March 01, 2017

Stolen Valor

By Phillip Carter

If you stuck with President Donald Trump to the end of his speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, you would have been treated to a patriotic display that much of the media felt was guaranteed to warm your heart. For two minutes and 11 seconds, Trump exhorted the audience in Congress—and at home—to stand for Carryn Owens, the wife of Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed during a disastrous counterterrorism raid in Yemen ordered by Trump just days after his inauguration.

Words cannot convey my compassion and sympathy for Owens and her family. And yet, at the same time, I can barely contain my anger and disgust at the way that Trump put her on display, seeking to appropriate her grief—and her deceased husband’s heroism—for his political gain. This was stolen valor on a presidential scale. And to make matters worse, it fits into a broader pattern of integrity theft by Trump, wherein he’s sought during his first weeks in office to attack or corrupt the integrity of the CIA, the military, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Owens served with the best of the best: Navy SEAL Team 6, an elite counterterrorism force created in the early 1980s that stands above and apart from other SEAL teams (let alone conventional military units). Trump ordered Owens’ unit to conduct a raid in Yemen one week after taking office; the raid had been previously deferred as too risky by the Obama administration. On the ground in Yemen, Owens died during the first few minutes of the operation, which appears to have gone wrong for a multitude of reasons. The raid’s intelligence and strategic value is now being hotly debated, along with broader questions about our national objectives and operations in Yemen.

Read the full article at Slate.

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