Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) are voicing concerns that a senior military official may have divulged key details about an upcoming offensive against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“It was deeply disturbing to read today that an official from U.S. Central Command, in an official briefing to the media, provided detailed operational information regarding coalition plans to retake Mosul,” the pair wrote in a letter to President Obama.
“Never in our memory can we recall an instance in which our military has knowingly briefed our own war plans to our enemies,” said McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Graham.
The disclosures “not only risk the success of our mission, but could also cost the lives of U.S., Iraqi, and coalition forces.”
“Given the serious impact of these disclosures, we want to know who at U.S. Central Command was responsible for this briefing, and whether they had prior approval from the White House to divulge this information,” the pair wrote. “Those responsible have jeopardized our national security interests and must be held accountable.”
During a background briefing on Thursday a senior official at Central Command told reporters a surprising number of details about a spring offensive to rid Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, of up to 2,000 ISIS fighters.
The official disclosed it would take about 25,000 members of Iraq’s security forces, trained by U.S. troops in as little as three to four weeks, to retake Mosul and that the offensive likely would happen in April or May.
Those details have lawmakers worried the military coughed up its strategy for taking on ISIS.
“It’s very mystifying why this administration would reveal potential plans to retake Mosul,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who also sits on the Armed Services panel, during an interview Thursday on Fox News’s “The Kelly File.”
“I certainly think it’s a roll of the dice,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Friday during an interview with CNN’s “New Day.” “It’s a bit of a gamble that the Pentagon is taking.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Friday declined to comment on the specifics of the pending military operation.
“I can’t confirm that that is the playbook,” he said.
Credit: Martin Matishak – 02/20/15