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VOL. 36 | NO. 3 | Friday, January 20, 2012




Obama praises Special Forces for hostage rescue

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Wednesday praised U.S. Special Operations Forces who rescued two hostages, including an American aid worker, from pirates in Somalia during an early morning raid.

Obama said Jessica Buchanan, an American aid worker with the Danish Refugee Council, is "on her way home." Buchanan and Dane Poul Hagen Thisted were kidnapped at gunpoint by Somali pirates in October.

"As Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission, and the dedicated professionals who supported their efforts," Obama said in a statement.

Two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the top secret operation, said the operation was carried out by U.S. Navy SEALs.

In a separate statement, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Buchanan and Hagen Thisted "have been transported to a safe location where we will evaluate their health and make arrangements for them to return home." He said the two hostages were not harmed during the operation, and no U.S. troops were killed or injured.

"This was a team effort and required close coordination, especially between the Department of Defense and our colleagues in the Federal Bureau of Investigation," Panetta said.

On NBC's "Today," Vice President Joe Biden said the U.S. had determined that Buchanan's health "was beginning to decline."

"We wanted to act," Biden said.

Obama approved the mission Monday. On Tuesday, Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, gave the president half a dozen updates on the movement of forces and the progression of rescue operation.

About two hours before Obama was scheduled to begin delivering his State of the Union address, Brennan told him Buchanan and Thisted were safe and in U.S. hands.

Obama congratulated Panetta before delivering his speech at the U.S. Capitol. As he entered the House chamber, he pointed at Panetta in the audience and said, "Good job tonight." The president did not mention the operation during his address to Congress and the nation.

After delivering his address, Obama called Buchanan's father. In his statement Wednesday, Obama said he told John Buchanan "that all Americans have Jessica in our thoughts and prayers, and give thanks that she will soon be reunited with her family."

"The United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will spare no effort to secure the safety of our citizens and to bring their captors to justice," Obama said. "This is yet another message to the world that the United States of America will stand strongly against any threats to our people."

Biden had high praise for the special forces. "It takes your breath away, their capacity and their bravery," he said on ABC's "Good Morning America." ''These guys and women are amazing."

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