Despite three failed raids to free U.S. hostages held by terrorists, the United States will continue to conduct such operations, administration officials indicated, as President Barack Obama grapples with a spate of kidnappings and killings of American citizens.
The latest setback came in a remote area of Yemen early on Saturday, when al-Qaida terrorists shot and fatally wounded American photo journalist Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie during a rescue attempt led by U.S. Special Forces.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel defended the operation and the intelligence that spurred it.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of going back and having a review of our process. Our process is about as thorough as there can be. Is it imperfect? Yes. Is there risk? Yes,” Hagel said during a visit to Tactical Base Gamberi in eastern Afghanistan.
Some members of Somers’ family have criticized the failed raid.
His British stepmother, Penny Bearman, told the Times newspaper that she was “quite angry, because if there had not been a rescue attempt, he would still be alive.” She said the family had not been informed of the rescue effort.
United States officials said Somers was about to be executed by his captors after they released a video last week threatening to kill him. But Bearman told the Times that previous threats had not been carried out, and she had been hopeful.
An earlier raid in mid-November to free Somers had been unsuccessful, as was a July attempt to rescue American journalist James Foley, held by Islamic State terrorists in Syria. Foley was later killed.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Monday that Obama had no regrets about ordering the mission.