Tag Archives: enemy combatant

Horrific Tragedy Ensues After AC-130 Gunship Crew Denied Opportunity to Engage Afghan ‘Squirters’ in Tangi Valley

EDITOR’S NOTE: The article below first appeared on this site Sept. 20, 2013. Several months later, it vanished — along with nearly 5,000 others written and published since October 2006 — as detailed in a post eight months ago. Today, I rescued it from where it appears on an alternate site in order to share it in advance of the fourth anniversary of a tragic event that took place Aug. 6, 2011. It appears below with only minor modifications. Please read and share.

The images above are those of the men lost while serving their country in Afghanistan aboard a CH-47 “Chinook” helicopter — call sign “Extortion 17.”

The images above are those of the men lost while serving their country in Afghanistan aboard a CH-47 “Chinook” helicopter — call sign “Extortion 17.”

BACKGROUND

Recently, I asked the question, Did Afghan Officials Play Deadly Role in Navy SEALs Helo Crash? Today, I ask a question about a decision made by U.S. military officials in OPERATION LEFTY GROVE, an effort during which the single-largest loss of life in the history of U.S. Naval Special Warfare took place: Why Was AC-130 Crew Not Allowed to Engage Squirters?

On Aug. 6, 2011, a CH-47 “Chinook” — call sign “Extortion 17” — was shot down during the pre-dawn hours while on a mission to capture a bad guy in Afghanistan’s Wardak Province.  Among the dead, 30 Americans, most of whom were members of the U.S. Navy’s elite SEAL TEAM SIX.

Not coincidentally, many believe, the deaths of these “quiet professionals” came only weeks after Vice President Joe Biden compromised operational security by disclosing details about their unit’s involvement in a raid on Osama bin Laden‘s compound in Pakistan.

After obtaining a redacted copy of the U.S. Central Command crash investigation report — almost 1,300 pages — that had previously been classified “SECRET,” I was able to learn more than most about what reportedly transpired on the mission during which the good guys were hunting for a Taliban leader in the Tangi Valley who had been given the code name, “Lefty Grove.”

THE MISSION

A sensor operator aboard an AC-130U performs preflight system checks before takeoff at Hurlburt Field, Fla. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ali E. Flisek.

A sensor operator aboard an AC-130U performs preflight system checks before takeoff at Hurlburt Field, Fla. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ali E. Flisek.

During the evening of Aug. 5, 2011, the crew of a U.S. Air Force AC-130 aircraft — it’s not clear which version, “H’ or “U” — left Bagram Air Base was involved in what the aircraft commander told investigators was a “direct action mission.”  Shortly after arriving “on station (i.e., in the location of their mission objective),” members on the heavily-armed aircraft’s crew became aware of eight individuals “huddling up along the wall” of a building near their objective and positively identified them as possessing weapons.

“After hearing that [redacted] was going to engage those guys,” the AC-130 navigator explained to crash investigators, “we immediately asked the [redacted] if we could go overhead.  That way we could be watching from a point where we would be ready to shoot if there were any additional squirters that moved off the engagement site from [redacted].”  FYI:  “Squirter” is a term the AC-130 aircraft commander later defined as an individual who has left the target compound but has not been declared hostile or shown hostile intent.

Further into the discussion, the AC-130 navigator explained what happened after the crew of another aircraft engaged the eight individuals on the ground.

“Then, at that point, [redacted] One engaged the eight pax north of the building, 120 meters west of the actual of the Lefty Grove target set, and we picked up two squirters that did not get hit or (were) less injured than the rest of their other folks… and we basically started following those guys off to the northwest.”

Then the AC-130 aircraft commander interjected with an important note.

“Really quick, an important point I think at this juncture is, we had requested to engage those two individuals, and we were denied,” he said.

Another individual, identified only as “IE” in the report, offered more details, explaining that the original engagement planned for those eight individuals on the ground was a “hell fire engagement,” but “they elected to go to the 30-millimeter due to CDE constraints.”  FYI:  CDE is short for “Collateral Damage Estimate.”

What happened when they pushed for 40mm engagement as a weapon that would result in zero CDE?

“We were denied that,” he explained.  “We were just requested to maintain track on those two squirters that were moving west.”

After some discussion of how typical mission communications play out, members of the AC-130 crew were asked by crash investigators to “kind of walk through what happened next.”

“Basically, like we said, we were passing periodic updates to [redacted],” the AC-130 navigator explained.  “The first one we passed was when the squirters were 200 meters away and, really, it was about every 200 to 300 meters we were passing along updates.

“[Redacted] I guess you talk to [redacted],” he continued.  “They said they didn’t want us to engage; what he passed to us was that they wanted to follow those guys and figure out where they stopped.  And then find out exactly where they were and then basically use that as a follow-on after they were done clearing and securing the actual Lefty Grove site.

