Tags: Barack Obama | ISIS/Islamic State | War on Terrorism | hostage | rescue | review | efforts

Obama Orders Review of Policy on Freeing US Hostages

By    |   Monday, 17 Nov 2014 09:26 PM

President Barack Obama has ordered a full review of how the government handles efforts to free Americans held hostage by terrorists overseas.

In a Nov. 11 letter to California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, Christine Wormuth,  undersecretary of defense for policy, noted the urgency of the review.

"As a result of the increased frequency of hostage-taking of Americans overseas, and the recognition of the dynamic threat posted by specific terrorist groups, the President recently directed a comprehensive review of the U.S. government policy on overseas terrorist-related hostage cases, with specific emphasis on examining family engagement, intelligence collection, and diplomatic engagement policies," she wrote.

Hunter had pressed the administration on its hostage policy, criticizing a process plagued by bureaucratic infighting between government agencies that only undermined release efforts, The Hill reports.

"Based on the information I have received, I am very concerned that the U.S. government  —  including the FBI  —  is not adequately pursuing and exhausting opportunities to protect these individuals and to potentially secure their release," Hunter wrote the president Aug. 20, asking him to appoint one person to oversee hostage release efforts, The Hill reports.

The ordered review, first reported by The Daily Beast, came as Islamic State (ISIS) militants released a video claiming the beheading of American captive Peter Kassig.

Another American, a 26-year-old woman kidnapped in Syria last year while doing aid work, is still being held by the group, The Daily Beast reports.

The White House has taken heat for refusing to pay ransom for hostages, despite the pleas of families of the kidnapped, and for not following leads families have provided about where the hostages may be hidden, The Daily Beast reports.

Family members of slain American journalist James Foley, whose beheading over the summer by ISIS shocked the nation, had complained that different parts of the government were telling them different things in regard to paying a ransom, The Hill reports. They also charged the White House threatened them with prosecution if they paid a ransom, The Hill reports.

The militants also beheaded American journalist Steven Sotloff, and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning.

Recent efforts to free Islamic State group hostages have put the White House and the State Department at odds with the FBI, which has urged other ways to free Americans, including ransom payments, The Daily Beast reports.

Wormuth said the review would seek to "improve inter-agency coordination and strengthen the whole government approach."

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President Barack Obama has ordered a full review of how the government handles efforts to free Americans held hostage by terrorists overseas.
hostage, rescue, review, efforts
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2014-26-17
Monday, 17 Nov 2014 09:26 PM
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