Foley rescue plan was ready, but Obama delayed authorization for 30 days
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I don’t think it would be fair to say that James Foley’s death is on Obama for this. Foley’s death is on ISIS, period.
But what is fair to say is that presidential leadership in situations like this has to be decisive. What’s coming out is that special forces had a plan at the ready to rescue Foley, based on actionable intelligence that they understood was subject to change in short order. If you’re the president, and rescuing this guy is your priority, then you can’t spend a month hemming and hawing because something might go wrong and you’re not prepared to stand up and explain that to people
But it will come as a surprise to no one that, sadly, that is exactly how the Obama Administration works:
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.”
There is something to be said for careful deliberation, and when a situation is not urgent and the way forward is not clear, it’s often the right approach to take. This was clearly not one of those situations. If the White House wanted Foley rescued, they had to give the go-ahead and they had to do so quickly and decisively. One of Obama’s tragic weaknesses as a leader is that he doesn’t seem to understand when you simply have to make a decision, based on the best information you have, because time is of the essence and you simply have no choice but to make a call and then live with your call.
As the source quoted in the story above shows, this White House appears entirely incapable of doing that. They are so impressed with their own intellect that they’re convinced the more they think about it, the smarter their decision will be. And Obama has suffered from the beginning under the delusion that somehow the world will bend itself to fit his preconceived notion of what it should be - bad actors included.
I still say that’s not what cost James Foley his life. ISIS is 100 percent responsible for that. But it sure would be nice if we had a president who understood how to make decisions in the face of such a threat. Maybe next time the voters get a chance they’ll take that consideration a little more seriously - and they won’t be fooled into thinking certain people are ready for that scenario just because they make empty claims to be.