Military sources are contradicting Pres. Donald Trump’s claim that the botched raid in Yemen on Jan. 29 was “a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence.”
According to Steve Benen at the TheMaddowBlog, 10 sources within the military and intelligence communities have spoken to NBC News to say that the raid that cost Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens and 29 civilians their lives actually yielded no intelligence that was “actionable or viable.”
“The Pentagon says Navy SEALs scooped up laptops, hard drives and cell phones in last month’s Yemen raid, but multiple U.S. officials told NBC News that none of the intelligence gleaned from the operation so far has proven actionable or vital – contrary to what President Trump said in his speech to Congress Tuesday,” said an NBC report.
“(N)o truly significant intelligence has emerged from the haul,” the report said. “One senior Pentagon official described the information gathered as ‘de minimis,’ and as material the U.S. already knew about.”
The Trump administration has tried to paint the failed mission as a success in order to offset the political damage of losing a highly trained military operative due to poor planning, a lack of ground support and inadequate intelligence.
In his speech to Congress on Tuesday night, Trump assured Ryan Owens’ widow Carryn — who was seated in the gallery next to Trump’s daughter Ivanka — that her husband’s death was not in vain and that the raid yielded intelligence that will make the nation safer.
Earlier, on Tuesday afternoon, Pres. Trump lied and said that the Yemen raid was an operation that had been planned by the Obama administration. He also sought to offset the blame for Owens’ death on to the generals leading the armed forces.
“This was a mission that was started before I got here,” Trump said. “This was something that was, uh, you know, they wanted to do. They came to see me, they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected. My generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I believe. And they lost Ryan.”
The Yemen raid was planned on Jan. 25 at a dinner meeting attended by Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and key security advisers.
Normally such meetings are carried out in the secure confines of the Situation Room, but this raid’s planning was just one of many national security conventions and protocols that the former reality TV star president has bucked. Last month, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took a sensitive security briefing on North Korea while seated among the dinner guests at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
“I can’t say with confidence where this story’s headed,” Benen said, “but if the president lied about a mission in which an American hero was killed — and then lied to the soldier’s grieving widow in order to make himself look good during a speech — this won’t be just another controversy for the White House.”