What can be made of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation’s last minute decision to rescind its historic Freedom Award from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo? Pompeo was chosen in recognition of his and President Trump’s success in getting hostages released. It is an impressive record for just a bit more than 2 years that totals 20 people, 17 of whom are American. Journalist James Foley, to refresh your memory, was beheaded at the hands of ISIS in 2014.
The foundation made an announcement that at its dinner Tuesday night at the National Press Club Pompeo would receive the 2019 Foley American Hostage Freedom Award. And, just like that, Pompeo’s award was rescinded and he was also disinvited to even attend the event. The award was given to former Obama administration diplomat Brett McGurk who helped with the release of Americans from Iran, including Jason Rezaian, a journalist who received the foundation’s journalism award. McGurk resigned in a snit with much publicity from his holdover position with the Trump administration in December 2018 because of Trump’s decision to pull troops from Syria.
The award was to recognize Pompeo and the administration’s focus on freeing Americans held prisoners around the world, a campaign that has topped the president’s foreign policy agenda and inspired the appointment of a “special presidential envoy for hostage affairs.”
The group even posted its decision online in its invitation for supporters to pay up to $50,000 a table to attend the awards banquet.
But soon after it was announced, the foundation withdrew it. What’s more, they also disinvited Pompeo from the event due to protests from angered media members who threatened to disrupt the event.
Instead, the foundation gave Pompeo’s award to Brett McGurk, the Obama-era diplomat who helped win the release of Americans from Iran, including journalist Jason Rezaian. Rezaian received the group’s journalism award.
So, what on earth happened here? This is a kind of completely avoidable mess that Secretary Pompeo does not deserve. The story goes that some of Pompeo’s (and by extension, Trump’s) betters in the press were not pleased with the selection of Pompeo and began to threaten to boycott the event, so desperate are they to deny any kind of acknowledgment of success to the Trump administration. The keynote speaker, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour also voiced her concern. According to reports, CNN is quite cowardly sending all inquiries into the matter back to the Foley Foundation. Unreal.
The foundation pinned a tweet – a tweet that stays at the top of their Twitter feed – just a few hours ago as I write this Thursday night that is a statement on why they did the last-minute change. The reason given is that the Trump administration didn’t push hard enough for accountability in the death of Washington Post journalist/foreign influence agent Jamal Khashoggi. I guess they have had backlash from the public after this hideous story began to be reported.
Please see our statement regarding our 2019 James W. Foley American Hostage Freedom award. pic.twitter.com/Evo6jZJJIr
— JamesFoleyFoundation (@JamesFoleyFund) April 4, 2019
Secretary Pompeo wrote a gracious letter to Mrs. Foley, mother of James and founder after this travesty. She personally told Pompeo when he was chosen for the honor. After telling her what an inspiration James was Pompeo got to the point. The ugliness of Trump Derangement Syndrome has infiltrated absolutely everything, even the rescue of American hostages overseas.
“How sad is it that base politics and hatred have been allowed to creep into even this sphere of our national activity? The safe recovery of Americans held hostage overseas should be beyond politics and must enjoy the support of all Americans. I regret that pressure of such a cynical and abominable nature was brought to bear on you and John,” he added in a reference also to James Foley’s father.
Before the award dinner, Pompeo hosted a reception for families of Americans held captive overseas. He assured them of his commitment to bring them home.
It was an honor to speak yesterday with the families of American citizens held captive abroad. I told them @StateDept & the @realDonaldTrump Administration carry their loved ones in our hearts, and we are committed to doing our very best every day to bring their loved ones home. pic.twitter.com/Qu2lYoZ52W
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) April 3, 2019
It’s a slap in the face to the memory of James Foley if you ask me. His bravery and death are honored by a foundation set up by his mother and father. Now, because it’s the era of Trump, mob rule by the American media is now allowed to make decisions on the distribution of awards. How sick is that?