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The gruesome murder of American reporter James Foley was horrific enough, but now right-wing bloggers and conservative commentators seem determined to make it more grotesque still. With word from ABC News that the Obama White House was aware that ISIS was threatening to kill Foley and fellow journalist Steven Sotloff in retaliation for American air strikes against its fighters in Iraq, the Republican amen corner is blaming the president for what it deems a "preventable atrocity." Obama, they seem to suggest, should have freed the hostages by kowtowing to or negotiating with terrorists—just like Ronald Reagan.

In her time of grief, James Foley's mother implored the kidnappers to "spare the lives of the remaining hostages" who are innocents with "no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world." But the right-wing noise machine had a different message. Conveniently ignoring the killings of Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg during President Bush's tenure, Israel Matsav declared "This is the result of the world perceiving a weak America," adding, "Thank you Hussein Obama." The oxymoronically-named Independent Journal Review proclaimed that "bringing these terrorists to justice transcends partisan politics," only to declare in the next sentence, "We can only hope that President Obama weighs his decisions [about further air strikes against ISIS] carefully and thoughtfully." And the always execrable Hot Air offered the most obscene assessment of all:

The revelation that the White House was aware of the threats to Foley's life and was unable to provide for his safety will prompt administration critics to sharpen their attacks on Obama's approach to the crisis in the Middle East. In the wake of what may have been a preventable atrocity, some of that criticism will be quite valid.
Valid criticism? Not from anyone now suggesting the U.S. "strike a deal with the Islamic State" or ever accused President Obama of "negotiating with terrorists." After all, that was Ronald Reagan's approach.

Continue reading about Reagan negotiated with terrorists below.

Iran-Contra, as you'll recall, almost laid waste to the Reagan presidency. Desperate to free U.S. hostages held by Iranian proxies in Lebanon, President Reagan provided weapons Tehran badly needed in its long war with Saddam Hussein (who, of course, was backed by the United States). In a clumsy and illegal attempt to skirt U.S. law, the proceeds of those sales were then funneled to the contras fighting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. And as the New York Times recalled, Reagan's fiasco started with an emissary bearing gifts from the Gipper himself:

A retired Central Intelligence Agency official has confirmed to the Senate Intelligence Committee that on the secret mission to Teheran last May, Robert C. McFarlane and his party carried a Bible with a handwritten verse from President Reagan for Iranian leaders.

According to a person who has read the committee's draft report, the retired C.I.A. official, George W. Cave, an Iran expert who was part of the mission, said the group had 10 falsified passports, believed to be Irish, and a key-shaped cake to symbolize the anticipated ''opening'' to Iran.

As his diaries published in 2005 show, President Ronald Reagan was under no illusions about either the illegality of the scheme or that it constituted anything other than a swap of arms for hostages. On Thursday, December 5, 1985, Reagan wrote in his diary:
N.S.C. briefing--probably Bud's last. Subject was our undercover effort to free our 5 hostages held by terrorists in Lebanon. It is a complex undertaking with only a few of us in on it. I won't even write in the diary what we're up to.
Nevertheless, just two days later the Gipper wrote about that very topic. On Saturday, December 7, Reagan noted in his diary:
Day opened with "Rex" (our new dog) on our bed. I then had a meeting with Don R., Cap W. and Bud M., John P., Geo. Schultz and Mahan of C.I.A. This had to do with the complex plan which could return our 5 hostages & help some officials in Iran who want to turn that country from its present course & on to a better relationship with us. It calls for Israel selling some weapons to Iran. As they are delivered in installments by air our hostages will be released. The weapons will go to the moderate leaders in the army who are essential if there is to be a change to a more stable govt. We then sell Israel replacements for the delivered weapons. None of this is a gift--the Iranians pay cash for the weapons--so does Israel.

George S. Cap and Don are opposed--Cong. has imposed a law that we can't sell Iran weapons or sell any other country weapons for resale to Iran. Geo. also thinks this violates our policy of not paying off terrorists. I claim the weapons are for those who want to change the govt of Iran & no ransom is being pd. for the hostages. No direct sale would be made by us to Iran but we would be replacing the weapons sold by Israel.

