Thursday, June 25, 2015

Obama administration agrees not to interfere with private ransom payments to overseas enemies


President Obama has signed an executive order setting up a mechanism to deal with families of overseas hostages, and indicating that family members or private companies will not be prosecuted for making private ransom payments.  However, the federal government will maintain a policy of not paying ransom for American hostages, even aid workers or journalists, overseas.  The USA Today story by Kevin Jackson and Kevin Johnson is here
The most obvious concern would involve conflict zones like Syria and Iraq.  But in theory the problem could occur anywhere.  In 1978, EDS financed a rescue of two of its own employees from Iran. The problem takes on a different flavor if the target is a civilian that did not know he or she was even near a conflict area, for example in a terror attack well within a western country.  Some European governments will make payments to get people released.
A scenario can occur where there a public appeals to raise money to release individuals, and these might happen online through various websites.  I do not respond to these, nor could I expect this to ever be done for me.  Personally, I believe you cannot negotiate with terrorists or criminals.  We are all combatants sometimes whether we want to be or not.  Maybe that’s a taste of Israel.  I did grow up with the draft.


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