Obama orders review of US hostage policy

by Kristina Wong - The Hill  |  published on November 18, 2014

President Obama has ordered a review of how the U.S. handles the taking of hostages by overseas terrorist groups, according to letter by Christine Wormuth, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for policy.

“As a result of the increased frequency of hostage-taking of Americans overseas, and the recognition of the dynamic threat posed 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,” Wormuth wrote on Nov. 11 in a letter to Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.).

Hunter had pressed the administration on its hostage policy over the summer, criticizing its process for seeking the release of hostages as wrought with bureaucratic infighting between government agencies, that was undermining release efforts.

The letter did not say whether the U.S. was reconsidering its policy of not paying ransom for hostages.

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