White House: We're At War With ISIS

Update: Steven Sotloff's parents are also now saying they were threatened with prosecution if they tried to raise the ransom money. One crime they were told they could be charged with: Material support of terrorism. This is completely unacceptable. I think it's time to out the officials who made the threats. (How is it John Kerry didn't know about this? See his response below.


Yesterday on CNN, John Kerry refused to call the fight against ISIS a war:

“We're engaged in a counterterrorism operation of a significant order," said Kerry, speaking from Saudi Arabia. "I think 'war' is the wrong reference term with respect to that, but obviously it involves kinetic military action."

Today, White House Spokesman John Earnest pulled no such punches.

"In the same way that we are at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates around the globe, we are at war with ISIL."

In other ISIS news, the family of James Foley is lashing out at the Obama administration saying they were threatened with prosecution if they tried to raise the ransom money. Foley's mother tells ABC: [More...]

She said the warnings over the summer came primarily from a highly decorated military officer serving on the White House's National Security Council staff, which five outraged current and former officials with direct knowledge of the Foley case also recounted to ABC News in recent weeks.

"Three times he intimidated us with that message. We were horrified he would say that. He just told us we would be prosecuted. We knew we had to save our son, we had to try," Diane Foley said.

John Kerry was asked about the claims today. His response:

Question: We have reports on American networks that the Foley family was pressured by the U.S. Government, including the State Department, not to pay ransom. Is that true?


Let me just say that I am really taken aback – surprised, I guess, is the word, by this comment with respect to the Foley family. And I can tell you that I am totally unaware and would not condone anybody that I know of within the State Department making such statements. So I don’t know about it. But I will tell you this: Diane Foley and John Foley are extraordinary people. They’re an extraordinary family. And she did an amazing job on behalf of her family to try to do everything possible, leaving no stone unturned in order to try to bring Jim back safely. I worked previously in the effort to help Jim get freed when he was previously taken hostage. And everybody is heartbroken that we were not able to do it.

I and others in the government worked as hard as we know how to reach out to country after country – dozens of countries were talked to in an effort to try to create some avenue of success. And as everybody knows, President Obama ordered a risky but very important and necessary effort to try to rescue these hostages. I sat through that mission, watching every moment of it, waiting for word of a rescue and holding our breath because our people were on the ground performing very difficult tasks.

In other Syria news, there are reports ISIS has been leaving Raqqa with its military equipment to avoid the expected airstrikes and regroup.

Also, ISIS today signed a non-aggression pact with a "moderate rebel" group in Hajar al-Aswad, outside of Damascus. These groups, like the tribes, float with the wind. One day they are with you, next day they're not. The U.S. could easily get caught in their tangled web of changing alliances.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Sadly, a threat of that nature would find support (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Peter G on Fri Sep 12, 2014 at 10:24:45 PM EST
    in the 2010 Supreme Court decision interpreting the "material support" statute shockingly broadly.

    Most unfortunate (none / 0) (#8)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Sep 14, 2014 at 12:35:41 PM EST
    Thanks for posting.  

    Most unfortunate (none / 0) (#9)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun Sep 14, 2014 at 12:36:36 PM EST
    Thanks for posting.  

    just speculating here, (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by cpinva on Sat Sep 13, 2014 at 09:17:40 AM EST
    but what makes you think someone wouldn't, of their own volition, threaten these people with prosecution, if they attempted to ransom their son? this supposedly came, not from DOJ, but from a military officer, on the NSC staff. as far as I am aware, the NSC has no authority to prosecute anyone. that the threat came from an individual who, himself, is probably not an attorney, and has no authority to prosecute anyone, kind of causes me to think he/she just did this on their own, without anyone else's knowledge.

    with respect to the state dept., I could see them urging both the Foley and Sotloff families to not pay any ransom, for fear it would result in ISIS/ISIL going into the kidnapping/ransom business, as a means of financing their war on mankind. again though, state has no arrest/prosecution authority, so I'm inclined to believe any threats weren't official policy, but made (assuming they actually were) by someone on their own.

    I wonder if it is linked in some way (none / 0) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Sep 13, 2014 at 12:04:23 PM EST
    To the infighting that the Sotloff family claims was ongoing.  Perhaps someone part of the infighting thought that the Foley family pressing for paying ransom would cause them to somehow lose the infight in some way.

    John Kerry is shocked - shocked - I tell you (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Anne on Sat Sep 13, 2014 at 09:31:19 AM EST
    that anything like what has been described could have happened.

    Good Lord.

    I don't know if Kerry's protestations (none / 0) (#1)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Sep 12, 2014 at 08:19:38 PM EST
    were more pathetic than disingenuous or more disingenuous than pathetic, regarding threats to prosecute any attempt to ransom the reporter.

    Non-war or war? (none / 0) (#6)
    by KeysDan on Sat Sep 13, 2014 at 04:28:31 PM EST
    War it is. We have necessarily evolved, it seems to me, on the basis of a novel legal theory.  Time to jettison those pesky War Powers Resolution requirements for deployments into hostilities to end after 60 days without Congressional approval.  Now, we are moving into the 9/l11AUMF of 200l coupled with the Iraq AUMF of 2002 (which the Administration indicated earlier that it wants repealed) as statutory authority.

    The 2002 AUMF for war was on the (late) Saddam's  (former) Iraqi government. War against Saddam's  surefire possession of WMD, followed by war against insurgents, one group of which was an affiliate of al Qaeda under Osama bin Laden., al Qaeda of Iraq, the provenance of ISIS.  Hence, the new bombing is a resumption of the old war, after a pause.  

    This bombing is not to be confused with the non-war in Libya that did not require invoking the War Powers Act since that bombing did not involve hostilities

    It's time for our Ministry of Peace (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Sep 13, 2014 at 08:29:48 PM EST
    to declare a permanent state of War.

    Where is Oceania, anyway?