Obama’s passive response to beheadings: Review hostage negotiation policy

Obama’s passive response to beheadings: Review hostage negotiation policy
Source: The Daily Beast

Following the latest round of beheadings by the Islamic State, including that of American aid worker Peter Kassig, it was revealed that President Barack “No Drama” Obama ordered a review of U.S. policy of hostage negotiations.

The Daily Beast reported:

President Obama has ordered a top-to-bottom review of how the U.S. government tries to win the release of Americans held hostage by terrorist groups overseas, The Daily Beast has learned. The review, which will include a specific emphasis on how the U.S. treats hostages’ family members, follows criticism that current hostage-negotiation operations are plagued by bureaucratic infighting and a lack of leadership, particularly by the White House.

The general rule has always been to refuse to give in to the ransom demands of terrorist-kidnappers. This was especially made clear by then-President Richard Nixon in 1973 following the kidnapping of two U.S. diplomats by the terrorist organization Black September.

“As far as the United States as a government giving in to blackmail demands, we cannot do so and we will not do so,” Nixon said at a press conference, according to The Hill, which reported:

Paying large ransoms to terrorist kidnappers — whether the source of funds is public or private — finances further terrorist operations. The kidnappers of James Foley reportedly sought a ransom of $132 million, among other demands. That is the equivalent of several hundred thousand AK-47s at black market prices or more than 200 times what it cost al Qaeda to carry out the 9/11 attacks. One can only imagine the uproar if it were revealed that the United States had paid millions of dollars to the group it currently regards as the most serious global threat to U.S. national security.

This hard-nosed restriction was relaxed somewhat, according to Fox News, which reported:

A U.S. policy on hostage negotiations signed by President Bush in 2002 states that ransoms can be paid if officials believe doing so would help gain intelligence about terror groups, but can not be paid for the sole purpose of freeing an American.

Although the White House only confirmed the existence of its review of hostage negotiation policy Monday, it turns out that it’s been ongoing for months.

The review actually began during the summer, in response to “the increasing number of U.S. citizens taken hostage by terrorist groups overseas and the extraordinary nature of recent hostage cases,”National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey told Fox News.

It’s now almost winter.

Perhaps the president should take a lesson from one of his predecessors-in-office — Ronald W. Reagan.

On April 5, 1986, three people–including two American servicemen–were killed by a bomb placed in a popular West Berlin discotheque. The explosion also injured approximately 230 others–79 of them members of the U.S. military–many of them left permanently disabled.

Ten days later, when it became apparent that the Libyan government was responsible for the bomb’s placement, Reagan ordered a retaliatory strike on Tripoli and Benghazi.

He engaged in no discussion, no hand-wringing, no committee formation to review current policy. He just acted.

And that’s how you deal with terrorists. You use the only language they understand–ther point of the sword.

Michael Dorstewitz

Michael Dorstewitz

Michael Dorstewitz is a recovering Michigan trial lawyer and former research vessel deck officer. He has written extensively for BizPac Review.

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