In case there was any doubt that Ronald Reagan blessed the delivery of hundreds of advanced anti-tank weapons to Tehran, the president himself removed it with his January 17, 1986, diary entry, "I agreed to sell TOWs to Iran."

The rest, as they say, is history. Or more accurately, rewritten history. As President Reagan told the American people in a nationally televised address on March 4, 1987:

A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not. As the Tower board reported, what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages.
And when Reagan wasn't trying to buy the release of American hostages from Iranian-backed terrorists, he happily accepted the help of others in freeing U.S. captives from the Assad regime in Syria.

On December 4, 1983, President Reagan ordered carrier-based jets to strike targets in Lebanon after reconnaissance aircraft protecting U.S. peacekeeping forces there were fired on. The raid was a disaster. Syrian anti-aircraft batteries downed two jets, killing one pilot and capturing another. As Reagan wrote in his diary that night, "We're trying to get a confirmation & will open negotiations for their return." (That same night, Reagan wrote in his diary that he attended a Hanukah ceremony and went to a reception honoring Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart, Elia Kazan, Katherine Dunham and Virgil Thompson at the JFK Center for the Performing Arts. "A posse of our Hollywood friends will be at the W.H. for the reception," President Reagan noted, adding later, "It turned out to be a wonderful evening & a great show.")

As it turned out, the surviving airman was returned to the United States, but only after the unsanctioned intervention of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. On January 4, 1984, Reagan had to admit, "You can't quarrel with success." As the AP reported that day:
"The United States, said Reagan, was ready to approach the problems of the Middle East "with a renewed spirit."

Reagan also applauded Democratic rival Jesse Jackson for the personal unofficial mission which gained the release of Navy Lt. Robert O. Goodman, Jr...To Jackson, the president said "it is a great day here in Washington. All Americans thank you. There have been a lot of prayers here in Washington. I have been praying for you. I couldn't be happier."

Thirty-one years later, Reagan's 21st century acolytes happily ignore that history. As long as President Obama is blamed for the murder of James Foley, they couldn't be happier.

UPDATE: The White House has announced that a special operations mission to rescue James Foley and other hostages was mounted earlier this summer. " Unfortunately, that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present."

Originally posted to Jon Perr on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 10:38 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ok, let them suit up... (13+ / 0-)

    ...and go in first.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 10:43:31 AM PDT

  •  Polls have shown that the bombing is receiving (7+ / 0-)

    Republican support.  You're always going to have some righties who will criticize anything he does.  Even if they contradict themselves in so doing.

    "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

    by Paleo on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 10:44:21 AM PDT

    •  The American Right Wing has never (7+ / 0-)

      been consistent about any position it has ever taken. The only thing it is consistent about, is its eternal quest for power, and then more power. The American Right wing quite literally, worships power. The acquisition and exercise of it is the RW raison d'etre.

      •  Consistency (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gffish, buffie

        If Democrats are for it, then they're against it.

      •  Republicans don't worship power, they worship G... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kenneth houck, harris stein

        Republicans don't worship power, they worship God who doles out the power to those boldly righteous people whose humility shine across the universe as a beacon to lesser worlds who have not received the joyous words of God. His schedule is really busy-he's still finishing up Breaking Bad-so he's a bit behind on his schedule to bring Christianity to all worlds. Even worse, Christ is getting tired being born and killed over and over again to the point after every new world he needs to take 3-10 months to recuperate.

        tl;dr Republicans don't worship power, they worship God who gives them power.

        •  I don't think they worship any God, (0+ / 0-)

          no matter how loudly they claim to be doing that. What they are doing is using religion and associated ritual as a means to gain and exercise political power. "God" for the American right wing, is mostly a means to an end.

  •  And how many Yazidi lives were saved (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TopCat

    bombings.

