Larry Klayman tells of inadequate committee hearing on fateful U.S. mission
This week we learned that the ever “media friendly” smiling publicity hound of the House of Representatives, Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, would not run again for his seat next year. Ironically, as Chaffetz announced that he would step down from his seemingly powerful role as chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee — a body that is the investigative “scandal arm” of the House — it was revealed by Circa News that an investigation he had conducted over the tragic shoot down of Extortion 17 was part of an elaborate government cover-up, itself criminal in nature. Had Chaffetz remained as chairman, ironically, his own committee would have had to investigate and likely take action against him. Let me explain.
Extortion 17 was a hastily arranged mission in Afghanistan in 2011 whereby 30 American servicemen, 22 of them special ops, were sent into battle allegedly to kill terrorists and then shot down by the Taliban, with the financial and other assistance of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the complicity of then Afghan President Hamid Karzai, one of the most corrupt politicians in world history. This occurred just three months after Osama bin Laden was allegedly killed. (A picture of bin Laden’s body has never been disclosed publicly. Some have speculated that he died before of natural causes and that President Obama claimed credit to further his 2012 election effort.) Several brave heroes died tragically on that fateful day, Aug. 6, 2011.
The shoot down of the Extortion 17 mission was payback for America’s having “killed” bin Laden. Karzai’s involvement — whereby it is believed he disclosed the coordinates of this secret mission, allowing the Taliban to shoot down the Chinook helicopter that was carrying our servicemen — was undoubtedly intended to offer up the dead bodies of our heroes in exchange for cash and an agreement by the Taliban not to bring down his corrupt Afghan administration and/or assassinate him.
There remained many mysteries about the Extortion 17 shoot down. First, the Obama administration’s Defense Department’s crash report stated that there were no eyes in the sky over the Chinook helicopter, which generally are intended as a safety measure to warn mission commanders and their troops of danger from the air and on the ground. Next, the crash report stated that a black box that would have revealed the cause or causes of the crash was never found, and instead it washed away in a flood. (I have quipped sarcastically that there has not been a flood in this part of the Middle East since Noah’s Ark.) To add even more suspicion, the Obama Defense Department revealed that seven Afghan commandos — who were to go on that tragic mission — were substituted out for seven unknown other Afghan commandos at the last minute before taking off. The manifest of the flight, which must be kept under our military’s protocols, never listed who these new commandos were. Last, but hardly least in the anomalies of the crash report, the old and slow Chinook helicopter, of 1960s vintage hovered over the crash site for about 13 minutes, sitting there like a “dead duck” before being shot down by an “RPG” or “MANPADS.”
As a final insult, the bodies of some of our heroes were cremated, without the permission or informed consent of their parents, by the Obama Defense Department to cover up the evidence of the causes of their death.
The secretary of defense at the time was one Leon Panetta, a soft-spoken and seemingly likeable man who in reality is a corrupt political hack. I had obtained and uncovered in court during the 1990s, when Panetta was President Clinton’s White House chief of staff, that he had effectively obstructed justice in the Chinagate scandal when he instructed staff to “slow roll” production of incriminating documents to Judicial Watch in my successful case against the Commerce Department over the illegal sale of seats on trade missions in exchange for political contributions.
How can one explain that 30 servicemen, including members of SEAL Team VI, were sent into battle on an old, out-of-date and hellishly slow helicopter and allowed to so easily die at the hands of the Taliban? And, how can it be explained that when many of the victims’ families asked Chairman Chaffetz to conduct a real investigation concerning the causes of the tragedy and who is responsible for it, that the hearing he and his congressional minions eventually held offered no new information. Instead, they refused to allow our clients, Charles Strange, the father of dead NSA cryptologist and support personnel for SEAL Team VI Michael Strange, to testify, as well as prevented the father of National Guardsman Patrick Hamburger, Doug Hamburger, to say his piece.
This week, insight into this cover-up was disclosed by Circa News in an interview with a highly decorated Air Force pilot/targeter, Joni Marquez, who indeed, along with her co-pilot, was flying above the Chinook, as an eye in the sky, that fateful night. Embedded below is that interview of this brave whistleblower who, after years of emotional distress, is risking her career to come forward to tell the truth about the cover-up.
As you can see and hear, Marquez chronicles that Extortion 17 was unnecessarily sacrificed by a corrupt or recklessly incompetent military establishment that did not heed her and her co-pilot’s warnings to have our brave heroes quickly evacuate the eventual crash site when it appeared that the Taliban fighters were regrouping and ready to attack the Chinook. And, because of the Obama Defense Department’s “Rules of Engagement,” the servicemen were not permitted to fire first on the terrorists, but instead had to wait to be fired upon. By then it was too late!
And, this is not just about the Panetta-Obama Defense Department cover-up, but also the cover-up of Chairman Chaffetz in conducting a sham investigation and hearing about the causes of the crash.
Heads will now roll over this deadly outrage, and Rep. Chaffetz was wise to get “out of Dodge” before the “after-blast” from the Taliban’s Extortion 17 fatal attack politically and perhaps criminally takes him and his co-conspirators out as well.
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Larry Klayman is a former Justice Department prosecutor and the founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch. His latest book is “Whores: Why and How I Came to Fight the Establishment.”