Did CIA Miss Chance to Save US Hostage We Killed?
Agency accused of failing to follow up on drone footage
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2015 1:00 AM CDT
This image made from video released anonymously to reporters in Pakistan on Dec. 26, 2013, shows Warren Weinstein.   (AP Photo via AP video)

(Newser) – After American al-Qaeda hostage Warren Weinstein was killed in a drone strike in January, the White House said the CIA had no idea he was at the Pakistan compound. But what the CIA did have was drone footage from months earlier of what appeared to be a heavily guarded Western hostage, and it's not clear why the agency failed to follow up on it, officials tell the Washington Post. The Post's sources say drone surveillance lapsed after the hostage was seen, meaning the CIA may have missed a chance to identify the 73-year-old aid worker, who died in the strike along with Italian hostage Giovanni Lo Porto. The sources say the matter has been the subject of "tense" exchanges in closed Senate Intelligence Committee sessions.

Weinstein's relatives—who paid his kidnappers $250,000 in 2012 in an unsuccessful effort to secure his release—say they're shocked by the news. "We believed the president when he told us that rescuing American hostages was his highest priority," his wife said in a statement. "We now feel deceived. How do I explain to my grandkids that government could have saved their grandpa, but decided not to?" She tells the Post that the "Obama administration has mishandled this entire incident." A White House spokesman says the administration takes full responsibility, but there are "specific operational details" that cannot be disclosed for national security reasons, the AP reports. (When Weinstein was kidnapped in 2011, he was days away from returning to the US.)