    "When dealing with terrorism, civil and human rights are not applicable." Egyptian military spokesman.

    by Paleo on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 10:46:32 AM PDT

  •  If a "Full Reagan" (18+ / 0-)

    is sending missiles and a chocolate cake to terrorists, a Half Reagan would be running way and starting a new war against Grenada to shift attention.

  •  Excellent post. Wonder if Obama and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    native, Samer, doingbusinessas

    Republicans are following Isis playbook?

    The Guardian

    James Foley’s murder will see calls for military action – just what Isis wants

    The ‘war on terror’ has made jihadism stronger than ever. The west must be careful not to fuel the fear upon which Isis thrives

    Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

    by divineorder on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 11:03:03 AM PDT

  •  So he needs to get 241 marines killed? (15+ / 0-)

    And then cut and run?

    Oh wait, I forgot, they're talking about the imaginary Reagan of their fantasy world, not the real person.

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 11:08:36 AM PDT

  •  Surprised there hasn't been a front page.... (0+ / 0-)

    post on the beheading video. As this diary points out, there's going to be some sort of contrived outrage against Obama by the RW that should be discussed here. Also, is ISIS so insane as to require a broader response? I think no, but ISIS seems fully capable of some large scale atrocity where it should be debated at least.

    No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.

    by Magster on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 11:46:49 AM PDT

  •  In Reagan's diary... (0+ / 0-)

    ...he talks about

    I then had a meeting with Don R...
    Is this Donald Rumsfeld? If so, look at this later in the same quote
    George S. Cap and Don are opposed--Cong. has imposed a law that we can't sell Iran weapons or sell any other country weapons for resale to Iran.
    (Emphasis my own.) Unbelievable! What the hell happened to Rummy?! I actually agree with him here!

    Their cause must be our cause too. Because it's not just Negroes, but really it's all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome. -- Lyndon B. Johnson

    by AllTheWayWithLBJ85 on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 11:46:57 AM PDT

  •  Obama's numbers are going to come up (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    METAL TREK, askew, buffie

    after this, because he's doing it right. The Foley murder will only make people more inclined to support the action against ISIL.

    Really, the gop is reeling, or will be shortly.

    This is a "flail" bringing up Reagan, and will only serve to focus the cold eye of history more on his disastrous tenure.

    They're actually falling back on Romney as a 2016 savior.

    Please proceed, gop.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 11:48:40 AM PDT

    •  I really would like to see the U.S. (0+ / 0-)

      capture Zawahri in Afghanistan (or in Pakistan, if need be) this September or October. That criminal murdermind has been a free man for too many years. Meh on Mullah Omar: he's small potatoes. I can't imagine how the Republicans would criticize the capture of Zawahri, but I'm sure they would find a way.

      And yes I do intend to get a trademark for the phrase "criminal murdermind."

  •  Umm. Are these the same people (12+ / 0-)

    who first applauded, then turned on the President for securing the release of Bowe Bergdahl?

    I think that here, as with all right-wing positions the past few years, the operating principle is

    Barack Hussein Obama, the illegally elected President of the United States, who happens to be Black and a Democrat and is neither a US citizen nor a Christian, must not be acknowledged to do or have done anything right.

    Ever.  

    Even if we originally suggested and endorsed it.

    "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it." -- Neil DeGrasse Tyson

    "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."
    -- Aldous Huxley

    by ThePhlebob on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 12:37:29 PM PDT

  •  They said the EXACT opposite for Bergdahl. (12+ / 0-)

    I'm getting whiplash.  They hate the government for Bundy, but love it for Mike Brown.  We shouldn't prevent Bergdahl's death, but we should with Foley.  The ONLY time they are consistent is that they are against anything the President does. Done.

    •  I was all... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hushes

      set to say that, but I'm pleased that I'm not the first to notice the blatant hypocrisy compared to Bow Bergdahl.

      "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

      by JackND on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:13:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was just going to post (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Magnifico, METAL TREK, askew, harrije, Hushes

    Something similar. They couldn't believe Obama would act unilaterally to free an American citizen by striking a "deal" with terrorists and now they can't believe he didn't.

