Secret hostage rescue played out during State of the Union

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's becoming clear what President Barack Obama was referring to, when he told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, "Good job tonight" as he entered the House chamber for the State of the Union speech.

It turns out that an elite Navy SEAL team had just carried out a rescue of two hostages in Somalia -- one of them an American woman. It was the same SEAL unit that killed Osama bin Laden.

Pentagon officials say the SEAL team was intending to capture and detain the kidnappers. Instead, all nine of the kidnappers were killed, for reasons that haven't been revealed.

According to a spokesman for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the kidnappers were heavily armed. He says neither the hostages nor any members of the U.S. assault team were hurt.

Obama had learned shortly before last night's speech that American aid worker Jessica Buchanan and the Danish man, Poul Thisted, were safely in U.S. military hands. After the speech, he telephoned Buchanan's father to tell him that she was safe and "on her way home."

Panetta's spokesman says one factor in deciding to go ahead with the rescue was that Buchanan's medical condition had been deteriorating -- and that it could be life-threatening.

(Copyright 2012, The Associated Press)

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