The Hill, July 24, 2013: Congress has launched an investigation of the helicopter crash that killed 30 Americans in Afghanistan, including members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team 6 unit, The Hill has learned.
The victims’ families say the Pentagon hasn’t provided answers to their many questions about the deadly attack, which took place on Aug. 6, 2011, three months after Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan by Team 6 forces.
… Charlie Strange, whose son Michael was among those killed, said he asked President Obama two years ago at Dover Air Force Base to fully investigate. The death toll in the crash was the largest of any single incident for the U.S. military during the Afghanistan war.
Obama praised Michael’s service to Strange, who responded, “I don’t need to know about my son. I need to know what happened to my son.”
The president promised he would investigate, Strange said, but he never heard back from the White House. The Pentagon, meanwhile, has provided him and others with incomplete and contradictory information, he said.
Administration leaks that emerged after the bin Laden raid prompted members of Team 6 to worry about their safety.
For example, Michael Strange told his father he was working on a will before he returned to Afghanistan in the summer of 2011, his father said.
… a Department of Defense official disputed claims that there was an “ambush.”
… Yet, Strange says insurgents were boasting on the Internet they had taken out Team 6 shortly after the helicopter crashed.
Shortly before the CH-47 Chinook helicopter took off on a rescue mission (operation Extortion 17), seven Afghan commandos who were on the passenger list were replaced by other Afghan military officials.
… In the transcript related to the Pentagon’s probe, a Defense official confirmed that all seven names of the Afghan soldiers were incorrect.
… Among the dead were 30 Americans, including 22 Navy SEALS, seven Afghan soldiers and one Afghan translator. Their bodies were later recovered, but the helicopter’s black box was not. Pentagon officials have said that it could not be recovered, citing a flash flood that happened soon after the assault.
All the bodies were cremated. The Pentagon has defended the cremation to the soldiers’ families, saying the bodies were badly burned.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on National Security, however, said he has seen a photo of a deceased SEAL that was not [badly burned].
… During a ceremony at Bagram Air Base for the 38 killed, the deceased Afghan soldiers were loaded onto planes with the bodies of the U.S. forces. An imam spoke an Islamic prayer that included language on U.S. soldiers burning in hell.
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