“As a result of the increased frequency of hostage-taking of Americans overseas, and the recognition of the dynamic threat posed by specific terrorist groups, the President recently directed a comprehensive review of the US government policy on overseas terrorist-related hostage cases, with specific emphasis on examining family engagement, intelligence collection, and diplomatic engagement policies,” Christine Wormuth, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, informed Congressman Duncan Hunter in a letter last week.
The Republican lawmaker had pressed the administration on its hostage policy over the summer, criticising its process for seeking the release of hostages as wrought with bureaucratic infighting between government agencies that was undermining release efforts.
The letter first reported by The Daily Beast did not say whether the US was reconsidering its policy of not paying ransom for hostages. The review comes after complaints by family members of slain American journalist James Foley, who was beheaded over the summer by ISIS, that different parts of the US government were telling them different things in regards to paying a ransom.
In his letter, Wormuth said the review would seek to “improve inter-agency coordination and strengthen the whole of government approach,” code for putting a stop to turf wars and getting the various corners of the government on the same page.