House Armed Services chairman: Investigate ‘damaging’ Foley leak

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) on Thursday called for an inquiry into who leaked information about a botched attempt earlier this year to rescue photojournalist James Foley.


It was “unwise” for the White House and the Defense Department to formally acknowledge the operation and “outrageous that someone would be so selfish and short sighted to leak it to the media,” the outgoing lawmaker said in a statement.

He urged Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to look into the matter “immediately and thoroughly” to determine who, if anyone, at the Pentagon was the source of this “damaging leak.”

The heads of other agencies involved in the mission should take similar steps, McKeon said.

“Successful or not, such operations are incredibly sensitive, even after they have concluded,” he added. “Disclosure of these missions puts our troops at risk, reduces the likelihood that future missions will succeed, and risks the lives of hostages and informants alike.”

Late Wednesday, the Obama administration told reporters about the failed attempt by U.S. special operations forces in Syria to rescue Foley from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The revelation followed the release by the terrorist group on Tuesday of a video showing Foley’s execution.

The White House said it "never intended to disclose” the rescue attempt, but decided to disclose the mission because reporters had somehow learned of it.

"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," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday also skewered the administration over the failed rescue attempt, saying it only confessed to “help their PR.”

Their comments come the same day the Government Accountability Office issued the results of an investigation concluding the Pentagon broke the law when it swapped five Taliban detainees from Guantánamo Bay in exchange for prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.