From NBC's Jim Miklaszewski
There's an email whipping around the internet, supposedly written by a Navy SEAL who complains that President Obama delayed decisions to deploy the Navy SEALs because he wanted to resolve the hostage standoff with Captain Richard Phillips "peacefully."
There's enough background detail in the email to suggest it was in fact written by a SEAL, but several senior military officials who were involved in the direct planning and execution of the mission -- including in consultations with the White House and President Obama -- tell NBC News the claims are bogus.
Here is part of the email:
Having spoken to some SEAL pals in Virginia Beach yesterday and asking why this thing dragged out for 4 days, I got the
1. BHO (President) wouldn't authorize the DEVGRU/NSWC SEAL teams to the
scene for 36 hours going against OSC (on scene commander)
2. Once they arrived, BHO imposed restrictions on their ROE (rules of
engagement) that they couldn't do anything unless the hostage's life was
in "imminent" danger
3. The first time the hostage jumped, the SEALS had the raggies all
sighted in, but could not fire due to ROE restriction
4. When the navy RIB came under fire as it approached with supplies, no
fire was returned due to ROE restrictions. As the raggies were shooting
at the RIB, they were exposed and the SEALS had them all dialed in.
5. BHO specifically denied two rescue plans developed by the Bainbridge
CPN and SEAL teams
6. Bainbridge CPN and SEAL team CDR finally decide they have the OpArea
and OSC authority to solely determine risk to hostage. 4 hours later, 3
7. BHO immediately claims credit for his "daring and decisive"
Two senior military officials who talked to NBC about this both said essentially they have no reason to carry President Obama's water on this, but that he and the White House responded quickly and positively to the military's request.
Given some of the details included in the email, military officials say it could very well have come from a "disgruntled" Navy SEAL who had no idea what the White House and senior commanders were planning or executing.
In addition, the email was originally passed around by a former admiral who retired in 1982 who told Navy officials he doesnt know any Navy SEALS and has no idea where the original email came from.
According to the officials the timeline of events and decisions were as follows:
Wednesday, April 8
The Maersk Alabama is hijacked by four Somali pirates. The U.S. destroyer Bainbridge, 300 miles away, heads in that direction. Military officials tell NBC News that officials with the Maersk shipping company informed the U.S. Navy they wanted no military intervention, they wanted to negotiate, pay a ransom and be on their way. Senior military officials informed the White House this would not require a military response but the Bainbridge continued in that direction.
Thursday, April 9
Bainbridge arrives in the vicinity of Maersk Alabama as the situation turned ugly and the four pirates took Captain Richards hostage in a lifeboat. The skipper aboard the Bainbridge realized he didn't have the "assets" necessary to handle a hostage situation and informed his superiors he needed the skills that Navy SEALS could bring to the fight.
Friday, April 10
Captain Phillips jumped into the sea in an attempt to escape his pirate captors, but the Bainbridge was a mile away from the lifeboat at the time and had no special operations forces in the water or the air that could have helped Phillips escape.
The nearest Navy SEAL team was on a training mission in Kenya. In military legalese, that SEAL team was considered an "EXTREMIS NATIONAL ASSET," which meant it would require presidential authority to pull the SEALS out of Kenya. Military officials went to the White House to brief national security officials and within "a couple of hours" President Obama signed off on the order to deploy the Navy SEALS, who were airdropped into the water and taken onto the Bainbridge
Friday night Somalia time: The President also gave the SEALS the authority to use "lethal force" to rescue Captain Philliips if it was determined his life was in "imminent danger."
By late Friday it was determined the specialized more advance skillsets of SEAL TEAM SIX, (the Navy's equivalent of DELTA FORCE), now known as the DEVELOPMENT GROUP were needed and planning began to deploy them from Little Creek, Virginia to the Indian Ocean.
At the same time, the hostage rescue operation was officially designated a "COUNTER-TERRORISM OPERATION," which allowed the White House and the military to cut through the usual red tape that exists in combining military and law enforcement operations.
The White House and military also laid out the three primary objectives of the mission:
1) try to negotiate for the peaceful release of hostage Captain Phillips.
2) keep the lifeboat from reaching the Somali shore.
3) use lethal force if the Captain's life is in imminent danger.
Saturday, April 11
The military sought and President Obama immediately granted the request and authority for SEAL TEAM SIX to use "lethal force" if it was determined Captain Phillips life was in danger. SEAL TEAM SIX was airdropped into the water at night and taken aboard the Bainbridge.
Sunday, April 12
At 7:19 pm Somalia time, three Navy snipers from SEAL TEAM SIX, lying prone on the fan-tail of the Bainbridge, fired three precision and simultaneous shots that instantly killed the three remaining pirates holding Captain Phillips hostage aboard the lifeboat.