News & Politics

McCain: Pentagon Dragging Its Feet on Report of Captured Sailors

U.S. Sen. John McCain attends a panel discussion at the Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Senator John McCain says that the White House and the Pentagon are dragging their feet on releasing their findings of the investigation into the incident involving ten sailors who were captured by Iran last month — and if he doesn’t receive the report by March 1, he will hold hearings and subpoena the sailors.


“It’s an option that I do not want to exercise,” McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters as he was returning to the United States from an international security conference in Germany.

The sailors were detained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps after their two patrol boats strayed into Iranian waters on Jan. 12. U.S. officials later blamed a navigational problem.

The Americans were freed the next day after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry intervened with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, averting a diplomatic crisis just days before implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and the lifting of international sanctions on Tehran.

Iranian media broadcast videos of the detainees, including scenes in which Revolutionary Guards personnel trained weapons on the sailors as they kneeled.

The Obama administration has said the sailors’ speedy release showed the power of diplomacy and the promise of its new engagement with Iran.

The U.S. Navy had briefed McCain several times about the incident, and would continue to do so as the investigation proceeded, said one U.S. official.

Republicans have been critical of the deal with Iran, and some say the detainment of the sailors showed how little regard Iran had for the United States.

McCain said he had been told the sailors were still being debriefed, but added that he assumed that administration members were “dragging their feet” in completing an investigation into the incident, which he accused Iran of exploiting for propaganda purposes.

“I guarantee you, if they don’t have a debrief by the first of March like they said, we’ll have a hearing and we’ll subpoena. We’re not going to wait any longer,” McCain said. “We will subpoena the individuals if we have to.”

Iran has milked this incident for all it’s worth, humiliating the U.S. and boasting about how they are now more dominant in the region than America.  It would be nice to know if the sailors were, indeed, in Iranian waters when they were captured and if the official version of the story matches up with statements from the sailors.

It’s in the interest of the administration to lie about the incident if, instead of being in Iranian waters, the sailors were in international waters when they were boarded and forced to surrender at gunpoint.  Such an outrage would have threatened the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and forced Obama to retaliate in some way.

Why it’s taken more than a month for the Pentagon to issue a report on the incident is a mystery and raises serious questions about what actually happened near Farsi Island on January 12.