A Scandal Worse than Benghazi?

by Robert Maynard

In an article for the London Policy Center, Allan West weighs in on a scandal that is possibly worse than Bengazi:

Yes, Osama bin Laden is indeed dead, eliminated in May of 2011. The media made darn sure we knew about that. And the Obama administration did everything possible — even sharing classified information with Hollywood and others to tout their story.

But just three months later on August 5th 2011, there was an incident that President Obama, and the media do not want the American people to know about. It is the story of the largest single loss of life in the Afghanistan combat theater of operations. As well, it is the largest ever loss of life for the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community, our revered US Navy SEALS.

It was the mission known as “Extortion 17.” The mission began with US Army Rangers inserted into the Tangi River valley in Wardak Province to eliminate Taliban leader Qari Tahir. Overhead there were two AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and an AC-130 gunship as part of the Aerial Weapons Team (AWT). When the AWT noticed two individuals fleeing the target area and determined they were armed, they requested permission to engage, but it was denied.

The two individuals were seen linking up with another six but permission to engage was still denied. The decision was made to launch the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) aboard a singular CH-47D Chinook aircraft. Aboard were 16 members of SEAL Team VI (as previously publicly identified by Vice President Biden, SEAL Team support personnel, US Air Force special operators, an Afghan interpreter and seven Afghan commandos. Strangely, the Afghan Commandos who were part of the QRF and listed on the manifest were removed and replaced by Afghan soldiers who were not manifested.

The operation in the target area of operations had been ongoing for over three hours. There was no attack helicopter escort for the CH-47D. There were no eyes on the “hot” helicopter landing zone (HLZ) – near where the eight enemy combatants had repositioned, and no pre-assault fires were granted for the HLZ.

As the CH-47D, call sign Extortion 17, approached the HLZ, the AWT saw three flashes. It was three rocket propelled grenade shots. One struck the rear tail rotor and in 5 seconds the aircraft broke into three pieces and crashed in a dry creek bed in a ball of flames.

One of the AWT gunship helicopters saw the point of origin of the shots and requested permission to engage. But it was again denied. They reported seeing the individuals leaving a fixed defensive fighting position above a building — a tower actually — handing down equipment.

In total, 22 brave American Warriors and one combat-trained dog lost their lives. When family members received a brief on the operation a question was asked, “why not use a drone?” A senior US Navy Admiral replied, “we want to win the hearts and minds.”

I was a Member of Congress on the House Armed Services Committee when I received the classified after-action report. There are more questions than answers. That led Billy and Karen Vaughn, parents of their fallen son Aaron, to dig deeper and write a book, “Betrayed, The Shocking True Story of Extortion 17 as told by a Navy SEALs Father.”

Before Benghazi, there was the betrayal of Extortion 17. Who will get the truth for these warriors and their families? President Obama, Secretary of Defense, Congress, US Navy? The media? The only part of Clausewitz’s trinity left to uncover the truth is We The People.