“So, basically, we kept following them until they were about two clicks away and then they finally stopped under a piece of terrain, a small tree grove,” the AC-130 navigator explained before being asked by the deputy investigating officer to point out the grove on a graphic.

At that point, the AC-130 aircraft commander began describing how and where his crew followed the squirters to a point where they picked up six additional personnel and how his crew passed along their observations.  He also went on to explain that additional squirters had been identified in the objective area.

Eventually, the AC-130 navigator explains how the crew of Extortion — which, crew members noted later, became known to them as “Extortion 17″ only after they started seeing emails days later — enters the scenario.

“So we watched the squirters go into the building,” he explained.  “At this time [redacted] had moved out to escort Extortion into the HLZ [redacted] — after we got all information passed to us about where the HLZ actually was going to be and their route of flight.”  FYI:  “HLZ” is short for “Helicopter Landing Zone” or, depending on the circumstances, “Hot Landing Zone.”

The building inside which the squirters had taken refuge, according to the AC-130 navigator, was about 600 meters southeast of the HLZ where the crew of Extortion 17 planned to drop off members of SEAL TEAM SIX.

After some discussion of the communications that took place between air and ground elements, the AC-130 aircraft commander confirmed for the deputy investigating officer how responsibilities for watching the squirters and visually escorting Extortion 17 into the HLZ had been assigned.

Additional discussion about details of the mission followed, and the AC-130 commander described his final communications with the crew of Extortion 17 while also noting that it was a “zero illum” night.  Total darkness.

“They called three minutes out, so we are trying to figure out, we’ve got the HLZ, we are getting ready to put the burn on and we are just sitting there waiting,” the AC-130 aircraft commander explained.  “A normal one minute, we are waiting two minutes for that one minute out call to put the burn on and just waiting, and we don’t know exactly what is going on.”

He went on to explain that his crew thought about making contact with Extortion 17 but decided against.  Why?  Because, in case they were trying to work something out, he didn’t want to bother them during “this critical phase of flight.”

After noting how the crew of Extortion 17 changed their run-in heading (a.k.a., “direction of approach”), the AC-130 aircraft commander said the one-minute-out call came and his crew began to “put the burn on” — or unleashed fire to protect the helicopter as it was about to land in the HLZ.

“Shortly after the burn came on,” he explained, “I saw three RPG shots, kind of just ripple — one, two, three — coming from the south to the north.  I was in the southern part of the orbit and…what I saw was either the first or second one make an initial hit, and just a massive explosion, and it just seemed to be stationary, and it just dropped.”

MISSED OPPORTUNITY?

After reading the 55-page document containing the transcript of the crash investigation team’s conversation with an AC-130 gunship crew involved in OPERATION LEFTY GROVE, I’m convinced that orders based on Rules of Engagement (i.e., political correctness-based fear that an attack against suspected enemy combatants would result in “collateral damage”) prevented that crew from doing their job and likely resulted in the senseless deaths of 30 American warriors in Afghanistan.  And I’m not alone.

The video below features the audio track of a talk radio appearance during which Charlie Strange shared his feelings — about losing his son, Navy SEAL Michael Strange, in the crash and about the findings of the crash investigation report — with Dr. Michael Savage, host of “The Michael Savage Show.”

To read other articles about Extortion 17, click here.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Americans Deserve More Facts About GITMO, Bombings

During the past 24 hours, it seems I’ve hit the mother lode in the form of top news stories lacking pertinent facts that should be shared with the American people.

A U.S. Sailor, foreground, assigned to the Navy Expeditionary Guard Battalion conducts an early morning patrol while detainees stand by in the background at the recreation yard inside Camp Delta at Joint Task Force (JTF) Guantanamo, Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, July 7, 2010. JTF Guantanamo provides safe, humane, legal and transparent care and custody of detainees, including those convicted by military commission and those ordered released by a court. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

A U.S. Sailor, foreground, assigned to the Navy Expeditionary Guard Battalion conducts an early morning patrol while detainees stand by in the background at the recreation yard inside Camp Delta at Joint Task Force (JTF) Guantanamo, Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, July 7, 2010. JTF Guantanamo provides safe, humane, legal and transparent care and custody of detainees, including those convicted by military commission and those ordered released by a court. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzworth)

Yesterday, the Miami Herald published a piece by by Carol Rosenberg under the headline, First flight: 8 of first 20 ‘worst’ still at Guantanamo. It begins with a look back at what happened 13 years ago after 20 men in orange jumpsuits were brought from Afghanistan to the U.S. Navy detention facility in Cuba. By the time it ends, however, it fails to offer much in the way of details about the variety of interrogation methods — good, bad and ugly — employed by U.S. military and intelligence officials at GITMO as they sought information that might have helped the U.S.-led war effort succeed.

