President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the U.S. government had let down the families of Americans held hostage by terrorists, and he outlined new policies that could make it easier for those families to pay ransom to help free their loved ones.
"These families have already suffered enough and they should never feel ignored or victimized by their own government," Obama said as he detailed the results of a six-month review of U.S. hostage policy.
The review's conclusions aim to streamline and improve communications with families, who have sharply criticized the government for providing them with confusing and contradictory information. Some families have complained about threats of criminal prosecution if they seek to pay ransom to terrorists - threats Obama said would end.
"The last thing we should ever do is add to a family's pain with threats like that," Obama said.
Brian Michael Jenkins, Senior Advisor to the President of the Rand Corporation think tank and one of the nation's leading experts on terrorism and homeland security
Brigitte Nacos, journalist, author, and adjunct professor of political science at Columbia University; Recently authored "Terrorism and Counterterrorism" (Pearson) and "Mass-Mediated Terrorism" (Rowman & Littlefield)