White House responds to father of Navy SEAL killed in Yemen raid

White House spokesman Sean Spicer responded to the father of US Navy SEAL Chief William "Ryan" Owens, who was killed in action during a raid in Yemen, saying that the Department of Defense would launch three investigations into the operation.

Chief Owens' father, Bill Owens, in an interview with the Miami Herald on Sunday, urged Trump to provide answers to questions about the raid in Yemen that resulted in the death of his son, as many as 29 civilians, and the destruction of an MV-22 Osprey helicopter.

"Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn't even barely a week into his administration? Why? For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen — everything was missiles and drones — because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?'' Owens told The Herald.

In early February, Spicer responded to reporters' questions on the Yemen raid by saying "I think anyone who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and a disservice to the life of Chief Owens ... the raid, the action that was taken in Yemen was a huge success."

But Owens' father made it clear he firmly supports investigations into the raid, and that he's not pleased with the White House seemingly using his family's tragedy to avoid answering questions about it.


US Navy photo.

"Don't hide behind my son's death to prevent an investigation," Owens said. "I want an investigation. ... The government owes my son an investigation."

Spicer replied to Owens' request for an investigation, saying it is "standard operating procedure" for the Department of Defense to review missions like the Yemen raid. In this case, according to Spicer, the investigation will be three-pronged, as the raid involved loss of equipment, loss of civilian life, and loss of a US Navy SEAL.

Spicer reiterated the importance of the information gained in the raid, which he has repeatedly characterized as helping to save American lives. Again Spicer shied away from calling the raid a "100% success," as it involved the death of Chief Owens.

Bill Roggio, editor of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies' Long War Journal, previously told Business Insider that Al Qaeda's branch in Yemen does plan international attacks. He said some of the intelligence on these attacks can only be recovered by going in and actually confiscating hard drives.

Ultimately, Roggio said it would be "hard to know" if the mission succeeded or not without seeing the intelligence recovered — "and we're never going to see it."

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