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Obama's dithering doomed the attempt to rescue Foley

Obama's Golf War
Obama's Golf War
Photo by Pool/Getty Images

Toby Harnden, the Washington bureau chief of The Sunday Times, reports that Obama's dithering doomed the U.S. military's attempt to rescue James Foley:

It was shortly after midnight on the Fourth of July when the specially modified Black Hawk helicopters fitted with radar-evading equipment swooped down over Ukayrishah, a small town next to the Euphrates River, close to the northern Syrian city of Raqqa.

Flown by pilots from the US 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment — known as the “Night Stalkers” — the Black Hawks’ first job was to destroy a jihadist anti-aircraft battery three miles away. But their main role was to drop several dozen elite troops from Delta Force and SEAL Team 6, the unit that killed the al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, into the heart of territory controlled by Isis, or the Islamic State.

Syrian radar had been jammed and fighter jets were patrolling overhead as the commandos blocked access roads. The troops moved swiftly towards their objective: an abandoned oil refinery used as a military post and known as the Akershi base.

The CIA had concluded that the base contained a secret prison in which a number of western hostages were languishing.

James Foley, 40, an idealistic freelance journalist from New Hampshire who had once been kidnapped in Libya and held for 44 days, was thought to be among them.

When the commandos reached the base, scores of Isis fighters swarmed out. A US air force AC-130 gunship laid down a wall of fire, killing up to 15 of the jihadists.

According to locals, some of the commandos were wearing Jordanian insignia, perhaps to mask their nationality. They entered the buildings and found the prison. But the hostages were not there. The special forces troops had found what they term a “dry hole”.

The operation was reminiscent of the 1970 mission to free American prisoners of war from North Vietnam’s Son Tay prison camp. It was flawlessly executed but the North Vietnamese had moved the prisoners a day earlier.

For President Barack Obama the decision to send in the Night Stalkers was an agonising one.

[. . .]

Pentagon sources said Foley and the others might well have been rescued but Obama, concerned about the ramifications of US troops being killed or captured in Syria, took too long to authorise the mission.

Anthony Shaffer, a former lieutenant-colonel in US military intelligence who worked on covert operations, said: “I’m told it was almost a 30-day delay from when they said they wanted to go to when he finally gave the green light. They were ready to go in June to grab the guy [Foley] and they weren’t permitted.”

Another US defence source said: "The White House constantly goes back and forth on these things. These people are a bunch of academics who endlessly analyse stuff and ordering up another deep-thinking paper but can't decide what to order for lunch."

[Emphasis added]

My RedState colleagues, Jake and Streiff have covered the objections to the Obama regime's revelation about the failed rescue attempt here and here. And I wrote that Obama, was let the information become public so it might appear that he was doing something besides fund raising and golfing.

We have complained about Obama's dithering before. We took Obama to task twice for his indecisive dithering about whether to send more troops to Afghanistan to fight what he correctly called a "war of necessity." First, for golfing instead of making a decision. And then, after more than two months of dithering, for putting his decision off until after Thanksgiving.

We even started warning about Obama's perceived weakness two months into his presidency.

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