The Pentagon has identified the Navy SEAL killed in last Saturday's raid on a militant compound in Yemen as Chief Special Warfare Operator William "Ryan" Owens, 36. Between three and six other U.S. personnel were injured in the chaotic raid. President Trump, who authorized the intelligence-gathering mission, has called Owens' family and expressed his condolences; it's the first U.S. combat fatality of Trump's term. Also killed in the raid were al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) senior leader Abdulraoof al-Dhahab and at least 13 other militants. Yemeni officials say at least 10 women and children were also killed, including the 8-year-old daughter of U.S.-born AQAP leader Anwar al-Awlaki, himself slain in a 2011 drone strike.
Things started going wrong for U.S. forces immediately, The Washington Post reported Tuesday night. They encountered fierce resistance as soon as they landed in the village of Taklaa, outside a heavily guarded AQAP compound. Officials called in backup, and helicopter gunships and Harrier jets struck the compound, before a Special Ops team arrived to evacuate the U.S. commandos and their wounded. Owens died from his injuries after being pulled out, The Post says. In the evacuation, one of the MV-22 Osprey helicopters lost power and landed hard, wounding two service members; a U.S. missile destroyed the Osprey so it wouldn't fall into enemy hands. Sources tell ABC's Martha Raddatz that AQAP seemed to know the Americans were coming:
The mission was to detain Yemeni tribal leaders working with AQAP, one of the most aggressive al Qaeda branches, and to gather intelligence to help prevent terrorist attacks. The U.S. hadn't launched any ground raids in Yemen since late 2014, before a Saudi-led Arab coalition started attacking Houthi rebels, with limited U.S. support. The fighting withered U.S. intelligence-gathering on AQAP, and a small Special Ops outpost was established on coastal Yemen last year, with United Arab Emirates troops, to start filling the counterintelligence hole, The Post reports.
Planning for the Yemen raid began in the final weeks of the Obama administration, and a former senior defense official said to expect more such raids in the future. "We really struggled with getting the White House comfortable with getting boots on the ground in Yemen,” the former official told The Washington Post. "Since the new administration has come in, the approvals [at the Pentagon] appear to have gone up." Trump called the raid a success, citing the slain militants and seized intelligence. Peter Weber
After sweeping the Golden Globes, La La Land is the heavy favorite for Best Picture — not to mention its 13 other nominations, the most for any film this year — at Sunday's 2017 Academy Awards ceremony. Still, there are seven other Best Picture nominees, and an intriguing analysis by The New York Times finds their support is far from uniform across the United States.
The rationale behind some of the movies' geographic popularity — which the Times mapped using location data on each film's Facebook likes — is more obvious than others. For example, Hidden Figures, which tells the true story of black women's oft-ignored contributions to the space race, was most popular in the Black Belt region of the South, which has a large African-American population. Likewise, Hacksaw Ridge, another true story, was a big hit in the Appalachian area from which its main character hails.
Other connections aren't so simple. For example, Arrival, a science-fiction film about alien contact, was popular in Maine, which the Times notes "has a lot of U.F.O. sightings."
President Trump took to Twitter Saturday morning to reiterate his disdain for the media and suggest a gathering of his own supporters would be the "biggest [rally] of them all," after which he turned to economic matters.
The media has not reported that the National Debt in my first month went down by $12 billion vs a $200 billion increase in Obama first mo.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
Great optimism for future of U.S. business, AND JOBS, with the DOW having an 11th straight record close. Big tax & regulation cuts coming!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2017
Trump's tweet about the debt appears to reference the U.S. Treasury's daily history of the national debt. The debt presently sits at nearly $20 trillion, of which the $12 billion for which Trump takes credit is 0.06 percent.
As The Hill notes, the national debt spiked in February of 2009 mostly because the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus bill, which cost $831 billion and remains controversial eight years later. Both President George W. Bush and President Obama doubled the national debt during their time in office, from about $5.6 to $9.9 trillion and $9.9 to $19.9 trillion, respectively.
Scheduled back-channel conversations between representatives of the United States and North Korea have been canceled, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, as the State Department retracted visa approval for the ranking foreign ministry envoy from Pyongyang, Choe Son Hui.
The reason for the visa withdrawal is unknown, though it may be tied to North Korea's ballistic missile test earlier this month. "The U.S government had no plans to engage in track 2 talks in New York," said a State Department representative who would not comment on the specifics of the visa revocation.
The talks were due to take place March 1 and 2 in New York City and were reportedly arranged at North Korea's instigation after President Trump's election. This would have been the first meeting between the two nations on U.S. soil in about six years. Bonnie Kristian
A security breech dubbed "CloudBleed" because of its link to cybersecurity company Cloudflare compromised some 3,400 websites, including popular services like Uber, FitBit, and OKCupid. News of the bug broke Thursday and Friday after it was discovered by a Google researcher named Tavis Ormandy, and users are encouraged to change their passwords on affected sites even though the problem has now been fixed.
Ormandy's report indicated he was able to find "private messages from major dating sites, full messages from a well-known chat service, online password manager data, frames from adult video sites, hotel bookings," though Cloudflare says it has "not discovered any evidence of malicious exploits of the bug or other reports of its existence."
For now, most potentially affected "users are probably fine," explained Adam Clark Estes at Gizmodo Saturday. "Then again," he adds, "Cloudbleed illustrates a larger problem with internet security. If one major player gets pwned, the consequences can be catastrophic." Bonnie Kristian
Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of legendary boxing champion Muhammad Ali, was detained by immigration agents on Feb. 7 at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, his family reported Friday. Ali Jr. was traveling with his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, on his way home from speaking at a Black History Month event in Jamaica.
The family's lawyer, Chris Mancini, said both were pulled aside by immigration officials asking questions like, "Where did you get your name from?" and "Are you Muslim?" Ali Jr. was held and questioned for two hours.
The 447 members of the Democratic National Committee will meet in Atlanta on Saturday to choose a new DNC chair, an important step of self-definition for a party seeking new direction after its unexpected loss of the White House in November. "This is going to end up being unity weekend in the city of Atlanta and unity weekend in the state of Georgia and unity weekend in the Democratic Party," said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, a Democrat. "It's going to be the end of that presidency of Donald Trump."
Seven candidates are in contention for the position, but the two favorites are Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who is backed by progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who has the support of Former Vice President Joe Biden as well as other high-ranking officials from the erstwhile Obama administration and Hillary Clinton campaign.
The previous DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, resigned in 2016 after leaked emails suggested she inappropriately favored Clinton over Sanders in the Democratic primaries. Donna Brazile stepped in as an interim chair in July. Bonnie Kristian
A fake-news site is giving progressives a chance to visit an alternative reality in which Hillary Clinton won the election. HillaryBeatTrump.org features headlines such as "Confused by fake news, Redditers think Trump is President" and "Approval ratings for President Clinton hit 89%." The site promises to deliver "news from real America," where the "majority rules."