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IPFS News Link • WAR: About that War

The SEALS and the Dhhow

•, By Seymour Hersh

It was a mission that never should have been ordered, and when everything went wrong, it was covered up with a series of lies.

Why report a story about two deaths and an injury when there is a president who has put America indirectly into wars in Ukraine, Israel, Yemen, and elsewhere in the Middle East? I have learned in six decades of chasing down hidden stories that it is delving into the little lies that reveals much about the bigger lies. So it has been in the past month with the story of the dead and injured SEALs.

Their target was a wooden smuggling vessel, operated by Somalis, that was suspected of delivering modern ballistic missiles or missile parts to America's new enemy: the Houthis of Yemen. Somalis have been smuggling goods through the Red Sea and Indian Ocean in their wooden sailing vessels, known as dhows, since biblical times. Few have motors or any means of electronic communication, and the larger dhows, like the one targeted by the SEALs, often serve as living quarters for the smugglers' families.

The SEALs were assigned to a ship named the Lewis B. Puller, after a fabled combat general, the most decorated marine of all time, who fought in World War II against the Japanese, as well as in Haiti, in Central America, and in the Korean War. The ship, modeled on an oil tanker, is what the Navy calls an Expeditionary Mobile Base, which means that it is capable, with its landing decks, of supporting a vast number of air and sea military activities from all the services, including those of the Navy SEALs. The Puller was commissioned in 2017 in a port in Bahrain and was not much in the news until it became known that the failed SEAL mission took place.

On January 13, the New York Times, citing two current and two former Pentagon officials, published the first account of the two deaths, which were said to have taken place while the SEALs were attempting to board a dhow at night.