The families of Navy SEALs killed in an August 2011 downing of a helicopter in Afghanistan came forward Thursday to blast the U.S. command and the Obama administration for the mission and to call for an official investigation into what they deem a whitewash.
They also rebuked the White House for its extensive leaking of details of the Osama bin Laden raid in May 2011. Identifying the raiders as the secretive SEAL Team 6 put a target on the heads of the members of the doomed mission in Afghanistan, the parents said.
They also said the CH-47 Chinook helicopter used in the mission had no gunship escort and no cover when it was attempting to land at 2 a.m. that Aug. 6. Taliban on a rooftop shot down the helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.
All 38 onboard died in the fiery crash. The casualties included 17 SEALs, making it one of the elite unit’s worst losses in combat. The hastily planned mission was intended to aid 47 Army Rangers in the Tangi Valley, even though the Rangers controlled the battle zone.
The groups that organized the news conference Thursday at the National Press Club said a Muslim cleric chosen by the U.S. command to speak at a memorial service insulted the fallen. According to an English translation of a video of the service, the cleric condemned the dead to hell and mocked “the God of Moses.”
“We demand to know who made the call to send our sons into hostile territory where evidence proves a shootdown attempt had been in full force for weeks and in less-than-adequate, antiquated air frames documented to be in very poor condition,” said Karen Vaughn, whose Navy SEAL son, Aaron, was killed.
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