The father of a US Navy Seal killed during an anti-terrorism raid in Yemen is demanding an investigation into its planning, criticising the Trump administration over its timing.
Bill Owens told The Miami Herald that he refused to meet with President Donald Trump when both came to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to receive the casket carrying his son, Chief Special Warfare Officer William “Ryan” Owens.
“I want an investigation,” said Mr Owens, a retired Fort Lauderdale police detective and a military veteran. “The government owes my son an investigation.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told ABC News she believes the president would support an investigation.
“I can’t imagine what this father is going through,” she said. “His son is a true American hero, and we should forever be in his son’s debt.”
The younger Owens, a 36-year-old married father of three, was the lone US fatality in the raid last month on a suspected al-Qaeda compound. Approximately 16 civilians and 14 militants died in the attack, which the Pentagon said was aimed at capturing information on potential al-Qaeda attacks against the US and its allies.
His father told the Herald he refused to meet with the president because the family had requested a private ceremony.
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,” Mr Owens recalled telling the chaplain who informed him that Mr Trump was on his way from Washington. “I told them I don’t want to meet the president.”
He said he was also troubled by the attack Mr Trump levelled at Khizr and Ghazala Kahn, an American Muslim couple whose Army officer son died in Iraq in 2004. The couple had criticised Mr Trump at the Democratic National Convention last summer.
Mr Owens also questioned why the president approved the raid a week after taking office.
“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Mr Owens said.
“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?”
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
The White House says the raid was planned during the Obama administration, but the former president’s aides have said he hadn’t given the go-ahead because it would have been an escalation of US involvement in the war-torn and destitute Arab country.
Ms Sanders said: “The mission has a lot of different critics, but it did yield a substantial amount of very important intel and resources that helped save American lives and other lives.”
Copyright Associated Press