President Obama has a dishonorable history of delaying military operations, particularly raids to rescue hostages. Commonly he delays them because of his default reluctance to use military force, or because he fears political fallout, and/or until a date when a successful rescue would be politically advantageous. When the raids fail, we normally hear little or nothing of them. When they succeed, Mr. Obama basks in the risk and sacrifice of far better men, claiming credit for their professionalism and courage. Such was the case with the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, repeatedly delayed for political reasons.
As we are just starting to learn, the same was done in the case of Kayla Mueller, the 26-year old American from Arizona kidnapped in Syria and murdered by ISIS. Mueller was well-intentioned, an aid worker who traveled to Syria trying to make a difference. Of course, any American that travels to Islamic-dominated combat zones is putting an enormous target on their back, regardless of their intentions. Their sensibilities, however genuinely noble they might be, put innumerable other Americans at risk.
Unfortunately, any American taken hostage must understand that President Obama will not, in fact, do whatever is necessary to rescue them, but will dither, bargain, and base any decision to make a rescue on ego and political, rather than tactical, concerns. In essence, they’re on their own, as the details of Mueller’s case begin to leak out:
The nightmare started in the summer of 2013, when Kayla Mueller and her boyfriend were forced off the road and kidnapped by the Islamic State.
While her boyfriend was eventually released, the 26-year-old aid worker spent the next several months shuttling between holding cells – a children’s hospital in Aleppo, an industrial area near the Turkish border, and the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.
Despite attempts to rescue her, including a failed U.S. raid last year, the Arizona resident – who was beloved by her family and friends and now has become a symbol of American sacrifice for the people of Syria – was killed.
Fox News first learned details about Mueller’s capture and captivity last fall, and, at the request of U.S. officials who cited national security concerns in ongoing efforts to secure her release, agreed to hold off on reporting them. A similar request was made by a spokeswoman for the family and agreed to by Fox.
Following the confirmation Tuesday of Mueller’s death, Fox News can now report those details, though some specifics are still deemed too sensitive for publication.
There are legitimate security concerns in such cases, but unquestionably, the Obama Administration didn’t want anyone to know of Mueller’s captivity to avoid the political fallout. One can’t allow anything to make the Dear Leader look bad.
Between September 2013 and May 2014, the hostages were moved between Aleppo, an industrial area near the Turkish border, and Raqqa.The source said Kayla’s ISIS captors were so confident in their self-described capital of Raqqa that there was limited visible security. The Western hostages were often held in groups and by May had been in the same location for at least two weeks.
This is highly unusual because the practice is to move hostages on a regular basis to obfuscate their location.
In Raqqa itself, the male and female hostages were held in close proximity, but separated by gender. The source said Mueller was able to get a message to at least one of the Western male hostages — at the time American James Foley was held in the group — that was she was not being mistreated by her captors. Mueller made the same statement in a 2014 letter released Tuesday by her family.
Such things must always be taken with a grain of salt. Islamists are not known for respect for the laws of war or for freedom of speech for those they take hostage.
By late May, specific intelligence had emerged on the hostage’s likely location — including a building, sources say.The intelligence was described to Fox News as ‘strong,’ ‘specific’ and ‘perishable’ — but the White House did not sign off on the rescue operation until much later.
The mission was launched over the July 4 weekend.
This is the most significant clue to what happened. President Obama and his advisors, Valerie Jarrett foremost among them, as always, delayed any rescue attempt until the Fourth of July, hoping for a political boost if the rescue were successful. Surely, Mr. Obama would have held a press conference announcing what he did—oh yes, and some soldiers were involved somehow—and how he had reunited the hostage with her family and how grateful the nation should be for his inspired leadership. There would have been photo ops with the family, etc., the whole 9 Obama yards. And because burnishing Mr. Obama’s ego and political fortunes are of greatest importance, Kayla Mueller was condemned to death—and worse.
In an interview with Buzzfeed on Tuesday, President Obama also confirmed that Mueller was among the hostages the U.S. tried to rescue in what ultimately was a failed raid that summer.
He objected to the notion that the U.S. may not have done all it could to rescue her.
Yes. I’m sure he did. President Obama would never mislead the nation, would he?
Fox News asked the White House in November about the May timeline, and the apparent gap between the strong intelligence and the White House sign-off.
Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said at the time, ‘U.S. forces conducted this operation as soon as the president and his national security team were confident the mission could be carried out successfully and consistent with our policies for undertaking such operations.
Of course. Unfortunately, such policies have nothing to do with intelligence, tactics and the safety of American hostages and everything to do with making Barack Obama look like a manly anti-terror warrior. Here’s the understatement of the week:
The May timeline nevertheless conflicts with administration claims that the White House signed off on the operation as soon as the intelligence allowed.
‘The intelligence is never bulletproof,’ a former military official said. ‘When [the rescue team] finally did go, the general view was that the intelligence was drying up. … These guys were ready to go, on a lower threshold [for the intelligence than the White House] … We want the American people to know we are there for them, and ready to go 24 hours a day.
Tragically, for hostages, their families and our military, that’s surely true: our military is ready to go and anxious to kill Islamist thugs and rescue American hostages. Our President, on the other hand… CBS News fills in other, profoundly disturbing, gaps in knowledge:
The U.S. intelligence community believes that American hostage Kayla Mueller was given as a bride to a fighter with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, during her captivity, CBS News has learned.
Translation: she was beaten, raped and tortured. Once that happened, she lost her PR value as a hostage, and/or her “husband” killed her in a rage. CBS notes Mueller was the fourth American killed by ISIS to date.
Mr. Obama told Buzzfeed News the effort to free U.S. hostages is relentless.
‘I deployed an entire operation — at significant risk — to rescue not only her but the other individuals that had been held and probably missed them by a day or two,’ Mr. Obama said.
Notice: “I deployed an entire operation—at significant risk…” For Barack Obama, it’s always all about him, and about the risks—entirely political—he takes. And of course he missed her. He knew where she was but a Fourth of July press conference was more important to him than Mueller’s life. As horrific and daunting as the risks Mr. Obama faced doubtless were, as it turns out, Kayla Mueller was in a bit more trouble.
Rep. Paul Gosar, whose district includes the Mueller family’s home, told The Arizona Republic that there were several failed attempts to rescue Mueller.
In one, a man pretending to be Mueller’s husband appeared at the Syrian terrorist camp where she was being held and demanded her release. But Mueller, unaware it was a rescue mission, denied she had a husband and unknowingly botched a chance at freedom.
This may have been an attempt by Mueller’s boyfriend who was earlier released, but there is no more specific information currently available. One thing is certain: Mueller didn’t die in a Jordanan air strike.
Intelligence agencies confirmed Mueller’s death after reviewing a photo ISIS sent the Mueller family. While U.S. officials could not determine the cause of death, they denied ISIS claims she was killed in a Jordanian airstrike.
‘Let’s not forget in whose hands this woman died,’ said Rear Adm. John Kirby, before referring to ISIS by ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ‘and let’s not forget who’s ultimately responsible for it: ISIL.
And let’s not forget who left Kayla Mueller to die at the hands of Islamist barbarians. There will be more. Mr. Obama has a pen and a phone and plenty of time.