New hostage strategy to follow interagency review

Officials recently announced that an interagency review of U.S. hostage policy will be completed this spring. The review has been under way for nearly a year, and was originally announced in November 2014.

The accidental killing of two hostages, American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto, has put additional pressure on the administration to revise the hostage policy, which has been criticized by both government officials and the families of American hostages.

Elaine Weinstein thanked her congressional delegation and the FBI for their “relentless efforts to free [her] husband,” but noted that “the assistance we received from other elements of the U.S. government was inconsistent and disappointing.” California Representative Duncan Hunter echoed Weinstein’s remarks, saying that the death of Warren Weinstein “is further evidence of the failures in communication and coordination between government agencies tasked with recovering Americans in captivity.” Earlier this spring, Hunter introduced a bill calling for increased interagency coordination in U.S. hostage cases.

Maryland Representative John Delaney also announced that he plans to introduce legislation that would create a panel led by a “hostage czar” who would be able to facilitate greater cooperation between U.S. government agencies in hostage events. According to Delaney, “We need the equivalent of a hostage czar, someone who basically has the ability to cut across all the assets we have, including our foreign partners, and bring them all to bear to find these Americans.”

Possible changes to the U.S. hostage policy include the creation of a fusion cell dedicated to recovering American hostages. The fusion cell would be comprised of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the intelligence community, and the Departments of State and Defense. The fusion cell would also communicate with the hostages’ families.

The updated policy would not alter the U.S. refusal to offer ransom or other concessions for the release hostages.

For more information about the review of the hostage policy, please follow the links below.
After drone killings, pressure for a new hostage strategy, Associated Press
Does America need a “hostage czar”?, CNN

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