Trump White House Tried to Play Down US Injuries in Iranian Missile Strike, Says Ex-Official
Donald Trump’s White House asked the Pentagon to play down and delay reports of brain injuries suffered by US troops from an Iranian missile attack on Iraq last year, according to a former defense spokeswoman.
Alyssa Farah said she fended off the pressure from the White House, which came after Trump had first claimed there had been no casualties and then dismissed the injuries as “headaches” and “not very serious”.
More than 100 US troops were ultimately diagnosed as having suffered traumatic brain injuries in the missile attack on two bases in Iraq housing US troops on 8 January 2020, launched by Tehran in retaliation for the US drone killing of Revolutionary Guard general Qassem Suleimani five days earlier.
Roughly 80% of the American casualties from the missile attack were able to return to duty within days, but dozens had to be evacuated to Germany and then the US for treatment.
Farah described the attack as the “heaviest several hours of my life” in an interview with a new podcast, One Decision, hosted by former CNN journalist Michelle Kosinski and the former head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency, Sir Richard Dearlove.
Farah, who went on to work in the White House, said that when Trump claimed there had been no casualties in the wake of the attack it was “true at the time that we gave those facts to the president”.
But she added: “I think where things got shaky was there was an effort from the White House to want to say, this was not successful – the Iranians were not successful in harming our targets in response. And I think that went too far.
“And I think that it ended up glossing over what ended up being very significant injuries on US troops after the fact,” Farah told the podcast, due to air on Thursday.
She said it was Pentagon policy to release the facts as they arrived and were verified, and as a result the total reported number of casualties climbed throughout January 2020, irritating the White House.
“We did get pushback from the White House of, ‘Can you guys report this differently? Can it be every 10 days or two weeks, or we do a wrap-up after the fact?’” Farah said. “The White House would prefer if we did not give regular updates on it. It was this drip, drip of quote unquote bad news.”
Farah said she did not give in to the pressure, saying: “My feeling was, if my experience had taught me anything, transparency is always going to be your best friend in that field.”
Source: The Guardian