CENTCOM commander defends Yemen raid where U.S. SEAL killed

Quesions over Yemen raid
Quesions over Yemen raid 02:09

The White House said today that the military is conducting three investigations of an anti-terrorism raid one month ago in Yemen. 

Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens was killed along with a dozen civilians. Other Americans were wounded and a U.S. aircraft was lost. 

Now, Owen’s father is demanding answers.

Father of Navy SEAL killed in Yemen 02:29

President Trump earlier this month described meeting the family of Navy SEAL Owens when his body was returned to the U.S.

“His family was there, incredible family, loved him so much, so devastated,” Mr. Trump said.

But Owens’ father, Bill, declined a meeting with his son’s commander in chief. In an interview with the Miami Herald, he said, “I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him.” 

Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens died Jan. 28 of wounds sustained during a raid in Yemen. Handout

He asked, “Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission, when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration?”

Under the cover of night on Jan. 28, SEAL Team Six became pinned down outside the al Qaeda compound. They were forced to call in a helicopter gunship to silence the fire. Fourteen al Qaeda operatives and at least 15 civilians were killed in the firefight.

Owens also was killed, and a $72 million evacuation aircraft crash landed and had to be destroyed.

“The timing of this was linked to the broader offensive that we’re pursuing in Yemen,” said Army General Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command.

Votel told CBS News’ David Martin that preparation for the operation was thorough. Votel monitored the raid in real time.

“Some people have called it a success. Some people have called it a failure. What would you call it?” Martin asked.

“Well again, I mean, the object was to go in and collect intelligence,” Votel said. “We accomplished that, so from that perspective it was successful. I certainly understand how the family would look at this in a different light.”  

Army General Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command. CBS Evening News

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the Pentagon is conducting a review of the battle in Yemen, which is standard whenever a mission results in loss of life. Spicer also offered his condolences to the Owens family on behalf of the president.

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    Jan Crawford is CBS News' chief legal correspondent and based in Washington, D.C.