In an uncharacteristic and incredibly coincidental revelation, the US government acknowledged it attempted to rescue the subsequently beheaded American journalist James Foley. The government’s justification for acknowledging the raid is that it was about to be reported by several news organizations. Huh? Whatever happened to “neither can confirm nor deny”?
Instead of potentially vague report that some special ops raid was launched into Syria the New York Times reported government officials conducting a media conference call a day after ISIS posted a video of James Foley being beheaded, a “complicated operation” to rescue Foley. The defense department official went on to describe Task Force 160 helicopters delivering Delta Force commandos deep into Syria, engaging in a firefight at an initial suspected site, interrogating a terrorist on site, conducting a second air assault on a different site, engaging in intense firefight where numerous terrorists were killed and exfiltrating. One of the commandos a member of TF 160 was wounded during the operation. The operation found evidence that indicated it had missed the hostages by days.
The NYT further reported two anonymous Defense Department officials as being angered by the administration’s released details of the mission. “This only makes our job harder,” the DoD official said. “I’m very disappointed this was released. We knew any second operation would be a lot harder.”
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden, said the administration had “never intended to disclose this operation” but felt it was forced to by news media outlets preparing to report the story. “An overriding concern for the safety of the hostages and for operational security made it imperative that we preserve as much secrecy as possible.” Wait, how does exposing infiltration methods, sources of intelligence, enemy effectiveness at creating casualties and our intelligence was only days away from being accurate “preserve secrecy”?
The rest of the administration’s spin described “a long developing operation” involving a “layered procedure” to develop a detailed picture of where the hostages may be that, “never lost sight of the plight of these hostages.” During the conference call, officials said the administration kept the mission secret to “preserve future opportunities” to conduct another one.
I’m incredulous! There are still hostages out there! How does releasing this information enhance future opportunities to rescue them? It clearly doesn’t. So why release all the details? The president’s chief counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco said about the raid, “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.”
Let me describe the reasoning and impact of the above political posturing. A day after the horrific video depicting James Foley’s beheading the administration, fearful of being called to account for its abysmal record in foreign policy attempted to pre-empt the furor by releasing operational details of a secret op putting our servicemen at greater risk in the future and making it more difficult to conduct future successful hostage rescues. While Americans are appropriately marveling at the competence, bravery and daring of our armed forces most of us are distracted as to the damage done the same service members who aren’t doing what they do to be worshipped for it. The administration is counting on Americans predictable pride in their armed forces to distract from asking, “How did we ever get in the situation we find ourselves and what’s the plan to improve the situation?”
The cherry on top of the whole sordid affair is officials had the gall to say, “The United States government, as a matter of longstanding policy, does not grant concessions to hostage takers,” one senior administration official said. “Doing so would only put more Americans at risk of being taken captive.”
I guess they think we’ve already forgotten the name Bergdahl…