A well-connected source tells me that members of the U.S. House of Representatives plan to avoid discussion of several hot-button topics during a hearing next month to probe the deaths of 30 Americans, including 17 members of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL TEAM SIX, in what’s been recorded as the single-largest loss of life in U.S. Naval Special Warfare history.
BACKGROUND: The deaths occurred in Afghanistan Aug. 6, 2011, after a mission to capture a high-value Taliban operative — codename “Lefty Grove” — went terribly wrong.
Along with the aforementioned SEALs, five Army aircrew members, three Air Force personnel and five other Navy personnel were killed, dwarfing the more-publicized scandal surrounding the deaths at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
All of the Americans had been manifested on “Extortion 17,” the call sign given to the CH-47 “Chinook” helicopter used for the mission, when it went down in the Tangi Valley after more than one rocket-propelled grenade were reportedly fired at the aircraft. See this article for more details about the shoot-down.
The incident raised many questions, largely because of the fact that the SEALs killed were members of the same elite unit Vice President Joe Biden identified in public as the one that raided Osama bin Laden‘s compound in Pakistan. See the 2:11 mark of this video (below) for proof.
THE HEARING: Though the hearing has yet to appear on the calendar of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, my source assures me he was told it will take place and that the list of hot-button topics committee members plan to avoid includes Rules of Engagement, the Counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy, the vetting process used to screen Afghan recruits and “Green-on-Blue” attacks.
THE SMOKING GUN: Also likely to be ignored at the hearing is another topic much more personal to those who lost loved ones in the incident. According to my source, autopsy reports reveal multiple foreign objects were found inside the bodies of more than one of the Extortion 17 casualties. Critically important about those objects is how, according to my source, is that the medical examiner with whom he spoke, they were “unidentifiable.”
Such a description raises at least two troubling questions in need of answers:
Does that mean they were made of materials unknown to the U.S. military (i.e., materials not known to have been used in the construction of the CH-47 aircraft, its weapons systems or any of the items typically carried by U.S. and Afghan personnel)? and
Could U.S. military officials not link the unidentifiable materials to any of myriad RPGs, mortars and other munitions encountered by U.S. forces during the past dozen-plus years of war?
Seeking answers to those questions, I contacted a public affairs official at the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System in Rockville, Md., last week and asked for copies of the autopsy reports of the Extortion 17 casualties. Not surprisingly, I was told I would have to file a Freedom of Information Act request in order to obtain those reports. I plan to do that after the holidays and will update you as soon as possible.
FYI: I’m also working to confirm another possible smoking gun which I found in the 1,300 heavily-redacted pages of the crash investigation report — which, by the way, I’ve read in its entirety — put together by officials at U.S. Central Command.
UPDATE 1/12/2014 at 9:42 p.m. Central: In addition to commenting on the recent release by former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Gold Star parents Billy & Karen Vaughn corroborate what I shared about in the article above about an upcoming Congressional hearing.