White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said Sunday the Obama administration only terrified families of kidnapped American citizens in order to make “clear what the law is” regarding trying to ransom the life of a loved one.
McDonough, who claimed to be a father himself, disputed reports that the families of James Foley and Steven Sotloff were threatened with prosecution by executive-branch officials during an appearance with John Roberts on Fox News Sunday. But he said the alleged threats occurred over “many many” meetings during which administration officials explained the families’ powerlessness to them. “That’s our responsibility,” McDonough said, “to make sure we explain the law and uphold the law.”
McDonough also went into detail about the failed rescue operation the administration publicized after Foley’s murder was made public by the Islamic State. The failed operation, McDonough said, involved “hundreds of people in a multi-unit, multi-platform effort, which is something about which we are all very proud.”