Two days after an American hostage was killed during a failed rescue mission in Yemen, a member of Congress questioned on Monday the U.S. policy of not negotiating with terrorists, saying that approach leaves highly risky military operations as the only means to bring an American back alive.
In a letter obtained by McClatchy, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who’s pushed the administration to reconsider its approach to hostages, wrote that a lack of communication among the various government agencies involved when Americans are kidnapped overseas – the FBI, the State Department, the National Security Council and the intelligence community – means important information that could improve the chances of an American surviving captivity diminish.
“Presently, there is a growing disconnect between government organizations that deal with American captives in hostile areas, thereby limiting recovery options to a kinetic rescue, possible escape or defection,” Hunter wrote in the letter, which was addressed to President Barack Obama.
Pentagon officials confirmed Monday that they didn’t know that a South Africa group had been negotiating to secure the release of a South African hostage, Pierre Korkie, who died in the failed Yemeni rescue mission along with American photographer Luke Somers. The Pentagon has said both hostages were shot by their captors when the presence of the American rescue team was revealed before it had launched its attack. Korkie was to have been released Sunday, said the group, Gift of the Givers.
“Someone presumably knew, but the problem is that none of the information got to the right people. In the end, the people who made the final decision to rescue Somers did not know,” an official who’d been briefed on the attempted rescue told McClatchy. He spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he hadn’t been authorized to discuss the mission publicly.