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WASHINGTON – The National Press Club in Washington fell silent as Charles Strange recalled how he leaned over to whisper into President Obama's ear to ask if there would be a congressional investigation into the death of his son.
President Obama whispered back, "We will look very, very, very deep into this."
But Strange says he hasn't heard a word since that encounter with the president at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Aug. 9, 2011, when the remains of 30 U.S. troops were brought home from Afghanistan.
Navy SEAL Team VI special forces serviceman Michael Strange was killed in what is considered the worst loss of American lives in the war in Afghanistan, the downing of a Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2011, that killed all 38 people on board.
That included 25 American special operations personnel, five U.S. Army National Guard and Army Reserve crewmen, a U.S. military dog, seven Afghan commandos and an Afghan interpreter.
The circumstances of the incident raised troubling questions for family members of those killed, but they couldn't convince Congress to launch an inquiry. Families of three Navy SEAL Team VI special forces servicemen killed in the attack took their case to the public Thursday and held a news conference to demand an investigation.
They feel their sons were targeted for retaliation by the Taliban after Vice President Joe Biden revealed, and the administration then confirmed, that it was a Seal Team VI unit that had killed Osama bin Laden just three months earlier.
The families are planning to file a lawsuit against the President and Biden, the Taliban, the governments of Afghanistan and Iran (because it promises to pay $10,000 for every dead U.S. service member.) The families are represented by former Reagan Justice Department attorney Larry Klayman, who also founded Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, the latter sponsoring Thursday's news conference.
When WND asked if Klayman could divulge more about the nature of the lawsuits he replied, "Stay tuned."
Among their many suspicions, the families question the sudden replacement of seven Afghan commandos on board the helicopter just before take-off. The seven who died in the attack are not the seven listed in the flight manifest. The families say, to this day, none of them know who those dead Afghans were.
That leads the families to wonder if the original commandos may have tipped off the Taliban as to who was on board.
When WND asked Billy Vaughn, father of killed Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn, if he thought the attack was an inside job, he said, "Yes."
The families suspect the Taliban set a trap by starting a firefight and then luring the SEALS.
A series of factors combined to make the family believe this attack was carefully planned and not just the result of a random "lucky shot," as the U.S. military brass had told them.
Billy Vaughn said the SEALS were ferried by a Vietnam-era Chinook helicopter rather than their customary state-of-the art special forces choppers because of a shortage of those models, due to an increase in special operations ordered by the president. The Taliban were apparently aware of that situation and could have been waiting for the opportunity to target the older and much more vulnerable aircraft.
Before landing the Chinook, U.S. fighters were not allowed to clear the area of potential enemies with suppressing fire because there could possibly have been civilians in the area.
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Allen West, a former congressman, said to put a Chinook into an operation that had been going on for hours with no suppressing fire was "incomprehensible."
The Chinook was attacked at its most vulnerable moment, just as it was landing.
The U.S. military said the helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled-grenade, but that would have to be such a "lucky shot." Some suspect the craft was more likely hit by a heat-seeking missile.
The families say they can't understand why the chopper's black box was never recovered. One father noted that officials often recover the black boxes of commercial airplanes from the bottom of the ocean, but they can't find this one in an Afghan stream.
U.S. troops were unable to return fire because of rules of engagement and the possibility of "friendlies" in the building from which the attack was launched. West called that "unconscionable."
Vaughn said a high-ranking member of the U.S. military told him the American mission in Afghanistan was to change the hearts and minds of the enemy. But he said his son didn't join the military to change the enemy's mind.
Karen Vaughn said rules of engagement that aim to change the hearts and the minds of the enemy "are more important (to the U.S. military) than the life of my son."
And former Navy SEAL Benjamin Smith wondered, "Are we not Shariah-compliant already?"
Vaughn said he called House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to inquire about the death of his son and received no answer. He said the office of the Democratic Chairman of the Armed Services Committee told him to "quit harassing Sen. (Carl) Levin."
The families say the circumstances are so suspicious, and there are so many unanswered questions, that the situation demands a congressional inquiry. But aside from such attendees at the news conference as Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, their pleas have fallen largely on deaf ears.