Conversely, I share never-before-published details about what happened to the “first 20” of more than 700 detainees (a.k.a., “enemy combatants” or “prisoners of war”) to arrive at the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo (a.k.a., “GITMO”) in my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo. [FYI: For more details, read my Sept. 9 post, Investigation Reveals Never-Before-Published Truths About Early Days of ‘Global War on Terror’ at Guantanamo Bay. Better yet, order a copy of The Clapper Memo.]

In Steven Aftergood’s article, “Insider Threat” Program Lags Behind Schedule, published by the Federation of American Scientists, he makes no mention of the fact that the “insider threat” program launched by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence more than two years ago relies heavily upon employees being subjected to polygraph exams.

Conversely, I share never-before-published details about the flaws in the polygraph and about a newer, more effective and more reliable credibility assessment technology that proved itself more than a decade ago at Guantanamo Bay and should be incorporated in any program to identify so-called “insider threats.” In addition, I shared insider details about how the non-polygraph technology was unceremoniously banned from use by the Department of Defense personnel despite having realized top-notch results in myriad uses and scenarios around the world. Again, the details appear in The Clapper Memo.

Click image above to read other OKC Bombing-related articles.

Click image above to read other OKC Bombing-related articles.

Finally, a Boston Magazine article attempts to offer comparisons between the men alleged to have been behind the Oklahoma City and Boston Marathon bombings, respectively: Timothy McVeigh and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. My biggest problem with the article is that it fails to mention the fact that an Oklahoma City Bombing Trial is taking place now in federal court in Salt Lake City and the implications at stake.

Conversely, I used a headline of a Dec. 30 piece to ask one questions about the Oklahoma City bombing: Does ‘Domestic Terrorism’ Label Apply to OKC Bombing? Below the headline, I shared reasons to doubt the the official narrative that is set to turn 20 years old April 19 — unless, that is, the outcome of the new Oklahoma City Bombing Trial turns that narrative upside down.

So, there you have it — proof that many of the news stories you’re reading have a lot of holes to be filled in by folks like me.

UPDATE 4/19/2015 at 1:23 p.m. Central: Check out the limited-time free-books offer here.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

Thirty-Six Reasons Why You Should Read The Clapper Memo

Sometimes, people ask me why they should read my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo. For them, I offer the 36 reasons below:

Click image above to order a copy of The Clapper Memo.

Click image above to order a copy of The Clapper Memo.

1. If you have ever had to submit to a polygraph examination in order to land or keep a job, you should read The Clapper Memo.

2. If you hold a security clearance and are subject to periodic polygraph examinations, you should read The Clapper Memo.

3. If you are now serving in any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States, you should read The Clapper Memo.

4. If you are a veteran who served in any branch of in the Armed Forces of the United States, you should read The Clapper Memo.

5. If you know someone who has served in any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States, you should read The Clapper Memo.

6. If you are considering joining the Armed Forces of the United States, you should read The Clapper Memo.

7. If you have ever been subjected to a polygraph examination as part of a criminal investigation, you should read The Clapper Memo.

8. If you expect to undergo a polygraph examination as part of a criminal investigation, you should read The Clapper Memo.

9. If you know someone who was convicted of a crime based upon the results of a polygraph examination, you should read The Clapper Memo.

10. If you have ever wondered about the validity of the polygraph, you should read The Clapper Memo.

11. If you are interested in learning about countermeasures that enable anyone to beat the polygraph, you should read The Clapper Memo.

12. If you are interested in reading details of what I learned about a non-polygraph credibility assessment technology for which no countermeasures exist, you should read The Clapper Memo.

13. If you are interested in what I learned during my exclusive interview with the man who interrogated Tariq Aziz and other members of Saddam Hussein’s infamous “Deck of Cards,” you should read The Clapper Memo.

14. If you are interested in what I learned during my exclusive interview with the former Army Green Beret who set the record for the most interrogations (500+) of enemy combatants in Iraq, you should read The Clapper Memo.

15. If you are interested in what I learned during my exclusive interview with a man who has used covert interrogation methods to help resolve more than 300 kidnapping cases in Mexico and send 450 criminals to prison, you should read The Clapper Memo.

16. If you are interested in what I learned by reading hundreds of email messages exchanged between top Justice Department officials and the academics they paid to conduct taxpayer-funded studies, you should read The Clapper Memo.

17. If you are interested in understanding one of the root causes of the deadly “Green-on-Blue” attacks against American warfighters in Afghanistan, you should read The Clapper Memo.

18. If you are interested in reading about apparent conflicts of interest and ethical lapses by some of our nation’s top intelligence officials, you should read The Clapper Memo.

The Clapper Memo Info & Endorsements

Click on image above to learn more and read endorsements of the book.

