The Daily Beast is reporting that British intelligence told the Obama administration where American hostages were being held in Syria, but that the administration did not trust the information and dithered. By the time they launched a raid to recover the hostages they had been moved.
To my knowledge the story has not been widely reported in the media, so here is an introduction. As you know, the Daily Beast is not part of the vast right wing conspiracy. The rest is well worth a read.
Jamie Dettmer and Shane Harris report:
The U.S. government obtained intelligence on the possible location of American captives held by ISIS in Syria last year, but Obama administration officials waited nearly a month to launch a rescue mission because of concerns that the intelligence wasn’t conclusive and some of it had come from a foreign service, U.S. and British officials told The Daily Beast.
British officials, as well as private security contractors, said they were frustrated by Washington’s hesitance to give the go-ahead for a rescue attempt, which eventually was carried out on July 4, 2014, by which time the hostages had been moved. The following month, ISIS began beheading its American and British prisoners in a series of grisly Internet videos.
Toward the end of May, the British government had identified two or three locations in and around the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the so-called Islamic State, where the militants had moved hostages during the previous weeks and months. But the British were not absolutely sure in which location the Westerners were held. The captives included American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well aid worker Kayla Mueller. The information—based on debriefings of European captives who had been released, satellite and drone surveillance, and electronic eavesdropping—was not definitive in May.
Then, in early June, London had a “positive identification and that information was shared with Washington,” said a British source. The delay of nearly a month before the rescue bid was mounted remains a source of bewilderment for British officials.
But a U.S. official said that inside the White House, Obama’s senior national-security advisers were not willing to base a raid on intelligence developed by a foreign service. “The issue was that they didn’t trust it, and they wanted to develop and mature the intelligence, because it wasn’t our own,” said the U.S. official, who asked to remain anonymous when discussing sensitive hostage-rescue efforts.
“They got the information. They just didn’t trust it. And they did sit on it, there’s no doubt about that,” the official said.
If this is true, the Obama administration dithered. Obviously, its spokespeople have insisted that they did everything in their power to free the hostages. Given the new information, the families of the victims are even less persuaded than they were before.