The United States intelligence agencies have authenticated the videotaped beheading of American journalist James Foley. “The U.S. intelligence community has analyzed the recently released video showing U.S. citizens James Foley and Steven Sotloff. We have reached the judgment that this video is authentic,” said Caitlin Hayden, National Security Council spokesperson, according to The New York Times.
Foley’s journalistic contributions brought vital reporting to the world despite enormous personal risk in perilous locations. His mother, Diane Foley, said on the “Free James Foley” Facebook page that, “We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people. We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages … Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.”
As President Barack Obama said at a press conference midday Wednesday, “Jim was a journalist, a son, a brother, and a friend. He reported from difficult and dangerous places bearing witness to the lives of people a world away … Jim’s life stands in contrast to his killers.” Unfortunately, a tragedy as heart-wrenching and gruesome as this will still inevitably lead to questions on what his death means politically — for both journalists overseas and for American foreign policy.