    UID 100224 "I got a rock"-Charlie Brown

    by eashep on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:12:21 PM PDT

  •  Remembering and honoring (9+ / 0-)

    the selfless journalism of James Foley.

    Photobucket

    Prayers tonight for his family and friends.

    God bless those who put their lives on the line to inform the world.

    Alison Lundergan Grimes for Senate!

    by noweasels on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:15:37 PM PDT

  •  So when we negotiate with terrorists (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    METAL TREK

    to bring home Sgt. Bergdahl, Right Wing NJs called it "treason" or "bad precedent" or "weak".  But now RW they want negotiations? Not doing so is considered 'weak'. And they don't want us to strike ISIS who are killing Christians?

    Seriously. WTF?

  •  The right wing is disgusting n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  obama could have (3+ / 0-)

    done something irresponsible like get hundreds of marines killed by not securing their quarters properly, of course then he could be brave and invade lets say, hmmm, a nation like grenada and beat his chest like a fool, but i don't think obama is that crass, although reagan certainly was.

  •  At what point do we use the word "treason" again, (0+ / 0-)

    and again, and again in addressing the RW?  

  •  Listen to this Syrian woman telling off McCain (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gffish

    about his support for the whacked out "rebels" before they morphed into ISIS.  They were cutting heads off in Syria before crossing into Iraq.  
    .
    .

    The ISIS/ISIL/IS crowd of kooks were ethnically cleansing the Christians from Syria, but the neocons didn't care about that and were fully supporting them to vanquish Assad and send Syria into the Stone Age along with the other countries on their hegemonic/moronic hit list.  What a horrific FP!  If we saw videos of the damage US bombs/drones have done to human beings, we would be ashamed.  It's just as barbaric as up close and personally doing the horrific killing, but sadly kills thousands upon thousands of innocent human beings no one sees here, no one names here, and whose bodies no one counts here.

    Information is the currency of democracy. ~Thomas Jefferson

    by CIndyCasella on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:32:04 PM PDT

  •  GOP Terrorist Cheerleaders Turning Appeasers nt (0+ / 0-)

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:37:42 PM PDT

  •  Zombie Saint Reagan had killed all the terroris... (0+ / 0-)

    Zombie Saint Reagan had killed all the terrorists with his bare hands then carried all of the hostages to Branson, Missouri where ZSR and Andy Williams sang songs concluding with a standing ovation after they'd finished their Moon River duet. Later that evening ZSR defeated communism by punching a grizzly bear, that was psychotically high on marijuana, in the chest, pulling out its heart and eating it to show America is not a weak country. The next day ZSR brought peace and democracy to the Middle East, balanced the budget by cutting taxes to zero, which allowed the economy to blossom so brilliantly that unemployment was down to two people. And during all that he also found the Higgs Boson God particle. Then Clinton was elected and the liberal media denied ZSR accomplished all these great feats and even had the temerity to suggest ZSR did not exist, which scarred the brains of many young, impressionable children who ended up going on wildings and playing the knock out games so ZSR secretly supplied military grade weapons and armament to police departments to catch shoplifters and smoking teenagers out past curfew. ZSR is still out there protecting America and Earth from the invasion fleet sent by the race E.T. belonged to--the movie was a liberal-Hollywood-George Soros conspiracy to depict those horrible aliens as friendly. So tonight, say a prayer to ZSR for all he's done for America and the human race.

  •  Now is really the time to push the Iran-contra (0+ / 0-)

    story. These right wingers are weasels and traitors.

    After the farce comes the tragedy.

    by slouching on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:54:43 PM PDT

  •  When (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buffie

    Danny Pearl went missing, someone asked Bush at a presser a couple of days later what he was doing/could do.

    He pretty much squirmed and shuffled his feet and clearly wanted the whole issue to go away. So don't anyone go telling me that President Obama isn't paying proper attention to this matter.

    Every woman should have a blowtorch. -- Julia Child

    by Mnemosyne on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:59:13 PM PDT

  •  I don't care aout Reagan - (0+ / 0-)

    I want the guys that killed the journalist dead.

