sooner was that it required a no moon night and that would only be after trump took office.
On the face of that statement, it looks as though everything went according to plan. Only, what was said is being brought into question by Colin Kahl who was Vice President Joe Biden’s Intelligence Advisor and was at the meeting on January 6.
Last night Kahl said that the raid in Yemen was “never discussed”. He said it was never brought up and never even talked about. That completely contravenes Spicer’s comments about how it was so “easily” approved. That brings up even more questions.
Since the raid, leaks from the military have criticized the raid and basically said “everything that could go wrong went wrong.” I don’t normally put a lot of stock in leaks from people after the fact, but in this case, coupled with the apparent lie given by Spicer, it does make me wonder if these leaks have some merit.
It has also been reported that there was insufficient intelligence on the ground and therefore, the SEALS landed in a very heavily defended compound complete with snipers, land mines, and heavily armed defenders. They were caught completely by surprise.
To put it bluntly US military officials told Reuters:
“Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations. As a result, three officials said, the attacking SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced Al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger-than-expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists.”
If what was said in that quote was true, there is no other way to put this. The raid was a complete fuck up. That may be because of how it was approved and who was in attendance for the approval.
Again, I don’t know for sure since I was not there, but reports say that trump made his decision over dinner. The people who were at dinner with the president supposedly were Secretary of Defense Mattis, Steve Bannon, and Jared Kushner. There may have been others, but again, with the secrecy in the trump White House, we just don’t know.
It was nice that Mattis was there. But, come on now – Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner? Last I heard Kushner wasn’t going to get any security clearance. But, even if he does have security clearance, that does not mean he should have access to JSOC operations. There are different levels of security clearances.
My other question is where in the White House did this dinner take place? From reports it was not held in the Situation Room. I ask this because if they were discussing classified information, they should have been in what is call a Secure Classified Information Facility (SCIF). These are rooms that the sound of speaking cannot leak out. I don’t know how many SCIFs are in the White House, but I am sure the dining room isn’t one of them.
If Mattis was present, then at the very least he should have insisted that the “dinner” take place in a SCIF if this operation was being discussed. If he didn’t then he is guilty of gross negligence. If he did and was ignored, he should have left the meeting.
From all reports, this raid went south right from the start. That happens and I am not criticizing that. However, if all the reports are correct, then we must wonder just who is in charge of things like this. It makes me wonder if our new president has any clue about the magnitude of his decisions in something like this.
Let me be clear. I am not saying the raid should not have taken place. I am not saying that the military did not plan it properly. However, I am questioning the full consideration, or lack thereof, of our president before making the final call. Missions like this one are real. Real people are placing their lives on the line in the mission. We deserve a president who is not going to shoot from the hip and take advice from people who should not even be involved in the process.
I know you will say that Bannon is part of the NSC and has a right to be in the discussion. I will counter with my statement from the other day that he was illegally appointed and should not be allowed to sit in the meetings until he is formally approved by the Senate. In either case, what was Jared Kushner doing there?
As with most if not all classified missions we probably will not know all of the details of what happened. We probably won’t know exactly what went wrong and what went right. All we know is that one SEAL and one 8-year-old girl was killed in the operation and several others were injured and wounded.
I am not as interested in what happened in Yemen as I am in how the decision was made to carry out the operation. If the reports of who was at the dinner when the call was made is true, and if it is also true that there was insufficient intelligence to make the decision clearer, then we all need to ask why our president ordered the operation.
When carrying out raids like this, there is always risk and service members understand those risks. But, if the decision was made “on the fly” so to speak, that presents another problem. It means our president made an uninformed decision that caused several deaths, including one of our SEALS.
To me, that is inexcusable and a complete dereliction of duty. We can only hope that the truth will eventually come out, and before trump sends more people to die.