I know it’s not exactly “breaking news” to learn of the fact that Donald Trump lied about something. This is a man who lies so often, fact-checkers have trouble keeping up with everything. That being said, not all lies are equal.
Such as his continued insistence that his first military operation in Yemen which resulted in the tragic death of Navy SEAL Ryan Owens was a “huge success.” During his speech on Tuesday, he read comments he claims were directly from Defense Secretary James Mattis:
Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.
The death of Owens is heartbreaking, and you definitely don’t want to be someone acting as if he died for nothing. However, that doesn’t give Trump the right to keep trying to exploit what happened during this raid, even possibly lying directly to Owens’ widow Tuesday.
According to NBC News:
Ten current U.S. officials across the government who have been briefed on the details of the raid told NBC News that so far, no truly significant intelligence has emerged from the haul.
A U.S. intelligence official told NBC News that the Trump administration continues to call the mission a success because “they have become locked into a narrative that no evidence and no one in the Intelligence Community can corroborate.” The official said that Sen. John McCain publicly disputed the success of the raid because the Defense Department has briefed many in Congress on what actually occurred during the raid.
Asked to compare the materials gathered in the 2011 SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden to the materials in the Yemen raid, the official said, “There is no comparison in either quality or quantity. There is no amazing laptop that we got, or thumb drive that reveals something big. No map to Zawahiri kind of thing.”
“But it’s also important to note that we didn’t expect to gather anything like that. This was a house where some bad guys were supposed to be. We didn’t get the guys we wanted and the ones who were there were clearly ready for us.”
In other words, while they obtained some information, these officials confirm earlier reports that the operation was far from a success, and certainly wouldn’t be considered a “highly successful raid” based on what they consider underwhelming evidence that came at the cost of Owens’ life.
Keep in mind that earlier in the day Tuesday, Trump actually tried to blame Owens’ death on military leaders and the Obama administration. So how can Trump believe that this mission was “highly successful” when, just a few hours before he gave his speech, he was trying to blame others for its failures and the death of Ryan Owens? Because I know this much, he certainly wasn’t trying to give credit to President Obama when he brought up the previous administration.
However, a conflicting report from CNN claims officials have told them the raid led to information identifying “hundreds” of contacts, mainly in Europe, they can now monitor.
The bottom line is, currently, no one truly knows how successful this raid was or wasn’t. Multiple reports over the last several weeks have indicated that the raid was considered a failure by most with knowledge of what took place, while this recent CNN story has officials telling them that it did yield valuable actionable evidence.
Naturally, I’m a little suspicious of the timing of this report from CNN. Not because I think they’re “fake news,” but I don’t trust anything that sounds as if it might be propaganda fed to the media by the Trump administration to make him look good. After weeks of reports countering Trump’s claim that the mission was a success, just two days after he tried to blame Barack Obama for its failures, this report just happens to come out on the same day Jeff Sessions is facing some serious pressure to resign following the revelation he lied under oath to Congress.
Honestly, my biggest issue with all of this has been my belief that Trump’s tried to spin what happened in Yemen, regardless of facts, because he wants to make himself look good. It’s never been about him, as a true leader, being stoic about a raid where a man died or even taking responsibility for ordering a fatal mission. Like nearly everything else involving Trump, it’s about making himself look better and boosting his own ego.
Time will tell whether or not the information gained from this raid proves to be valuable, but nothing will ever make up for the loss of Ryan Owens to his friends and family.