The ACLU Just Sued Trump Over a Raid That Killed an 8-Year-Old Girl

May 8th 2017

Ethan Simon

Hoping to clarify some of the inconsistencies in the U.S. military's account of a deadly raid in Yemen, the American Civil Liberties Union on Monday sued the Trump administration, demanding it release more information about the raid.

The raid left several civilians dead, including an 8-year-old U.S. citizen, Nawar Anwar al-Awlaki, as ATTN: reported in January. The raid took place just eight days after President Donald Trump assumed office and was aimed at an al-Qaeda compound. Chief Special Warfare Operator William "Ryan" Owens was killed in the operation, the first military casualty of Trump's presidency. 

Donald Trump

According to the ACLU, many details about the raid — along with its purpose and the planning that went into it — were not provided to the American people. That's despite the fact that the group filed several Freedom of Information Act requests  for more information.

According to ABC News, "The ACLU said more information is needed, in part, because of conflicting facts that emerged after the raid. The ACLU said the military has claimed between four and 12 civilians were killed, while others, including a human rights organization and independent journalists, say as many as 25 died. The raid also resulted in the deaths of over a half dozen militant suspects.... It said the raid's outcome and the conclusions of subsequent investigations have 'raised serious concerns about the legal and factual basis for the raid.'"

The raid was called a "success" by the Trump administration.

Trump declared the raid a "winning mission," accusing Senator John McCain — who called the Yemen raid a "failure" — of having forgotten how to win. 

In addition to the Navy SEAL, that Yemen raid also killed 23 civilians and resulted in the loss of a $90 million aircraft. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to pin the blame on President Obama, noting the raid had been planned during his time in office, but of course the raid wasn't ordered to be carried out until Trump was in power.

Navy SEAL Training

The ACLU thinks the American people deserve to know more, especially because the raid resulted in the deaths of two US Citizens. Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project, told ABC News, "We have seen that this White House cannot be trusted to give the public accurate information, which is especially critical when the president authorizes military action that kills civilians."

And there's some cause for concern. Under Trump, civilian casualties have increased dramatically.


Since taking office, Trump has dramatically escalated U.S. airstrikes in Yemen and dropped hundreds of bombs in Iraq and Syria, killing dozens of civilians amid reports his administration is seeking to lift restrictions on the use of military force aimed at protecting non-combatants. As Newsweek reported, "U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria may have already killed 1,484 civilians in just Iraq and Syria [in March 2017] alone, more than three times the number killed in President Barack Obama’s final full month in office," based on data from the monitoring group Airwars.