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North Bay Congressman Outraged Over Trump's First Military Raid

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President Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, board Marine One at the White House in Washington, D.C, on Feb. 1, 2017. Trump flew to Dover Air Force Base for the arrival of the remains of William Owens, killed in Yemen during a raid on al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Fairfield) says the recent U.S. military raid in Yemen approved by President Donald Trump that left one Navy SEAL dead, injured three service members and killed a number of civilians was poorly planned and approved too hastily.

On Sunday, Jan. 29, military officials revealed information about the operation that had taken place the day before. It was the first military raid under Trump, an attack against al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula.

The Department of Defense announced Monday that Chief Special Warfare Operator William Owens, 36, of Peoria, Illinois, had died from wounds sustained in the raid.

Since then, reports have surfaced that describe a chaotic and risky operation that has prompted criticism from Yemeni officials who usually support the U.S.

Garamendi, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, blames Trump.


“My personal opinion is Trump wanted to put a trophy up on the wall and thought that this might be one that he could acquire early in his administration and pound his own chest and say, ‘Look how tough we are,’ ” Garamendi said in an interview Thursday. “The result is we’ve got one dead American, several dead Yemeni and not much acquired in terms of intelligence.”

The U.S. military has acknowledged that civilians were killed in the raid. And questions have emerged over whether American forces’ surprise was blown.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday that the raid was very well thought out and executed, it yielded valuable intelligence and that 14 of those killed were al-Qaida terrorists.

Still, Trump has asked the Pentagon for a review.

His administration has emphasized there was enough intelligence to carry out the raid and that it had been on the table since December.

Chief Special Warfare Operator William Owens, a Navy SEAL, of Peoria, Illinois, was killed in the Yemen raid on Saturday, Jan. 28 2017, the Pentagon said.
Chief Special Warfare Operator William Owens, a Navy SEAL, of Peoria, Illinois, was killed in the Yemen raid on Saturday, Jan. 28 2017, the Pentagon said. (U.S. Navy)

Former Obama administration officials dispute that, telling the Washington Post that the operation was never specifically discussed in the White House before Trump took over.

“Did Trump advance it too fast? Looking back, the answer is yes,” Garamendi said, adding that he is calling on the Pentagon to provide the Armed Services Committee with a briefing.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has received a briefing on the raid, but the two Bay Area members of that panel, Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) and Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) declined to comment on the raid.

A spokeswoman for Speier said because the intelligence committee’s briefing is classified, she can’t discuss the matter.

Overall, when it comes to the president’s ability to push for military action, Garamendi feels that Congress has fallen down on the job. For the last 15 years, three administrations have used the Authorization for Use of Military Force to conduct strikes in various parts of the world.

“Trump has unlimited power to wage war anywhere he believes al-Qaida and associated entities exist,” Garamendi said. “That should make all of us very, very nervous.”

NPR reported that a terrorist video released Friday to show intelligence retrieved from the Yemen raid was actually made about 10 years ago.

The video, which demonstrated how to make explosives, had already been released to the public. Defense officials canceled a Friday briefing to discuss the video and removed it from the U.S. Central Command’s website.

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