Although Pentagon officials have said the raid produced “actionable intelligence,” senior officials who spoke to NBC News said they were unaware of any, even as the father of the dead SEAL questioned the premise of the raid in an interview with the Miami Heraldpublished Sunday.
“Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into [President Trump’s] administration?” Bill Owens, whose youngest son Ryan was killed during the raid, said. “For two years prior … everything was missiles and drones (in Yemen)….Now all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?”
A senior Congressional official briefed on the matter said the Trump administration has yet to explain what prompted the rare use of American ground troops in Yemen, but he said he was not aware of any new threat from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the al Qaeda affiliate that was targeted.
The official, and others briefed on the matter who spoke to NBC News, echoed the remarks of Sen. John McCain, R.-Ariz., that the raid was designed to kill or capture one or more militants — something the military did not initially acknowledge.
The White House has repeatedly called the Yemen mission a success. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Feb. 8 that anyone “who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and [does] a disservice to the life of Chief Owens.”
“We gathered an unbelievable amount of intelligence that will prevent the potential deaths or attacks on American soil,” said Spicer.