Donald Trump bungled his first operation as Commander-in-Chief. Trump ordered the raid without “sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations,” according to a Reuters report.
The Navy SEAL raid on al Qaeda in Yemen over the weekend resulted in the death of U.S. Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens and non-combatant civilian deaths, including possibly children, while not producing any militants or taking any prisoners. White House spokesperson Sean Spicer claims that intelligence was gathered, but Spicer’s track record with the truth is less than encouraging.
Ayesha Rascoe for Reuters reported that the military is looking into the possibility of more civilian deaths during the raid, after medics at the scene reported “about 30 people, including 10 women and children, were killed.”
Buckle up for this part because it’s the part where Trump just went in, like he said he would, without even bothering to prepare the basics, “U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.”
“As a result, three officials said, the attacking SEAL team found itself dropping onto a reinforced al Qaeda base defended by landmines, snipers, and a larger than expected contingent of heavily armed Islamist extremists.”
A White House official told Reuters that the operation had been signed off by the previous administration in January and had been delayed for “operational reasons.”
From this statement we gather that the Trump White House ordered the raid without looking at any new information. When it went wrong, they blamed Obama.
However, “(O)ne of the three U.S. officials said on-the-ground surveillance of the compound was ‘minimal, at best.'”
And so the decision was made to leave the raid to the new administration in hopes that they could gather better intelligence first, “The decision was made … to leave it to the incoming administration, partly in the hope that more and better intelligence could be collected.”
Perhaps we can agree with the Trump administration that the Obama administration should never have assumed that the Trump administration could or would bother to gather intelligence. After all, Trump keeps telling everyone our intelligence community isn’t worth listening to and he didn’t need intelligence briefings since he is, and I quote, “I’m, like, a smart person.”
The Trump administration’s lack of preparation and attention to detail got a Navy SEAL killed. For this, he blames Obama.
Which, if accurate (and it’s not), would beg the question why doesn’t Trump think he’s supposed to keep on top of current information. If he’s going to rely on old Obama info, perhaps he should step aside and let the man who got Osama lead again.
Instead we are stuck with a petulant child who still expects Obama to do the hard work for him while he obsesses over crowd size and how the country despises him already. Does Trump even know the basics regarding the job?
For the party that drooled over the tragedy of Benghazi, picking through the rubble of personal tragedy to mine for political gold for years, this is an ironic start. They might claim it’s unfair to accuse Trump of getting the SEAL killed, but these are their own standards, set in stone after years of wasting taxpayer money investigating the tragedy in hopes of pinning it on Clinton. When the evidence didn’t comply, they just made things up.
Additionally, failures happen, but it helps to prepare. It helps to trust experts. It helps to respect intelligence reports. If a leader has done none of these things, he or she is to blame for the failure.
It also helps to be accountable for decisions, because it suggests that the leader might be an adult who can learn from their mistakes.
Donald Trump completely blew this raid for reasons that were apparent during the campaign and continue to be problematic.
Intel is not static. This is like step one in the Intelligence Guide for Dummies. Are you scared yet?
Update: The Trump administration misled the press again. It turns out “The specific operation in question was never presented to or considered by the Obama Admin for approval.”
Except it was misleading. The specific operation in question was never presented to or considered by the Obama Admin for approval. https://t.co/v0KwnhhRj9
— Ned Price (@nedprice) February 2, 2017
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.