Armed Services Chair Urges Leak Investigation Around Failed U.S. Rescue Mission

Armed Services Chair Urges Leak Investigation Around Failed U.S. Rescue Mission
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The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is calling for an investigation to determine the source of a leak that led to the disclosure of a failed U.S. mission to rescue American captives in Syria, including journalist James Foley.

In a statement released Thursday, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon said the disclosure of the mission could put American lives at risk in the future.

“Successful or not, such operations are incredibly sensitive, even after they have concluded.  Disclosure of these missions puts our troops at risk, reduces the likelihood that future missions will succeed, and risks the lives of hostages and informants alike,” the chairman said.

Accordingly, McKeon urged an immediate investigation. “Secretary Hagel should investigate this matter immediately and thoroughly to determine who, if anyone, at the Department of Defense was the source of this damaging leak,” said the California Republican. “Likewise, the heads of the other agencies involved should take similar steps.”

On Wednesday, administration officials disclosed that President Obama had authorized U.S. special operations earlier this summer to carry out a mission to rescue American hostages held by Islamic State terrorists. Several dozen special operations forces supported from the air by fixed wing, rotary and surveillance aircraft landed at a location inside Syria and engaged in a firefight with ISIS militants before departing, killing several terrorists. But the American hostages were not at the location.  

James Foley, a journalist for the U.S.-based publication Global Post, was believed to be among the hostages. This week, ISIS released a video in which Foley was beheaded, and the militant group threatened the United States with further violence if its airstrikes in Iraq did not cease.

The White House said it went public with the mission because a number of media outlets were planning to report on it, suggesting the information had been the subject of a leak. Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said the administration “would have no choice but to acknowledge it.”

Still, McKeon said he believed it was unwise for the White House and the Defense Department to have formally acknowledged the operation. 

Dustin Walker is the Editor of RealClearDefense.

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