Review Category : Poltics

Hagel: Secret Mission to Get Hostages in Syria ‘Flawless’ — Except for the Rescue

Junko Kimura/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — A large contingent of American special operations forces was able to sneak into an ISIS camp near the terror group’s stronghold in Syria in search of American hostages, but quickly withdrew when it became clear that while 100 or so armed terrorists were there, the hostages weren’t, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the then-secret mission.

The official provided ABC News with new, dramatic details of the raid earlier this summer to grab Americans including journalist James Foley, a mission that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said on Thursday was “flawless” except that no one was rescued.

“Knowing their lives were clearly in danger, it’s the responsibility of our leaders, our government to take action when we believe there is a good possibility or chance of making the operation successful. This operation, by the way, was a flawless operation, but the hostages were not there,” Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters Thursday. “We regret that mission did not succeed but I am very proud, very proud of the U.S. forces that participated in it.”

The U.S. official familiar with the operation agreed that the mission, at least from a military perspective, was “magic.”

When the “unusually large” U.S. special mission unit — described by senior officials as “several dozen” warfighters — arrived at the location near Raqqah, Syria where they believed the hostages were being held, they had little time “on station” because of the distance they had to fly from their launch base.

A senior administration official claimed Wednesday that, “while on site it became apparent the hostages were not there.” But around 100 ISIS fighters were there, said the U.S. official familiar with the incident, and the American forces engaged in a fierce firefight. An Air Force AC-130 gunship came in overhead and put down fire on other ISIS fighters, keeping the bulk of the extremist force from the fight.

The Americans killed a number of ISIS fighters — at least 15, according to the U.S. official — before scrambling back to their helicopters and flying away.

The official said that some in the military and intelligence circles believe they missed the hostages by less than a week.

“It was magic,” the official told ABC News Thursday. “Everything went perfectly and [there were] no major injuries… But they saw it was a dry hole and left.”

Hagel declined to blame the incident on an intelligence failure.

“Was it a failure of intelligence? No. Intelligence doesn’t come wrapped in a package with a bow. It’s a mosaic of many pictures, of many factors, and the enemy always has a say,” Hagel said. “The underlying objective was to do everything we could to rescue these hostages, knowing that their lives were in danger, clearly in danger.”

Phil Balboni, CEO of GlobalPost, the news outlet for which James Foley was working when he was kidnapped in Syria in 2012, told ABC News Foley was “moved fairly often” while in captivity.

At Thursday’s press conference Hagel went on to discuss ISIS, the brutal Sunni extremist group that has swept across Iraq in recent months and murdered James Foley, calling the group an “imminent threat” and “beyond anything we’ve seen.”

“ISIL [ISIS] is as sophisticated and well-fund as any group we’ve seen. They’re beyond any terrorist group,” Hagel said, adding that ISIS presents a 9/11-level threat. “We must prepare for everything. The way to do that is you take a cold, steely, hard look at it and you get ready.”

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Calif. Attorney General Appeals Death Penalty Ruling

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — California’s top prosecutor is fighting back, arguing to keep the state’s death penalty in play after it was found to unconstitutional.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris says she will appeal a federal court ruling that struck down the death penalty. A federal judge ruled California’s death penalty is arbitrary and unfair.

Since the current system was adopted 35 years ago, 900 people have been sentenced to death, but only 13 have been executed.

Harris calls the court’s ruling flawed and says it requires appellate review.

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US Diplomats Can’t Participate in Ice Bucket Challenge

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — With the exception of the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand who didn’t realize the rules, you won’t see U.S. diplomats taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at Thursday’s briefing that taking part in the challenge violates the restrictions placed on high level U.S. government employees.

“Federal government ethics rules prevent us from using our public offices such as, high public officers such as ambassadors for private gain no matter how worthy the cause is and this is of course a worthy cause,” Harf said.

“For that reason high ranking state department officials are unfortunately unable to participate in the ice bucket challenge,” she noted.

Hard added that the State Department wishes the ALS Foundation success.

“Obviously it’s a very important cause,” she said.

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DEA to Unveil New Restrictions on Popular Painkillers

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will officially publish rules on Friday to tighten restrictions on the most common form of painkillers.

