The White House has formed a new government position, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. The job has already been filled by seasoned diplomat Jim O’Brien, who has a lot of work in front of him.
The White House posted the announcement on its official blog on Friday. The statement included praise for O’Brien from Secretary of State John Kerry.
“Jim is exactly the right person for a job that demands a high level of diplomatic experience and the ability to analyze and find effective remedies to complex problems.”
The White House made its own pitch for the new envoy, explaining that his experience as a special envoy to the Balkans and in several other senior-level diplomatic postings made him “uniquely qualified.”
The job itself is also unique.
Calls for a new government approach to Americans taken hostage abroad started after Dr. Warren Weinstein was killed in a U.S. drone attack while being held by ISIS, according to NBC News.
The Obama administration began a full review of the government’s handling of hostage situations and found a disjointed system of bureaucracy. Hostage cases were often handled by multiple agencies, enforcing different rules.
In some cases families were even threatened with criminal prosecution if they ever broke the government’s policy of never negotiating with terrorists.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Nancy Curtis received explicit threats from the State Department if she ever paid a ransom to ISIS for the return of her son Theo Padnos. In the meantime, the FBI was helping Curtis arrange the financial transaction.
The White House said the threats of prosecution and confusion never should have happened after the first results of the review came in.
According to CNN, John Kerry elaborated on the contents of the review, and the need for O’Brien’s position.
“That review recognized the need for fully coordinated action across U.S. agencies in responding to hostage situations and to the military, diplomatic, legal, and humanitarian issues that such situations generate. In his new position, Jim will be focused on one overriding goal: using diplomacy to secure the safe return of Americans held hostage overseas.”
The parents of James Foley, a journalist killed by ISIS, were some of the people frustrated with the government’s response to hostage situations. They’re now happy that there’s someone who will be accountable according to a statement.
“We are grateful for Mr. O’Brien’s willingness to serve as the Presidential Special Envoy for American hostages and hopeful that under his leadership many of our American hostages will return home.”
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