    I don't care how.

    I want them dead slowly and painfully.

    This is NOW. We need to hunt them down and kill them.

  •  I was arrested by the Iranian government (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kenneth houck

    because of Iran Contra and then realeased 255 days later.

    One of my guards in prison also 'escorted' the US team that took the cake, bible, and pistols to Iran while they were in Tehran.

    He talked about them with me sometimes. They were a bunch of fools - taking a cake to a Muslim country during Ramadan being one example.

    The world is bad enough as it is, you have no right to make it any worse.
    Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

    by InAntalya on Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 12:44:35 AM PDT

  •  Brown shirt Tea crap (0+ / 0-)

    Why don't these chickenhawk cowards become mercenaries and go fight themselves. Loudmouthed, racist little Koch pimps, these are the people that hide at home while others fight and die.

  •  Not even (0+ / 0-)

    I have heard from one RWer that we should "remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki".  And this person isn't known for many original thoughts.

  •  Any page... (0+ / 0-)

    from the Reagan Playbook, on ANY issue, would be by definition ill-thought-out, and ultimately destructive for America.
    His was a disastrous presidency that was more deeply damaging in the long-term to the US than even that of George W. Bush.
    Yet in their ideological, spiritual vacuum, republicans continue to swoon at the mere mention of his name.
    Many thanks to Daily Kos and John Perr for reminding us of the facts.
    Ronald Reagan would not be worthy to shine Barack Obama's shoes.

    "These 'Yet To Be' United States" --James Baldwin-- -6.75, -5.78

    by kevinbr38 on Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 04:04:17 AM PDT

  •  Matthews (0+ / 0-)

    Last night before I quickly shut him off Matthews was ranting to anyone who would listen that Obama must declare full on jihad against ISIS because they killed an AMERICAN.  Howard Fineman was trying to calm him down but nothing seemed to work.

  •  Sir Ronnie..he bravely ran away (0+ / 0-)

    it worked before- give the monsters weapons but lie about it, set up drug trails to Studio 54 and the ghettos, run away from allies and promises in Lebanon as its hard-like confronting HIV.  then a battleship fleet to some Island lacking an army, navy, air force- somehow win, give out more medals then in all of Vietnam, thinking of Vietnam try and set up another Gulf of Tolken but shoot down a plane filled with women and children- what the Hell give them medals too, then take your tax breaks to the basement of studio 54 for some of that sweet Columbian... sorry Donald, up off your knees Studio 54 is gone Cohn dead

  •  If you have ever been in a tea bagger's (0+ / 0-)

    house you see the pictures of good old boy Ron Reagan all over the place. They worship him as if he is a god second only to Jesus.

    Their hypocrisy however is breathtaking. They blame Obama for the growth of ISIS when in reality the rise of the jihadis goes back to, well, Reagan. Then Bush 2 closed the jihadi circle by invading and occupying Iraq. The jihadis rushed in to fill the vacuum left by the death of Saddam. The jihadis hooked up with the Sunnis. The only way the back of the Sunni insurgency was broken was by funneling massive amounts of money to the Sunni Awakening. The jihadis never went away however. In 2011 with the so called Arab spring they regrouped to fill the vacuum created in north and west Africa and the greater middle east.

    Some of the people in Africa were simply criminals. The ISIS people however are not. They are for all practical purposes, holy warriors. Just like the tea baggers, who I consider to be Christian crusaders, the Muslim holy warriors didn't magically appear in 2011. Just like the tea baggers they were waiting in the margins for 20 or 30 years and then moved in to fill a political vacuum. In the case of the tea baggers it was the failure of the country club republicans to see the dangers of a mass movement. In the case of ISIS it was the failure of Bush 2 to see that removing an entrenched dictator like Saddam without a follow up plan led to disaster.

    Knowledge is Power. Ignorance is not bliss, it is suffering. If you like hypocrite Obama, you'll love hypocrite Hillary.

    by harris stein on Thu Aug 21, 2014 at 09:28:21 AM PDT

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