The stricter rules are for drugs containing hydrocodone, which is in many of the most widely-used painkillers, including Vicodin and Lortab.

Now with the goal of cutting down on abuse, the drugs are being put into a tougher, more restrictive category. Patients will be limited to one 90-day supply and then will have to see a medical professional to get a refill.

Additionally, in many states, prescribing authority will be limited to doctors only and not nurses or physicians assistants any longer.

The new rules will take effect in about about a month and a half.

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‘Savages’ Who Executed Foley Will Be Nabbed, FBI Chief Vows

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) — FBI director James Comey said Wednesday that the “full force” of the U.S. government will come to bear on the “savages” responsible for the kidnapping and gruesome murder of journalist James Foley.

“I’m very, very, sorry to say that these savages have turned it into a homicide investigation,” Comey said, speaking to reporters in Denver.

“So we’ll stay on it. We’ll work with our law enforcement, our intelligence and our military partners to try to bring justice to the Foley family and bring the full force of the United States to bear on these savages,” he said.

Foley was on assignment in Syria for the GlobalPost news outlet when he was kidnapped in November 2012.

Comey said he is concerned that the masked executioner seen in a video clip carrying out Foley’s murder speaks with a British accent, one of “thousands” of westerners Comey says have joined terror groups like ISIS.

“These people may have western passports. That’s a concern to Europe,” Comey said, adding, “it’s just a hop across The Pond to the United States.”

Comey said he has met with Foley’s family and says he is confident his killers will eventually face justice.

“We are very, very patient and dogged people,” said Comey. “We will never forget.”

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Attorney General Eric Holder in Ferguson Recalls Being ‘Angry’ After Police Encounters

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(FERGUSON, Mo.) — Attorney General Eric Holder went to the strife torn town of Ferguson on Wednesday where he met with the family of slain teenager Michael Brown and talked about his own run-ins with police that left him “angry and upset.”

The nation’s top law enforcement official, who is the first African-American named to the post, said he hoped his presence and interest in the case would have a, “calming influence on the area.”

Ferguson has been roiled by angry protests, rock and bottle throwing and some looting since Brown, 18, was shot and killed by Police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. Brown was African-American and Wilson is white.

Holder told people in Ferguson that he understood their mistrust of police.

“I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man,” Holder said. “I’ve confronted this myself.”

The AG recalled being stopped by police on the way to a movie in Georgetown, a well-to-do suburb of Washington, DC.

“Police car comes driving up, flashes his lights, yells, ‘Where you going? Hold it,’” Holder told residents. “Now my cousin started mouthing off. I’m like, ‘This is not where we want to go. Keep quiet.’”

“At the time that [the police officer] stopped me, I was a federal prosecutor. I wasn’t a kid. I was a federal prosecutor. I worked at the United States Department of Justice,” he said. Holder said the encounter left him “angry and upset.”

The attorney general also described having his car searched during routine traffic stops on the New Jersey Turnpike.

“I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was,” he said.

Holder, who also met with local FBI agents and justice department personnel, promised a “thorough” federal investigation.

“My hope is that will give people some degree of confidence,” he said.

The AG congratulated Missouri Highway Police Capt. Ron Johnson, who was called in to take charge of policing in Ferguson.

“My man, you are the man,” Holder told Johnson. “You’re making a real difference.”

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US Military Launched Secret Rescue Operation for James Foley, Other Americans

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — U.S. special operations forces early this summer launched a secret, major rescue operation in Syria to save James Foley and a number of Americans held by the extremist group ISIS, but the mission failed because the hostages weren’t there, senior administration officials told ABC News Wednesday.

President Obama authorized the “substantial and complex” rescue operation after the officials said a “broad collection of intelligence” led the U.S. to believe the hostages were being held in a specific location in the embattled Middle Eastern nation.

When “several dozen” U.S. special operation members landed in Syria, however, they were met with gunfire and “while on site, it became apparent the hostages were not there,” one of the officials said.

The special operators engaged in a firefight in which ISIS suffered “a good number” casualties, the official said, while the American forces suffered only a single minor injury. The American forces were able to get back on helicopters and escape.

