Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

"The action that was taken in Yemen was a huge success," Spicer said. "Any suggestion otherwise is a disservice to [Owens'] courageous life and the actions he took, full stop." (Photo: Reuters)

Sean Spicer: Anyone—and He Means "Anyone"—Who Criticizes Yemen Raid Owes Apology to Dead U.S. Soldier

"That's my message to anybody who says that, anybody," Spicer said. "I don't know how much clearer I can be"

Nadia Prupis

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday said anyone questioning the success of a U.S. military raid in Yemen last month, which resulted in dozens of deaths, is doing "a disservice" to the American soldier who was killed in the operation.

Spicer's comments came just after Yemen reportedly withdrew permission for the U.S. to conduct ground operations in the country in response to the botched raid.

Criticism of the operation has been widespread. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who chairs the Armed Services Committee, told NBC News, "When you lose a $75 million airplane and, more importantly, an American life is lost...I don't believe you can call it a success."

During Spicer's daily briefing on Wednesday—where he has been known to make Orwellian comments on recent events—NBC News' White House correspondent Kristen Welker asked, "Yemen has withdrawn permission for the United States to run special operations and ground missions against suspected terrorists in the wake of the recent raid there that claimed so many civilian lives. Do you stand by your assessment that it is a success?"

"It's absolutely a success, and I think anyone that would suggest it's not a success does a disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens," Spicer said.

"But even Senator John McCain—" Welker began.

"I understand that. I think my statement's very clear on that, Kristen," Spicer said. "I think anybody who undermines the success of that raid owes an apology and... [it's] a disservice to the life of Chief Owens."

Watch the exchange below:

Owens, 36, was killed in a firefight on January 28 during an operation authorized "without sufficient intelligence, ground support, or adequate backup preparations" by President Donald Trump, as Reuters explained at the time. The raid also killed an eight-year-old girl and an unknown number of Yemeni civilians.

The Intercept journalists Glenn Greenwald and Dan Froomkin described the comments as "despicable" and "the single most repulsive and dangerous thing this moron has ever said," respectively.

"So you're saying that Senator John McCain owes him an apology?" Welker continued.

"I'm answering the question, please let me finish. The raid, the action that was taken in Yemen was a huge success," Spicer said. "American lives will be saved because of it. Future attacks will be prevented. The life of Chief Ryan Owens was done in service to this country and we owe him and his family a great debt for the information that we received during that raid. I think any suggestion otherwise is a disservice to his courageous life and the actions he took, full stop."

"Is that your message to Senator John McCain?" Welker said. "He's called it a failure."

"That's my message to anybody who says that, anybody," Spicer said. "I don't know how much clearer I can be."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

'I Think He Should Resign': Biden Joins Chorus of Demands for Cuomo to Step Down

Calls for the New York Democratic governor's ouster are growing after an investigation found that he sexually harassed multiple women in violation of state and federal law.

Jessica Corbett ·


Cori Bush, Progressive Lawmakers and Activists Hailed for New CDC Eviction Moratorium

"I think the message here today is clear," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "It's that everyday people can make a change. We can always demand better."

Brett Wilkins ·


As Biden Touts 110+ Million Vaccine Donations to the World, US Urged to Go Much Further

"The president has said that the U.S. will serve as a vaccine arsenal for the world," said one campaigner. "Ten thousand people die each day waiting for ambitious action to match this vision."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Give the Money Back,' Demands Tlaib After Revelation of $1 Million Donation to House Dems From Real Estate Titan

The seven-figure contribution to the House Majority PAC came weeks before Congress let the federal eviction moratorium expire.

Brett Wilkins ·


NYC to Become First US City to Mandate Proof of Vaccination for Certain Indoor Activities

New Yorkers will need to show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, gyms, and theaters starting next month.

Julia Conley ·