US to Review How We Handle Hostage Cases

'Increased frequency of hostage-taking' abroad spurs effort
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2014 7:30 AM CST
Under Fire, Obama Orders Review of How US Handles Hostages
In this Nov. 7, 2014, file photo, President Barack Obama speaks to the media.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Amid ISIS' continued onslaught against American hostages and widespread criticism of the White House's response, President Obama has ordered a review of policy in handling hostage situations abroad, the Wall Street Journal reports. The move comes "as a result of the increased frequency of hostage-taking of Americans overseas," defense official Christine Wormuth wrote to Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter last week, as per the Daily Beast. She pointed to "a comprehensive review of the US government policy on overseas terrorist-related hostage cases," noting that the Pentagon will "leverage all feasible means to secure the release of US persons held abroad."

The review, she added, will include "specific emphasis on examining family engagement, intelligence collection, and diplomatic engagement policies." The Daily Beast highlights the issue of "family engagement" following criticism by hostages' families over the White House's handling of cases thus far; the family of journalist James Foley, for instance, told the president the US had "failed" Foley, according to reports. Hunter, who had written to the administration after Foley was beheaded by ISIS militants in August, says the review "is long overdue and the president is right to consider what can be done better for Americans held in hostile areas." He adds: "I hope it translates into something meaningful." (More President Obama stories.)

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