19. If you are interested in reading an example of why ABC News’ Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross has been labeled “America’s Wrongest Reporter,” you should read The Clapper Memo.

20. If you are interested in reading what I learned about how U.S. Government agencies made a mockery out of the Freedom of Information Act during the four years I spent conducting research for my book, you should read The Clapper Memo.

21. If you are interested in reading what I learned about how U.S. Government agencies dole out research dollars in the form of non-competitive grants to academics, you should read The Clapper Memo.

22. If you are interested in learning about a non-polygraph technology that, despite being embraced by more than 1,800 local and state law enforcement agencies is banned for use by Department of Defense personnel, you should read The Clapper Memo.

23. If you are interested in reading about how a top Department of Defense counterintelligence official used his position to promote his private investigation business, you should read The Clapper Memo.

24. If you are interested in reading about a non-polygraph technology proven to accurately detect stress in the human voice, you should read The Clapper Memo.

25. If you are interested in what senior interrogation officials at Guantanamo Bay had to say about the non-polygraph technology that was taken away from them after proving very successful, you should read The Clapper Memo.

26. If you are interested in what several members of our nation’s Special Forces community (i.e., Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets) had to say about the non-polygraph technology that was taken away from them after proving very successful, you should read The Clapper Memo.

27. If you think the United States should use the best technology available to interrogate detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, you should read The Clapper Memo.

28. If you think the United States should use the best technology available to interrogate enemy combatants, you should read The Clapper Memo.

29. If you think the United States should use the best technology available to interrogate suspected terrorists, you should read The Clapper Memo.

30. If you think the United States should use the best technology available to interrogate criminal suspects, you should read The Clapper Memo.

31. If you think the United States should stop relying upon century-old polygraph technology, you should read The Clapper Memo.

32. If you find it difficult to believe members of the American Polygraph Association are objective in their criticism of non-polygraph technology, you should read The Clapper Memo.

33. If you want to read the bloody details of a technological “turf war” that’s been raging quietly for more than 40 years between backers of the polygraph and those behind competing technologies, you should read The Clapper Memo.

34. If you trust people who put their lives on the line for their fellow citizens more than you trust academics, bureaucrats and politicians, you should read The Clapper Memo.

35. If you appreciate thorough investigative reporting that relies upon one-on-one interviews, thorough research and thousands of documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act and various state “sunshine” laws, you should read The Clapper Memo.

36. If you want to find out why the face of Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., our nation’s top intelligence official, appears on the cover of this book and why his name appears in the title of this book, you should read The Clapper Memo.

To find out what all of the fuss is about, order a copy of The Clapper Memo today!

UPDATE 4/19/2015 at 1:24 p.m. Central: Check out the limited-time free-books offer here.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.

The Uniformed Military Balked at ‘Enhanced Interrogation’ Because They Had Better Option in Now-Banned Technology

The headline above a recent Stars and Stripes article caught my eye, because it included four words — the uniformed military balked — that became familiar to me as I conducted an exhaustive four-year investigation into the federal government’s use of credibility assessment and interrogation technologies.

Click image above to read article.

Click image above to read article.

Those four words reminded me of the memos issued by three top DoD officials in an attempt to remove one interrogation technology from the toolkits of our nation’s top military and intelligence warfighters. Worth repeating is the fact that it took three memos, because most warfighters simply refused to give up the tool after the first two memos were issued in June 2004 and in 2007. In other words, the uniformed military balked. It was only after a third memo was issued in June 2008 that the technology was finally removed from warfighters’ toolkits.

Some of our nation’s top warfighters described their reactions to the memo-backed efforts to take away one of their most-effective interrogation tools.

A former member of the Navy SEALs, who spoke with me on the condition I not reveal his identity, said the second memo, issued by then-Under Secretary of Defense James R. Clapper Jr., was a contributing factor in his decision to retire from the military much earlier than he could have. He went on to say that the people responsible for efforts to remove that technology from the hands of warfighters “should face charges and do time.”

A former Army Green Beret, who used the now-banned technology to conduct some 500 interrogations of enemy combatants and other detainees, spoke with me under the same condition. He told me he “would testify in front of Congress that this piece of equipment is essential for (Human Intelligence) personnel on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.  If they want to save lives, they’ve got to put this piece of equipment back into that theater. Every unit should have this equipment.”

Why did members of the uniformed military balk at giving up this particular piece of interrogation technology? Because it works far better than any kind of torture or “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

There’s only one place where you’ll find the details about how well this technology worked with detainees at Guantanamo Bay, on members of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle (a.k.a., “The Deck of Cards”) and on members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban — inside the pages of my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo.

Click here to order a copy of The Clapper Memo.

Click here to read the high-profile endorsements the book has received.

UPDATE 4/19/2015 at 1:25 p.m. Central: Check out the limited-time free-books offer here.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.