WH pushes back on report Obama hesitated to rescue Foley

The White House is pushing back on a report that the military operation to rescue captured American journalist James Foley was delayed by President Obama's "hesitation."

U.S. forces conducted the rescue operation "as soon as the president" and his national security team "were confident it could be carried out successfully," according to a tweet sent Friday from the National Security Council's account.

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The comment was in response to a senior Pentagon official who reportedly confirmed to The Sunday Times of London that "hesitation" on the part of Obama delayed the July 4 operation to rescue Foley. 

Foley, who went missing in Syria in 2012, was executed by fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, who posted a video of his decapitation online earlier this month. U.S. officials confirmed the video's authenticity.

One day after the video was released, the administration disclosed that it had made an unsuccessful attempt over the summer to rescue Foley and other hostages held by ISIS in Syria.

"The President authorized action at this time because it was the national security team’s assessment that these hostages were in danger with each passing day in [ISIS] custody," Obama Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco said in a statement.

“The U.S. Government had what we believed was sufficient intelligence, and when the opportunity presented itself, the President authorized the Department of Defense to move aggressively to recover our citizens,” she added. “Unfortunately, that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called the operation "flawless," adding simply "the hostages were not there."

The Sunday Times reported earlier this week that Pentagon sources said Obama took too long to authorize the rescue because he was concerned about U.S. troops getting killed or captured.

On Friday, Obama's National Security Council called the allegations Obama hesitated "not true."