McCain: White House disclosed rescue attempt to 'help their PR'

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) suggested Thursday that the White House disclosed the unsuccessful attempt to rescue journalist James Foley to improve its image.

McCain said it reminded him of the way information was leaked out about the successful 2011 special operations raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

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“I don’t really like to impugn people’s motives all the time, but remember after we got Bin Laden all that stuff was leaked about it that was totally unnecessary and even compromised some of our capabilities," McCain said Thursday morning on Fox News.

"This is sort of the same thing. They see the negative, the disapproval of the American people of the handling of this situation, so one can’t help but assume that this is sort of to try and help their PR that they tried to rescue the hostages," he said.

The Obama administration on Wednesday briefed reporters about the failed attempt by U.S. special operations forces in Syria to rescue Foley, who was beheaded by the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The group released a video of the execution Tuesday.

The White House said it "never intended to disclose” the attempt to rescue Foley, but decided to reveal it because reporters had gotten wind of the failed rescue attempt.

"We only went public today when it was clear a number of media outlets were preparing to report on the operation and that we would have no choice but to acknowledge it," said National Security Council Spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden in a statement.

McCain said such disclosures would be, over time, "betraying some of our capabilities by revealing that," if only unintentionally.

McCain also called for the U.S. to do more militarily in Iraq, and well as to go into Syria, where ISIS established a foothold in the wake of the Syrian Civil War.

"ISIS is in Syria. And they have obliterated the boundary between Iraq and Syria. And we have to go in, and it's more than pinprick airstrikes. And we're going to need more boots on the ground," he said, although he added they did not have to be "combat troops."  

"It requires active American leadership and active American involvement," he said. They "will be coming to America unless we stop them."