U.S. officials claim that no significant intelligence has yet been revealed after a Special Forces raid in Yemen last month that turned into a chaotic firefight, taking the life of one Navy SEAL and possibly dozens of civilians, including children.
The botched mission on Jan. 29, authorized by President Donald Trump just days after his inauguration, had been in the works for months, but former President Barack Obama declined to carry it out under his term, NBC News reports.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters in early February that the U.S. had acquired an “unbelievable amount of intelligence that will prevent the potential deaths or attacks on American soil.”
An NBC News exclusive report, however, said that while the White House and the Pentagon have both claimed the raid was a success, several senior officials who spoke with the network have seen no evidence of valuable intelligence.
Officials briefed on the matter told NBC that the mission’s aim was likely to kill or capture one or more militants associated with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
According to NBC, Pentagon officials have said that “actionable intelligence” was collected during the operation, but news outlets including NBC and CNN report that the agency has to date released only one video clip that later proved to be nearly a decade old and already publicly available.
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Officials said at the time that the video was made public to demonstrate that materials obtained during the raid were valuable. The video was quickly removed after it was found to be obsolete, and a Pentagon official said the Central Command was fully responsibility for its release.
Last month, a joint force of Navy SEALS and elite forces from the United Arab Emirates reportedly came under heavy fire during the mission. Subsequent reports suggested that militants used civilians as human shields when the U.S.-led troops fired back, and that some women then took up arms and joined the fight. Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens of SEAL Team 6, died during the raid, and the Pentagon acknowledged that several civilians were likely killed in the crossfire.
A report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism said the casualties totaled 25, including nine children, a number that has not been disputed by the Pentagon.
According to USA Today, three military probes are now underway to address some of the questions surrounding the raid; Owens’ death, civilian casualties and the loss of a valuable Osprey aircraft.
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