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The Actions of Presidents Obama and Trump the Day After Navy SEALs Died in Combat Speaks Volumes About Character

Both former President Obama and the current President Trump have taken criticism after Navy SEALs have fallen in combat on their watch. Yet how the two presidents handled the loss of these American heroes, both during and days after the tragic deaths, reveal a great deal about the priorities of the administrations.

A Navy SEAL Team Six assault on a suspected al-Qaeda compound had been planned months in advance. The operation was green-lighted by newly sworn-in President Trump and it was carried out in late January, just weeks after he came into office.

The operation took a toll: on the elite fighting force that is the Navy SEALs, and on al-Qaeda operatives – fourteen of them by estimated count.

Among the casualties was an 8-year-old American girl, the daughter of Yemeni-American terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki. As reported by NPR, local Saudis claim at least two dozen civilians were killed. U.S. Centcom attributes the “known possible civilian casualties” to aerial support given to the SEAL team.

The execution of the raid has been the source of contention during the early days of the Trump administration. NPR states that, “claims and counterclaims from the U.S. military and local residents described a chaotic operation, one that drew sharp criticism from Yemeni officials who usually support the U.S.”

Some have even gone so far as to say the operation that killed fourteen al-Qaeda terrorists was “botched” due to President Trump’s absence from the Situation Room.

It’s a question that was asked about the whereabouts of former President Obama during an 8-hour, repeated terrorist assault on a State Department annex in Benghazi, Libya: Where was the president?

The Huffington Post has approached this question from the vantage point of a tweet that was posted January 28 at 5:50 p.m. — and then suddenly deleted later. The publication writes:

“I will be interviewed by @TheBrodyFile on @CBNNews tonight at 11pm. Enjoy!” read a tweet from President Donald Trump’s personal account on Saturday, Jan. 28.

Whether it was Trump himself or an aide who sent out that tweet at 5:50 p.m. ― about half an hour into a firefight that cost a Navy SEAL his life ― cannot be determined from the actual tweets, and the White House isn’t saying. Likewise, it’s not clear who deleted the tweet some 20 minutes later, or why the new president, just a week on the job, chose not to directly monitor the first high-risk military operation on his watch.

Quite a charge to make against the president, and a rather damning indictment of the Commander-in-Chief’s priorities.

However, there is another explanation: The tweet was scheduled to be posted at that time; and upon news of the firefight — during an operation that did not run flawlessly due to what some believe was an al-Qaeda tip-off — the tweet was deleted out of respect for the military operation.

The Huffington Post story even acknowledges the potential flaw of using such a tweet as evidence of the president’s “callous” disregard for the troops:

The CBN interview did not actually air until the following night, Jan. 29, and Trump or an aide may have realized the error and deleted the tweet for that reason. Alternatively, Trump or an aide might have realized that the Yemen operation was going badly and deleted the tweet to avoid looking callous. The tweet appears to have been sent via an iPhone, not via Android. Tweets sent from an iPhone are generally from the president’s staff, often taking his dictation, while tweets sent by Android are usually composed by Trump himself.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer addressed concerns about the president’s whereabouts during the operation.

“He was obviously aware of the strike occurring,” Spicer said on the Monday after the raid. “He was kept in constant contact Saturday night of the status of the mission, both of the success that it had and the tragic loss of life that occurred to that member.”

The Huffington Post report goes on in an attempt to ascertain Trump’s location:

Spicer, though, has not specifically said what Trump was doing between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 28, other than to say he was in the White House residence ― not in the Situation Room. That’s the hour ― 1:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. local time ― when the firefight in Yemen resulted in the deaths of some 30 people, according to news reports. U.S. forces had called in air strikes because of the ferocity of the resistance they encountered. At least 10 of those killed were women or children.

A check of the White House log shows, however, that President Trump was scheduled for a meeting at 7 p.m. with the Acting President of South Korea, Hwang Kyo-Ahn.

As reported via the White House Dossier:

1:30 pm || Speaks with the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud

2:00 pm || Speaks with Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed bin Zayed

3:00 pm || Hosts a movie screening

7:00 pm || Speaks with the Acting President of South Korea, Hwang Kyo-Ahn

Furthermore, the same Huffington Post report also admits that former President Obama was not always in the Situation Room during a military operation, but rather monitored it while conducting other presidential business. As the report states:

“Obviously, if a raid is only 20 minutes in, you should wait to see how it turns out before tweeting,” said one former National Security Council participant under former President Barack Obama. The staffer added that while Obama did not monitor every operation from the Situation Room (as he did during the one that killed Osama bin Laden), it seemed odd that Trump did not monitor this operation. “It is your first one.”

The timing of the CBN tweet and its deletion is the latest detail in the story of a military special operation that went not at all as planned.

While the report goes into detail asking a question that is answered by a short look at the presidential diary, there wasn’t nearly as much curiosity about former President Obama’s whereabouts during, and the day after, a siege of the State Department annex in Benghazi.

It is a matter of dispute whether or not former President Obama was even in the Situation Room on September 11, 2011. Obama was in the White House; however, there are conflicting reports and a denial by a National Security Council spokesman that the former president ever appeared in the command-and-control room.

Regardless, an Obama aide even went so far as to say it was an “irrelevant fact” where President Obama was during the Benghazi raid, which lasted over eight-and-a-half hours without an immediately dispatched rescue attempt, as Pentagon and State Department officials testified.

But did Trump have a role or responsibility in the Yemen raid as some media reports?

Via IJR:

Independent Journal Review talked to former U.S. Army Ranger Marty Skovlund about the issue. Skovlund served three tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.

The special operator said:

“It’s irrelevant and never happens. The only time that I’ve been aware of observing a mission is the Bin Laden raid. The only input they have on it is go or no go for high level missions. They take no part in the planning process, they are not part of the supervisory process by any means.

Putting the raid on Trump is the equivalent of putting the crashed helicopter on the Bin Laden raid on Obama. The president isn’t a position to plan or supervise, he’s so far from the battlefield. It’s not accurate to say the Commander-in-Chief has any say in the intelligence or the battle plan.”

The former president is well aware of the optics of a Commander-in-Chief presiding over a military operation. That is one reason Obama and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton posed for an iconic photograph from the Situation Room during the bin Laden raid in 2011:

As related by Robert O’Neill, the Navy SEAL who shot bin Laden himself, he had “never met” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as of October 2016 and she was not a part of the ceremony to thank SEALs for carrying out the raid.

Furthermore, the night of the Benghazi terrorist attack that saw the death of four Americans, President Obama was confirmed to have taken a jet to attend a Las Vegas fundraiser.

After missing her 3 a.m. phone call to convene a State Department security group to dispatch a rescue team to the diplomatic compound, Hillary Clinton would go on to blame the terrorist attack on a protest that never happened, while at a service for the fallen diplomats Ambassador Christopher Stevens and Sean Smith and slain Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

After slain Navy SEAL William Owens came home to the United States after his ultimate sacrifice during the Yemen operation, President Trump, without fanfare or media publicity, suddenly left the White House on Marine One to attend the transfer of remains at Dover Air Force Base.

Despite the media fanfare and hype surrounding the Trump administration, it is the quiet moments of humility and class that often speak the loudest above the noise.