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Retired officer: Foley rescue attempt failed because Obama 'dragged his feet'

Freelance reporter James Foley (L) on the highway between the airport and the West Gate of Sirte, Libya.
Freelance reporter James Foley (L) on the highway between the airport and the West Gate of Sirte, Libya.
Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this summer, U.S. Special Operations forces attempted to rescue Americans held by Islamic radicals. Among them was James Foley, the journalist beheaded by ISIS terrorists. According to Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a retired intelligence officer trained by the CIA, the operation failed because President Obama dragged his feet, the Washington Free Beacon reported Thursday.

Schaffer made the claim during an appearance on WMAL radio in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, The Free Beacon's Larry O'Connor said. The report says that Shaffer told O'Connor and co-host Brian Wilson that Obama was slow to give the go-ahead for the operation.

"I’m hearing from my friends in the Pentagon, they are giving him every single option way ahead of time," Schaffer said. "And let me give you a little secret here: The reason that raid into Syria failed to get Foley and those guys was because the president drug his feet. He waited too long, the intel got stale, and by the time we actually gave the 'go' word it failed because we just didn’t react quick enough."

According to officials, several dozen Special Operations forces took part in the raid. The force responded to small-arms fire from Islamic State radicals, killing several. One member of the team was reportedly shot and slightly injured. The hostages, however, weren't found and the team pulled out.

A post at Ace of Spades notes that the length of the delay is not not known. Nor, the blog added, is it known whether the operation was delayed due to weakness of the available intelligence.

The blog also says the report comes from "one guy repeating what he says he hears, second-hand, from 'friends.'" Nevertheless, the report seems to fit a pattern.

"Administration people cooperated with the scripting of Zero Dark Thirty and the whole middle section of that film dramatizes Obama's foot-dragging on the bin Ladin hit," Ace of Spades added. "The CIA agent who discovered bin Ladin's hiding place had to tell her superiors every day how much time had passed since the intelligence was obtained. 30 days, 60 days, 88 days, 120 days... after more than 120 days, the order was finally given."

According to Richard Miniter's book, ”Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors Who Decide for Him," Obama canceled the raid to kill bin Laden three times at the urging of Valerie Jarrett. Miniter said Obama canceled the raid in "January 2011, again in February, and a third time in March." When he finally gave the order in May, he reportedly waited 16 hours to do so.

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