Two weeks before the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, Charles Strange received the following message from his son Petty Officer First Class Michael. “ Dad, I just want you to know, You won’t be able to call. text message or e-mail me for a few weeks, you’ll soon know why.”
On May 1, 2011, as the raid is unfolding in Abbottabad, all eyes are on Seal Team Six from the Situation Room in The White House.
Just two days later, May 3rd Vice President Joe Biden reveals top secret classified information while speaking at an awards dinner in the Ritz Carlton Hotel. He boasts that it was Seal Team Six who carried out the raid, and goes one step further by revealing the name of the Seal Commander. Some Seal Team family members feel these revelations are grounds for charges of treason.
Earlier that same evening while appearing on the PBS NewsHour former CIA Director Leon Panetta told PBS that “ the decision to shoot Bin Laden was all split-decision action on the part of of the SEAL team. The following month, on the 24th of June, Panetta continued his suspicious “outing” of SEAL Team Six when he revealed to 1300 people the classified information surrounding the OBL raid to 1300 people, including writers and directors of the movie “Zero Dark Thirty.” Politico story.
The following day, May 4, Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed his “ concern and disgust” over the outing of the Navy SEAL team. Gates says that “ in the situation Room that Sunday night it had been agreed among everyone that NO details be released to the public about the mission. After that agreement had been broken the very next day Gates was confronted by members of the navy’s elite fighting units and expressed the fact that “they were very concerned for the safety of their families, for gates’ family, the troops and the Elite units engaged in things like this.” Mediaite column on Robert Gates leak.
May 11, 2001 General Jeffrey Colt, who would later be tasked with heading the investigation into the events surrounding extortion 17, asks the Air Force Commander in Afghanistan for an assessment of the Tanqi Valley. The valley is known as a hotbed of Taliban activity. The AFC tells Colt, “over 100 Taliban plan to travel from the (redacted) Province to the Tanqi specifically to shoot down the coalition force aircraft. Family members point to “Exhibit 89” in their paperwork as an example of the notion that the military knew ahead of time that they would be sending the Team into a hotspot without proper support on the ground or in the air.
Among the many anomalies and suspicious circumstances surrounding the mission of “ Extortion 17”, one that goes almost unnoticed in discussion’s is that fact, the fact that just one day prior to the mission Taliban commander Qari Tahir moved out of the Tanqi Valley. Family members believed he was informed that SEAL Team Six was coming in to get him.
“ On August 6, 7th, and 8th we were told over and over again that EVERYONE was burnt beyond recognition and they were all pretty much cremated, I came to find out later my son, Michael WAS NOT burned beyond because he either jumped or was thrown from the chopper!! Why lie to us about it?,” Strange asked.
“At the ramp ceremony, when Michael returned home,the President put his arms on my shoulders and told me my son had changed this country. I put my arms on his shoulders and told him, Mr.President I don’t need to know about my son, I need to know what happened. He put his lips close to my ear and told me the situation would be looked into deeply.”
It is almost three years later, the parents of Michael Strange, the parents of Aaron Vaughn, along with all the families of those brave men killed still search for answers.