President Obama announced the completion of the review of U.S. hostage policy on June 24. The review has been under way for over a year, and was originally announced in November 2014. In his remarks, President Obama stated that over 80 Americans have been taken hostage overseas since 9/11, and that more than half have eventually been returned to the U.S. He also recognized that some remain in captivity today.
The U.S. hostage policy has been heavily criticized by government officials, members of the U.S. military, and the families of American hostages. Among the complaints are dissatisfaction with a “dysfunctional” bureaucracy and a lack of interagency cooperation. Families of the U.S. hostages also reported feeling threatened by the agencies that had been tasked with the safe return of their loved ones.
The President announced that he had issued a new Presidential Policy Directive aimed at returning American hostages and supporting their families, signed a new Executive Order that would ensure better coordinated hostage recovery, and that the full report on the hostage policy review would be released. The President also announced that a senior diplomat will be designated as a Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs and the creation of an interagency Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell.
The Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell will include the Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, and Justice, as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Representatives from other agencies may be added as needed. The fusion cell is currently “up and running” at the FBI, and aims to improve how the government develops hostage recovery plans, tracks developments in specific cases, shares information with families, and provides information to Congress and the media.
During his remarks, the President asserted that while the hostage policy will be updated, the U.S. government will not make concessions to terrorist groups holding American hostages.
President Obama lays out the findings of the U.S. Hostage Policy Review
and the outlines of what U.S. policy will be moving forward.
For more information about the U.S. hostage policy and hostage recovery fusion cell, please follow the links below.
Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell Established, FBI
Executive Order — Hostage Recovery Activities, White House
The President Announces the Completion of the U.S. Hostage Policy Review, White House