Eliminating a 200-year old practice, the Obama administration announced June 24 that the federal government will begin to communicate with terrorists and terror groups overseas who are currently holding up to 30 Americans hostage in some of the worst violent outbursts the Middle East has seen in decades.
While the Obama administration will continue to implement its own “no concessions” policy, the government will allow the families of American hostages to work with the government in communicating with terrorists and possibly paying ransom, CNN reported.
The policy was created after the administration spent months interviewing families and conducting research to find the best possible way to allow families to be involved in the negotiating process. In the new plan, a “fusion cell” was created which will effectively increase communication between the government and families involved, a problem that has angered many victims’ families in the past.
More importantly, the White House will no longer prosecute those who wish to pay ransom to terror groups holding their family members’ as hostages. Prior to the most recent updates, the federal government could prosecute those that paid monetary sums to criminals overseas.
“No family of an American hostage has ever been prosecuted for paying ransom for their loved one. The last thing we should ever do is to add to a family’s pain with threats like that,” President Barack Obama said at the White House when he announced the new status.
“The bottom line is this: When it comes to how our government works to recover hostages, we are changing how we do business,” he added.
Obama also made it clear that the new rules are in response to comments that families have repeatedly addressed to the commander-in-chief in person.
“If my family were at risk obviously I would move heaven and Earth to get those loved ones back. I’m making it clear that our top priority it the safe and rapid recovery of American hostages,” the President continued.
“Many of the families told us at times that they felt like an afterthought. That ends today,” he added.
As for the government using taxpayer dollars to pay for ransoms, Obama said that would continue to remain off limits out of fear of incentivizing terrorists to kidnap more Americans, the Associated Press noted.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio was one of the more vocal critics of the new rule, stating his fear of putting more Americans in danger.
“I’ve not seen the report nor have I seen an analysis of it, but we have had a policy in the United States for over 200 years of not paying ransom and not negotiating with terrorists and the concern that I have is by lifting that long held principle you could be endangering more Americans here and overseas,” Boehner said.