The White House has rejected a recent report that claims president Obama took as long as a month to initiate a rescue mission into Syria to attempt to save James Foley, the American journalist recently beheaded by a member of the Islamic State.
One week ago, The Sunday Times reported that president Obama waited around for almost a month before giving his consent for a Special Forces rescue mission to free western hostages, including recently-slain journalist James Foley. He and several other American hostages had been taken captive in Syria.
The attempt to rescue Foley, which took place sometime earlier in the summer, ended in failure when no hostages were found at the location where they were supposedly present. Although U.S. Special Forces fought their way through heavy fire and extreme danger to accomplish their mission, they ended up with nothing to show for their valiant effort.
Anthony Shaffer, a former clandestine operations officer in the military, told The Sunday Times: “I’m told it was almost a 30-day delay from when they said they wanted to go to when they finally gave the green light. They were ready to go in June to grab the guy [Foley] and they weren’t permitted.
An intelligence official commented on the botched rescue operation in late August: “Intelligence is not a perfect science. The truth is, we don’t know. And that’s the truth. When we got there, they weren’t there. We don’t know why that is.”
After news broke of the failed rescue attempt, president Obama’s top Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco commented on the operation. Monaco claimed that as the “opportunity presented itself,” president Obama immediately took action, contradicting the Sunday Times report. Monaco said:
The U.S. government had what we believed was sufficient intelligence, and when the opportunity presented itself, the President authorized the Department of Defense to move aggressively to recover our citizens. Unfortunately that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present. Given the need to protect our military’s operational capabilities, we will not be able to reveal the details of this operation. But the President could not be prouder of the U.S. forces who carried out this mission and the dedicated intelligence and diplomatic professionals who supported their efforts. Their effort should serve as another signal to those who would do us harm that the United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will spare no effort to secure the safety of our citizens and to hold their captors accountable.