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Navy SEALs’ Parents Sue Biden, Panetta Over Sons’ Deaths

Plaintiff Billy Vaughn
Billy Vaughn, the father of Navy SEAL Team 6 member Aaron Vaughn, speaks at the National Press Club about the Aug. 6, 2011 attack on the Navy SEALs' helicopter in Afghanistan. Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

June 27 (Bloomberg) -- Vice President Joe Biden and ex-U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were sued by the parents of Navy SEALs, who accused the officials of exposing their sons to retaliation by publicizing their unit’s role in the raid that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden.

The men were killed in an Aug. 6, 2011, attack on their helicopter, three months after the bin Laden raid, according to a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Washington. The parents, seeking more than $200 million in damages, accused Biden and Panetta of revealing the team’s involvement for political purposes before the 2012 presidential election.

“The hard reality is that Biden and Panetta are alive ‘feasting’ on their ‘political notoriety,” power and wealth, while the brave heroes who gave their lives for our nation’s security are dead, thanks to them!” Larry Klayman, an attorney for the family, said in a statement on the filing.

Thirty U.S. special forces, seven Afghan commandos and a civilian interpreter were among those killed when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down by the Taliban in the eastern province of Afghanistan. An official who spoke on condition of anonymity said at the time that none of those killed were from the SEAL team involved in the bin Laden raid.

The suit also names Iran, Afghanistan and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who allegedly tipped the Taliban off about the helicopter coordinates on the day of the attack.

SEALs’ Parents

The plaintiffs are Billy and Karen Vaughn, the parents of Aaron Vaughn; Charles and Mary Ann Strange, the parents of Michael Strange; Doug and Shaune Hamburger, the parents of Patrick Hamburger; and Sidh Douangdara, the father of John Douangdara.

A call to Biden’s press office seeking comment on the complaint wasn’t immediately returned. Panetta couldn’t immediately be reached for comment through his Panetta Institute for Public Policy.

The case is Vaughn v. Biden, 1:13-cv-00974, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington)

To contact the reporter on this story: Sophia Pearson in Philadelphia at spearson3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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