The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation held their annual awards dinner. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was not there. Instead, he was the interviewee at Fox and Friends, where he revealed that he had been notified that he would be the recipient of their signature award and had been invited to the Foundation’s annual banquet, but then he was notified that they were rescinding the award and he was dis-invited.
“The return of hostages isn’t partisan. It’s not political. This is an American activity,” he said.
“We worked with Democrat members of Congress on this. This is not partisan.
“And yet, it sounds like some in the media, who were underwriting this event – sponsors for the event said ‘if Pompeo is there, we won’t be.’”
In January, he had received an apologetic note from Mr. Foley’s widow, who was sorry that the Foundation had decided to make the change. The change they had made was that they decided to give their premier award to someone else instead of Secretary Pompeo, after they had originally sent him a notice that he would be the recipient. Evidently she revealed that it was pressure from the keynote speaker and some of her friends that caused the Foundation to drop Secretary Pompeo.
The keynote speaker was Christiane Amanpour of CNN, and her pals were all media people.
Mike Pompeo wrote a gracious response to Mrs. Foley and did not say anything in public about the disinvitation until the week of the dinner.
Since James W. Foley had been a journalist, and since the Foundation has promoted journalism about Americans that are held as political prisoners around the world, the Foundation has a lot of connections to media and gets a lot of support from media. James W. Foley had been held hostage and ultimately was the subject of an ISIS beheading video.
Rather than honor the Trump Administration for diligent work to free political prisoners and hostages, the Foundation instead slammed the Trump Administration. The Foundation denied Secretary Pompeo’s account. They are saying that they rescinded the award because of Administration indifference to the murder of Jamal Kashoggi:
The decision with respect to the James W. Foley Hostage Advocate award is being mischaracterized by some media outlets. While it is accurate that our foundation intended to present our hostage freedom award to Secretary Pompeo, and we extended the invitation to him on November 19, we ultimately decided we could not present the award as planned due to the dramatic change in circumstances when the Administration did not press for genuine accountability from the Saudi government for the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
We communicated the reason for this decision to the Secretary’s team on January 11. Our decision had nothing to do with whether we received media pressure. In addition to advocating for the safe return of American hostages abroad, the protection of free speech and promotion of journalists’ safety is a key pillar of our foundation and this award would have been in conflict with that key principle.
We thank Secretary Pompeo for his extraordinary efforts to bring Americans home and are grateful for all that he and this administration have accomplished to prioritize the return of our citizens. In particular we are thankful for the time he recently dedicated to meeting with families of American hostages. We look forward to working closely with Secretary Pompeo and this administration on these efforts to bring Americans safely home.
Of course, it is not “some media outlets” that characterized the rescission as due to media pressure. That was what Secretary Pompeo said.
Secretary Pompeo is entirely deserving of the award. Kashoggi is just an excuse. Kashoggi was employed by the Washington Post, but he was being paid for by a grant from Qatar and had been putting out a series of hit pieces against the Saudi ruling family. Now it is sort of a complicated mess that Prince Salman chose to go full Bond Villain and commission the gruesome assassination on Turkish soil. He managed to poke Turkey, Qatar, the Trump Administration and western journalism all at the same time, plus put all his enemies on notice to lie low.
Kashoggi is just an excuse, however. Consider the record that prompted the Foundation to select Pompeo in the first place. The Trump Administration has obtained releases for as many political prisoners in two years as the Obama Administration managed in eight years, and without paying huge ransoms or releasing terrorists from Guantanamo. The Washington Examiner provided a copy of Secretary Pompeo’s letter to Mrs. Foley, with this excerpt:
“This work has been accomplished without the concessions that only encourage more hostage taking by the kidnappers and terrorists.”
Here is another quote from Secretary Pompeo’s letter, via the Washington Examiner:
“I understand that the Foundation decided to rescind the Freedom Award and my invitation to attend the 2019 James W. Foley Freedom Awards due to pressure from its media partners and your fear, stated in your letter, that some guests at the dinner would not show my office proper respect if I attended,” wrote Pompeo.
“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.
I absolutely expect “cynical and abominable” from CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times. They are the Enemy of the People.
Secretary Pompeo and President Trump deserve accolades for their work on this front. The Washington Examiner reports that President Trump takes an active interest and gets twice-weekly updates on political prisoners. We saw President Trump looking fresh and excited at 1:00 am when he went to greet the plane arriving with hostages released from North Korea.