White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday responded to the father of US Navy SEAL Chief William "Ryan" Owens, who was killed in action during a raid in Yemen, saying the Department of Defense would launch three investigations into the operation.
Owens' father, Bill, in an interview with The Miami Herald on Sunday, urged President Donald Trump to answer 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?" Bill told The Herald.
In early February, Spicer told reporters in response to questions about the Yemen raid: "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 Bill Owens 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.
"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 on Monday, 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. Spicer again shied away from calling the raid a "100% success," as it led to Owens' death.
Bill Roggio, the editor of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies' Long War Journal, previously told Business Insider that Al Qaeda's branch in Yemen plans international attacks and that some of the intelligence on these attacks can be recovered only by going in and confiscating hard drives.
Ultimately, Roggio said it would be "hard to know" the success of the mission without seeing the intelligence recovered. "And we're never going to see it," he said.
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