“Intelligence is not a perfect science,” the senior official said. As to how the intelligence failed and why the hostages were not there, the official said, “The truth is, we don’t know. And that’s the truth. When we got there, they weren’t there. We don’t know why that is.”

Much about the daring mission itself remains a secret — officials said they did not want to reveal too much about the rescue attempt for fear of spoiling future efforts.

“It was conducted, but was not ultimately successful,” a senior U.S. official told ABC News.

The operation was what senior government officials described as a major undertaking — involving special operations forces from multiple branches of the military, helicopters, fixed-wing airplanes, and surveillance aircraft.

A video showing the brutal murder of James Foley apparently at the hands of an ISIS fighter appeared online Tuesday.

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US Military Launched Secret Rescue Operation for James Foley, Other Americans

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — U.S. special operations forces early this summer launched a secret, major rescue operation in Syria to save James Foley and a number of Americans held by the extremist group ISIS, but the mission failed because the hostages weren’t there, senior administration officials told ABC News Wednesday.

President Obama authorized the “substantial and complex” rescue operation after the officials said a “broad collection of intelligence” led the U.S. to believe the hostages were being held in a specific location in the embattled Middle Eastern nation.

When “several dozen” U.S. special operation members landed in Syria, however, they were met with gunfire and “while on site, it became apparent the hostages were not there,” one of the officials said.

The special operators engaged in a firefight in which ISIS suffered “a good number” casualties, the official said, while the American forces suffered only a single minor injury. The American forces were able to get back on helicopters and escape.

“Intelligence is not a perfect science,” the senior official said. As to how the intelligence failed and why the hostages were not there, the official said, “The truth is, we don’t know. And that’s the truth. When we got there, they weren’t there. We don’t know why that is.”

Much about the daring mission itself remains a secret — officials said they did not want to reveal too much about the rescue attempt for fear of spoiling future efforts.

“It was conducted, but was not ultimately successful,” a senior U.S. official told ABC News.

The operation was what senior government officials described as a major undertaking — involving special operations forces from multiple branches of the military, helicopters, fixed-wing airplanes, and surveillance aircraft.

A video showing the brutal murder of James Foley apparently at the hands of an ISIS fighter appeared online Tuesday.

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Kerry Condemns Murder of James Foley, Says ISIS Must Be Destroyed

Credit: US Department of State(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the murder of American James Foley at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, video of which was posted online Tuesday, heartbreaking and unfair.

In a statement released Wednesday, Kerry recalled that in 2012, Foley was captured while on assignment in Syria. Kerry was a senator at that time and had the opportunity to meet Foley’s family. “The sheer unfairness and unlikely odds that this young journalist would again find himself in captivity in another conflict was almost unimaginable,” Kerry said.

“There is evil in this world,” Kerry said in light of Tuesday’s video, “and we all have come face to face with it once again.” Also on Wednesday, Kerry tweeted strong words for ISIS.

ISIL must be destroyed/will be crushed.

— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) August 20, 2014

“The world must know that the United States of America will never back down in the face of such evil,” Kerry said in a statement. “[ISIS] and the wickedness it represents must be destroyed, and those responsible for this heinous, vicious atrocity will be held accountable.”

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Kerry Condemns Murder of James Foley, Says ISIS Must Be Destroyed

Credit: US Department of State(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the murder of American James Foley at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, video of which was posted online Tuesday, heartbreaking and unfair.

In a statement released Wednesday, Kerry recalled that in 2012, Foley was captured while on assignment in Syria. Kerry was a senator at that time and had the opportunity to meet Foley’s family. “The sheer unfairness and unlikely odds that this young journalist would again find himself in captivity in another conflict was almost unimaginable,” Kerry said.

“There is evil in this world,” Kerry said in light of Tuesday’s video, “and we all have come face to face with it once again.” Also on Wednesday, Kerry tweeted strong words for ISIS.

ISIL must be destroyed/will be crushed.

— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) August 20, 2014

“The world must know that the United States of America will never back down in the face of such evil,” Kerry said in a statement. “[ISIS] and the wickedness it represents must be destroyed, and those responsible for this heinous, vicious atrocity will be held accountable.”

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