William “Ryan” Owens, a Navy SEAL, was killed in a raid in Yemen. The raid, the first ordered by President Donald Trump, has drawn criticism from many sides for its high number of civilian casualties. And now, Ryan Owens’ father is asking for an explanation.
Bill Owens was there to receive his son’s body when he returned to the states. The family had asked for a private gathering, yet President Trump came also.
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,’’ Owens recalled in an interview with the Miami Herald. “I told them I don’t want to meet the President.”
“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Owens said.
Bill Owens has a record of military service himself, and he wasn’t happy with how Trump had treated a Gold Star family on the campaign trail.
When Ryan was killed Jan. 28, Bill became part of that extended Gold Star family. As tie has passed, his mistrust of the President has only deepened.
“Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why? For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen — everything was missiles and drones — because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?’’ He asked.
The Trump administration has characterized the mission as a success. “This was a very, very well thought-out and executed effort,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Feb. 2. He dismissed critics who claim the planning had been rushed by noting that the raid had been planned by the Obama administration.
Others are less confident, and have asked for an investigation. Even Republicans like John McCain have asked for an explanation.
The White House, though, deflects criticism by holding up Ryan Owens’ bravery. To question the planning, Spicer said, “undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and a disservice to life of Chief Owens.”
“Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation,” said Owens. “I want an investigation. […] The government owes my son an investigation.”
Owens believes there may be an element of Trump’s immigration ban that is to blame for the raid’s failure and the death of his son. Yemen was among the nations shut out by Trump’s ban.
“It just doesn’t make any sense to do something to antagonize an ally when you’re going to conduct a mission in that country,” he said. “Did we alienate some of the people working with them, translators or support people. Maybe they decided to release information to jeopardize the mission.”
“I think these are valid questions. I don’t want anybody to think I have an agenda, because I don’t. I just want the truth.”