“My chain of command won’t let me die” 91


America honors her heroes in recognizing Veterans Day, including our brave SEALs.

Mark Baisley spells out what “SEALs” stand for – their name and their cause:

That virtuous moniker is actually an acronym for Sea, Air, And Land, indicating that these guys cover every quarter and every dimension. Members of the United States Navy SEALs are a special kind of human, incredibly smart athletes with unthinkable endurance and unimaginable tolerance for pain. The greatest attribute of a SEAL is devotion.

But in a brand new book, a tragic truth is revealed about the Obama Administration’s unrequited devotion from our most selfless of heroes. Aaron Carson Vaughn is honored by his heartbroken dad in Betrayed, The Shocking True Story of Extortion 17 as told by a Navy SEAL’s Father. The book chronicles the events that led to the death of Aaron Carson Vaughn and was authored by Billy Vaughn, with co-authors Monica Morrill and Cari Blake.

Aaron Carson Vaughn “once wrote a note of assurance to his concerned parents about his chain of command saying, ‘They won’t let me die‘. But they did.

The book details the events of August 6, 2011 in Afghanistan surrounding the shooting down of an American Chinook helicopter that held the evocative name of “Extortion 17″.

A high-value Al-Qaeda leader was pinned down in a village by U.S. Army Rangers. Three hours into the intense ground engagement, Extortion 17 was tasked to carry seventeen SEALs into the battle with the onerous task of capturing the Al-Qaeda leader alive.

The Chinook was operated by a crew of five from the National Guard and carried an additional 22 Navy personnel in support of the elite SEAL team. One Afghan interpreter was also on board and, just before taking off, seven Afghan commandos were curiously assigned to the final flight of Extortion 17.

As the Chinook approached its destination, the enemy could be seen running into a building with a tower that gave them an advantageous shooting position. The two Apache escort helicopters had all the visibility and firepower to resolve the battle before Extortion 17 delivered the SEAL team. But the Apaches were denied permission to attack.

Under the Obama Administration’s new rules of engagement, no strike could be made on that building without assurance that no civilians were inside. The enemy knows these rules, which is why they run into buildings where civilians may be located.

Just as in Gaza, where Hamas terrorists do the same. And PLO fighters in Lebanon used to place their guns on the roofs of schools and hospitals, and use UNRWA schools as arsenals. Such is the honor of the Muslim warrior.

Under the protection of Obama rules, the enemy set up on the tower of the building and shot down Extortion 17 using three rocket-propelled grenades. The Chinook fell to the ground in a tremendous explosion, killing all 30 people on board.

The parents of those SEAL Team members who died were gathered for a briefing and were given hundreds of pages of information from the investigation of the event. Betrayed includes many pages of that original material; material that raised enough unsettling questions that Billy Vaughn wrote a book.

One question asked at the briefing was why, even in the minutes following the shoot-down of Extortion 17, America’s massive firepower was withheld.

Three-star Admiral Robert Harward explained to the parents that a drone strike wasn’t used because, “we need to win their hearts and minds”. 

Can a three-star admiral actually believe in such a goal? Did he manage to say it with a straight face?

What the Commander-in-Chief was really after becomes terribly clear only with the knowledge that he put Afghans in command of American troops who were in Afghanistan to defeat Afghans:  

Evidently, this policy of social politeness on the battlefront motivated the Obama Administration to relegate authority over American troops under Afghan command one year before the Extortion 17 crash, the greatest loss of U.S. military SEALs in a single incident.

Social politeness? It may look like that. But a commander-in-chief who puts his troops under enemy command is not just being socially polite. He is not trying to “win hearts and minds” like a missionary. He is helping the enemy to win. He is making sure that the enemy will win. 

All knowledge, forethought, and mission planning for American troops within that country are under the joint oversight of the Operational Coordination Group, a command of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

And win the enemy did:

While George W. Bush was in office, we were treated to a steady drumbeat of casualty reports. But the silence of American media over the past five years has covered up the fact that far more of our troops have been killed and injured under the Obama Administration’s rules of engagement.

It could not have been otherwise. That’s what those rules of engagement were designed to do.

During the seven years of war in the Bush Administration, 630 Americans died in Afghanistan and 2,638 were wounded in action. During the first four years of the Obama Administration, 1,544 Americans have died in Afghanistan and 15,036 have been wounded in action.

Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He has invited Muslim Brotherhood members into his administration as advisers and consultants. He is letting Muslim-theocratic Iran become nuclear-armed. He has had all critical references to Islam purged from army training materials. He withdrew all American forces from Iraq so letting Iran become a force of influence in that land whose soil is soaked with American blood. And his crippling rules of engagement have allowed the Taliban back into power in Afghanistan.

But today he will be seen honoring American veterans, in the posture of mourning for the heroic dead:


Billy Budd, three Navy Seals, and the spirit of the law 183

Billy Budd, by Herman Melville, is the story of an innocent, good young man, an illegitimate orphan, who is impressed into the Royal Navy when England is at war with France in 1797. The Captain of the ship on which he serves loves him, and so do all the crew except for one man, John Claggart, the Master-at-Arms. Motivated by malice, hate, and envy, Claggart falsely accuses Billy of planning mutiny. An astounded and disbelieving Captain Vere has to confront Billy with his accuser. Billy cannot answer the charge. Not only is he bewildered by the accusation which he only understands as a blatant lie, and has no idea how to convey his denial having never been taught to express himself, but in addition he is hampered by a speech impediment. In his frustrated and  desperate need to defend himself, he strikes out at Claggart and accidentally kills him. Captain Vere has no choice now but to have Billy court-martialled. As the only witness to the event, he defends Billy, sincerely believing in his profound innocence. But then, deeply paining his own feelings, he himself actually persuades the court-martial panel to sentence Billy to death, because although it is unjust, it is what the law prescribes. If an enlisted man kills an officer in a time of war, even accidentally, the law says he must be executed. So Billy Budd, a personification of human goodness, is hanged as a criminal.

What has recalled Billy Budd to our minds is the case of three Navy Seals in Iraq. One of them, Petty Officer First Class Julio Huertas is being tried today in Baghdad on charges relating to the hitting of  an enemy captive. The accusation has been brought by the captive himself, Ahmed Hashim Abed.

The US Marines had been searching for him as the leader of a murderous attack on four Blackwater contractors. Abed and his fellow Islamic savages killed the Americans, dragged their mutilated and burnt bodies through the streets of Falluja, and hung two of them on a bridge.

In what seemed like a triumph for justice, three brave Seals captured Abed, for which they should be commended and rewarded.

They handcuffed and blindfolded him, and proceeded to interrogate him. Later the prisoner was to complain that one of them had struck him. If so, the Seal was surely being all too merciful, considering that servicemen are paid not merely to strike but to kill the enemy. Astoundingly, however, all three of the Seals are to be court-martialled.

The other two are Petty Officer 2nd. Class Matthew McCabe  and Petty Officer 2nd. Class Jonathan Keefe.

Huertas and Keefe – who is also to be tried in Iraq – are charged with dereliction of duty, not taking more tender care of their captive.

McCabe is the one accused of hitting the terrorist murderer. He’ll be tried next month in Virginia.

Who, we’d like to know,  made the decision to try these three men, and why? Are they torn in their consciences like Captain Vere? Or are they merely small bureaucratic minds, long gone blind to justice as they scurry about in the purlieus of legal minutiae, intent on obeying the letter but not the spirit of the law?

Jillian Becker  April 21, 2010

Update April 22, 2010: Petty Officer First Class Julio Huertas has been cleared of all charges.