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Extortion 17: 6 Years Later Retired Air Force Captain Says Pentagon Covered Up Real Cause of Crash

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August 6, 2017 marks the 6 year anniversary of the downing of Extortion 17, a bigger scandal than Benghazi in large part due to the fact that America lost 30 of its military personnel, including 17 Navy SEALs, the largest loss of life in the Afghan war.

Extortion 17 has been written about from one of the SEALs’ father’s point of view in Betrayed: The Shocking True Story of Extortion 17 as told by a Navy SEAL’s Father, as well as official documents regarding the crash examined by former Navy JAG officer Don Brown in Call Sign Extortion 17: The Shoot-Down of SEAL Team Six.

However, ahead of the sixth year anniversary decorated retired Air Force Captain Joni Marquez, who witnessed the attack spoke out and claims the government is covering up the evidence for the downing of the Chinook helicopter.

Captain Marquez, the fire control officer, and her crew were aboard an AC-130 gunship.

The gunship she was on was to fly close-in air support above Afghanistan’s dangerous Tangi Valley in order to assist the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment who were being fired on by eight heavily armed Taliban insurgents.

This is the very area that Extortion 17 was being sent into.

Marquez says that they did fire on the Taliban fighters, killing most of them, but at least two were able to get away in her first interview since the incident.

“I had the sensor operators immediately shift to the eight insurgents the helicopters had taken out,” Marquez told Circa in April. “Two were still alive.”

With two still alive, Marquez said, “We had seen two of them (insurgents) moving, crawling away from the area, as to not really make a whole lot of scene.”

Monitoring the scene from above, she relayed the scene to the ground force commander. “You have two enemy forces that are still alive,” she told the ground force commander. “Permission to engage.”

Her request was denied, and it proved to be fatal for 38 men aboard Extortion 17.

Ms. Marquez believes that the ground commander’s decision is what cost the men their lives.

Marquez and her team watched as the two enemy combatants went from house to house, collecting more insurgents from a nearby village.

“They continued to essentially gain more and more force behind them because they just kept knocking on doors,” she said. “And the two personnel that initially fled ended up becoming a group of 12 people.”

All this took place as Extortion 17 was called in.

Marquez and her team pleaded to have Extortion 17 turn back because they realized the danger, but those warnings went unheeded.

“Whenever we reached out to the Joint Operations Center, they would essentially just push back with, ‘Find a, a good infill location. Find a good helicopter landing zone,’” said Marquez.

However, by the time Extortion 17 arrived, it was too late.  Their fate was sealed, and Marquez and her team had to sit by silently and watch as their fellow Americans and eight Afghans were killed right in front of them.

She recalled one of the SEALS being catapulted from the helicopter and they watched via an infrared monitor as his life slipped from him.

“We had to sit and watch that, and I think that was one of the hardest things that I had to do,” she said. “That man was, you know, dying on the ground.”

“If we would’ve been allowed to engage that night, we would’ve taken out those two men immediately. I mean, it’s just one of those things where you know that it could’ve all been prevented,” she said with tears in her eyes.

According to Sara A. Carter:

The battlefield rules of engagement were tightened by Gen. Stanley McChrystal under President Obama in 2009, citing an “overreliance on firepower and force protection.” The idea was that this would reduce civilian casualties and win the cooperation of locals.

But Marquez said rules of when to engage the enemy, which continuously changed depending on who was in charge, prevented her crew from doing what they knew needed to be done.

“Ridiculous rules of engagement that basically state that you can’t shoot until being shot upon. A weapon has to be pointed, and essentially fired at you, in order for you to shoot and you have the proper clearance so that you don’t, you know, go to jail, that you’re charged with a war crime,” said Marquez, who had reached out to Congress, and some of the victims’ families.

Marquez’s claims are not only backed by her colleagues, but by family members of the lost SEALs.

In a February 2014 article, Billy and Karen Vaughn, parents of fallen Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn, wrote:

US soldiers in Afghanistan are now forced to fight a two-fronted war. Before each deployment, these soldiers understand fully that day after day they will do battle against relentless terrorists with shifting loyalties and unspeakable hatred. However, what none of them could have foreseen was the killing field that would open from their rear…the Continental United States.

Our government’s incessant tightening of already restrictive Rules of Engagement, compounded by the failed COIN (Counterinsurgency) strategy—also known as “winning hearts and minds,” has made an otherwise primitive enemy formidable.

Our best and brightest come home in body bags as politicians and lawyers dine over white linen tablecloths; writing, modifying, and re-modifying these lethal rules…rules that favor the enemy rather than the American soldier. Rules so absurd they’re difficult to believe until you hear the same stories over and again from those returning from battle.

In a delicate discussion with an Army Ranger who recently left the military, we heard the following: “I had to get out. I have a family who needs me. I didn’t join to be sacrificed. I joined to fight.” This decision came shortly after he lost a close friend to the Rules of Engagement. He went on to explain: the Taliban had attempted an ambush on his friend’s squad, but quickly realized they were in a battle they couldn’t win and began retreating. While chasing them, the US soldiers were ordered not to engage due to the slight chance the Taliban had laid down their arms as they ran through some type of shack. While arguing with leadership at the JOC (Joint Operations Center) his friend was shot and killed.

A Navy SEAL who left his job only a few years shy of full retirement said the following: “I got out because I couldn’t take it anymore. We tried to explain how much reckless danger we were being exposed to and they told us we were being illogical.”

This type of response has created a growing compromise of confidence between our war fighters and senior military leadership. His argument wasn’t illogical at all.

Last year, Tom Trento and his team at The United West, produced Fallen Angel: Cover-Up of Shoot-Down Seal Team Six in hopes to get the rules of engagement changed.

While I am one that opposes unconstitutional wars and wars of aggression that end up not only violating our Constitution, but needlessly endangering the lives of our men and women in uniform in experiences that are not part of national defense, I do believe that when America declares war, she should not be tying the hands of her military.

Rather, her military should be loosed in order to win, not “win hearts and minds.”

May we continue to seek the truth regarding Extortion 17 and may we also do what we can so that other members of our military are not put in these types of situations.

For more on Extortion 17, be sure and check out the following:

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