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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rescue in Colombia...

In what looks like a rescue for the ages, Ingrid Betancourt (a French-Colombian politician captured while running for President of Colombia) and 3 Americans, Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell, and Thomas Howes were freed by a Colombian military rescue operation today.

The Americans were taken hostage in February 2003 after their drug reconnaisance plane crashed. We celebrate with their families today.

Sen. McCain remembered them and urged the Colombian government to continue to work for their release just yesterday...

UPDATE: Apparently, Sen. McCain was informed of this rescue operation last night. Here is his statement on the operation:

Statement by John McCain on Today's Hostage Rescue in Colombia

ARLINGTON, VA -- U.S. Senator John McCain issued the following statement on today's hostage rescue in Colombia: "Today, I spoke by phone to President Uribe. He told me some of the details of the dramatic rescue of the people who were held hostage. Three Americans are now free and Ingrid Betancourt is now in good condition. I'm pleased with the success of this very high-risk operation. Sometimes in the past, the FARC has killed the hostages rather than let them be rescued.

"So I congratulate President Uribe, the military and the nation of Colombia. It is great news. Now we must renew our efforts to free all of the other innocent people held hostage. With regard to the three Americans and Ingrid Betancourt -- they had been held many years, as many as six years.

"Last night, President Uribe and the defense minister did brief us that the operation was going to take place today."

UPDATE #2: Counterterrorism Blog with more on the operation.

UPDATE #3: New York Times: Hostage Rescue Is Happy Coincidence for McCain in Colombia :

"Although the timing of the rescue was a coincidence and Mr. McCain’s trip to Colombia had nothing to do with it, the event nonetheless put him in the middle of classified talks about covert operations with the head of another government.

Mr. McCain said that he and his traveling companions -- Senators Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut – had been informed by Mr. Uribe on Tuesday evening in Cartagena that the Colombian government planned to try on Wednesday to rescue a number of hostages, including the Americans, Thomas Howes, Marc Gonsalves and Keith Stansell. All three were military contractors who were abducted in 2003 in Colombia when their plane went down.

The talks about the planned rescue, which Mr. Lieberman described as detailed, delayed the start of a news conference on Tuesday that Mr. McCain held with Mr. Uribe outside the presidential retreat in Cartagena. In the news conference, Mr. McCain gave no hint of what he had just learned, although he mentioned the American hostages and praised Mr. Uribe’s efforts to battle FARC."

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