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What happened to SEAL Team Six? The most serious scandal of all

Special to WorldTribune.com

By Grace Vuoto

The media is now consistently referring to three scandals engulfing the Obama presidency, even using a shorthand expression such as a “trifecta” of troubling incidents. Yet, there is a scandal brewing that is worse than the Department of Justice violating freedom of the press, the Internal Revenue Service abusing its power and four Americans left to die at the hands of jihadists in Benghazi, Libya.

A Chinook helicopter in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Anja Niedringhaus / AP

A Chinook helicopter in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Anja Niedringhaus / AP

Navy SEAL Team Six, the heroic unit that killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011, is in grave danger due to the reckless actions of the Obama administration. The parents of three SEALs recently said the government bears criminal culpability in the deaths of their sons.

They are calling for a congressional investigation into the Aug. 6, 2011 helicopter crash in Afghanistan that resulted in 38 deaths, including 7 members of the Afghan National Army, an Afghan interpreter, 15 SEAL Team Six members, 2 members of West Coast SEAL and other U.S. troops. A rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter, causing the fatal crash. It was the deadliest day for America in the Afghan war.

Were the SEALS targeted in retaliation for killing Bin Laden? The elite SEAL Team Six is a special operations unit whose actions are supposed to be classified. They uphold a strict code of secrecy. As a result, it is not publicly known which specific SEAL Team Six members were involved in the killing of the world’s most wanted terrorist, nor how many of those who participated in the raid were on the helicopter that was shot down.

We now know, however, that the elite group and their families were shocked when Vice President Joe Biden publicly identified them on May 3, 2011, two days after the raid. He was speaking at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington D.C. at the 50th anniversary of the Atlantic Council, an international affairs think tank. It was a speech laden with praise for the intelligence and military community.

“Let me briefly acknowledge tonight’s distinguished honorees: Adm. Jim Stavridis is a — is the real deal; he could tell you more about and understands the incredible, the phenomenal, the just almost unbelievable capacity of his Navy SEALS and what they did last — last Sunday,” said Mr. Biden.

In that moment, the vice president revealed to the world the name of the unit that had tracked down and killed America’s foremost enemy. Every jihadist seeking to avenge Bin Laden’s death was given a clear target.

Even more astonishing, in that speech, Mr. Biden waxed eloquent on the fact that the whole mission had remained secret prior to the raid.

“And what was even more extraordinary was — and I’m sure former administration officials will appreciate this more than anyone — there was such an absolute, overwhelming desire to accomplish this mission that although for over several months we were in the process of planning it, and there were as many as 16 members of Congress who were briefed on it, not a single, solitary thing leaked. I find that absolutely amazing,” said Mr. Biden. Ironically, he was praising the team’s ability to work in secret while he had just carelessly leaked classified information — arguably one of the greatest leaks in American history.

As a result of the actions “of those brave professionals who tracked and killed Osama Bin Laden,” Mr. Biden said, “the world is a safer place today, not only for the American people but for all people.“ Yet, his very words that evening terrified members of SEAL Team Six who had just been betrayed by their government and immediately began to fear for their lives.

In a May 10, 2013 interview on Fox News’ America Live with Megyn Kelly, the parents of deceased SEAL Team Six member Aaron Vaughn revealed their son’s angst following Mr. Biden’s blunder: “As soon as Joe Biden announced that it was a SEAL Team who took out Bin Laden, within 24 hours, my son called me and I rarely heard him ever sound afraid in his adult life,” said Karen Vaughn.

Mrs. Vaughn described his tone in that conversation as “extraordinarily serious.” “‘Mom, you need to wipe your social media clean. You need to get everything off of it now.’” When she asked what was wrong, he explained:  “’Mom, there is chatter and your life is in danger. Our lives are in danger. So clean it up right now.‘”

The chilling effect was widespread. “The community was very unnerved by that unveiling. So yes, a target got put on their back and it got put on the back of every group that would work with SEAL Team Six,” said Mrs. Vaughn. And indeed, three months after Mr. Biden made the announcement, a helicopter carrying SEALS in Afghanistan was shot down under mysterious circumstances. Aaron Vaughn’s worst fears were realized.

Family members of the slain are not satisfied with the military’s report on the incident. They have many questions, including why the Afghans who were on the helicopter were not the ones on the flight manifest. Why was there a last-minute change? Did the Taliban infiltrate the helicopter?

They also believe the U.S. government was derelict in its duties by putting such a large group of SEALS on one aircraft. In addition, they want to know why the troops were using outdated equipment and were not permitted to return fire when under duress. The families believe the rules of engagement the troops are currently using serve to aid the enemy in easily killing Americans. Finally, they are incensed that at the funeral held in Kabul, a Muslim cleric recited a prayer over the bodies of the fallen that confined them to eternal damnation as” infidels.” This, they contend, is Mr. Obama’s “Muslim Outreach” strategy gone wildly wrong.

The Obama administration has tried to defend its snooping on reporters by citing the pressing need to identify and stop the leakage of classified information that endangers the lives of those in the field. But, the second in command, Vice President Joe Biden, himself did so, in full public view. This was a colossal breach of trust and resulted in the reckless endangerment of the very bravest amongst us. Why has he not been held accountable?

We must stand with the families of the slain, demanding answers and that justice be duly served to all those responsible for these deaths.

Dr. Grace Vuoto is Editor of Culture and Politics at WorldTribune.com and the founder of the Edmund Burke Institute for American Renewal.

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