Fox News stoked fears that the Obama administration's new policy to allow families of hostages to engage in private ransom negotiations will endanger Americans and encourage kidnappings, despite previously criticizing the White House for its policy preventing families from paying ransoms.
Obama Administration Announces New Policy Allowing Families Of Foreign-Held Hostages To Privately Negotiate Ransoms
Obama Administration Will Allow Families Of Hostages To Negotiate Ransom Without Threat Of Prosecution. The Obama administration announced a new policy directive June 24 mandating that the government “will no longer threaten criminal prosecution of the families of American hostages who are held abroad by groups like the Islamic State if they try to pay ransom for the release of their loved ones,” according to The New York Times:
The change is part of a broad overhaul he is ordering to fix what the administration has acknowledged is a broken policy on United States captives, senior administration officials said.
In a presidential directive and an executive order enshrining the changes, Mr. Obama also plans to make it clear that while he is keeping a longstanding federal prohibition against making concessions to those who take hostages, the government can communicate and negotiate with captors holding Americans or help family members seeking to do so in order to ensure their safe return. [The New York Times, 6/23/15]
Justice Department: We Have Never Enforced No-Ransom Policy. On June 24, the Justice Department released its own statement noting that it “has never used the material support statute to prosecute a hostage's family or friends for paying a ransom for the save return of their loved one.” [Whitehouse.gov, Office of the Press Secretary, 6/24/15; Justice.gov, 6/24/15]
Fox News Hyped Fears That The New Policy Will Endanger Americans And Encourage Kidnappers
Fox's Ed Henry Suggests Obama's Directive “Encourages More Kidnapping And Endangers Men And Women In Uniform.” On the June 24 edition of Fox & Friends, Ed Henry suggested that the Obama administration's new hostage policy “encourages more kidnapping” and “endangers our men and women in uniform because if, all of the sudden, you are negotiating with terrorists and say, okay, the family of an American who unfortunately, tragically, has been kidnapped, if you allow them to come up with a million dollars, two million dollars, and then they get freed, that could encourage ISIS to kidnap more people.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/24/15]
Fox News Contributor: White House Hostage Policy Change “Increases The Odds” Of Kidnappings. On the June 24 edition of America's Newsroom, Fox News contributor Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer said that changing the policy “increases the odds of U.S. citizens being captured and held hostage. Any time you essentially endorse something, you get more of it. Any time you actually do something like this, you're going to actually put lives of U.S. citizens in danger.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 6/24/15]
Fox Host Melissa Francis: New Hostage Policy “Really Encourages Hostage-Taking.” On the June 24 edition of Outnumbered, Host Melissa Francis said the new hostage policy is “like hanging out an 'open for business sign'” because it “really encourages hostage-taking.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 6/24/15]
But Previously, Fox News Figures Slammed The Obama Administration For Banning Private Hostage Negotiations
Megyn Kelly Lamented That The U.S. Government Prevented Families From Paying Ransoms Themselves. On the September 11, 2014 edition of The Kelly File, host Megyn Kelly interviewed John Foley, father of hostage James Foley, and lamented that U.S. government policy prevented families from paying ransom privately in a hostage situation (emphasis added):
FOLEY: No, no. We're appalled by the situation. You know, it went past not doing everything they could into -- they were actually in a penance they got in our way. And that's what really you know, bothers me to the core. You know, we were -- I was specifically threatened by the Department of State about, you know, raising funds towards, you know, ransom demands for my brother. You know, we were smart enough to look past it, but it slowed us down, we lost a lot of time trying to regroup.
KELLY: Wait, they didn't want you to do it privately? It's one thing that the American government won't do it. That's been our long standing policy. But they didn't want you to do anything privately? [Fox News, The Kelly File, 9/11/14, via Nexis]
Fox's Geraldo Rivera: Government Threat Of Prosecution For Paying Ransom Is “Really Low Down And Dirty.” On the September 12, 2014 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Fox contributor Geraldo Rivera said the U.S. government's policy of preventing the families of hostages from raising money for ransom was “really low down and dirty. And it's a symbol really of ... arrogance” (emphasis added):
RIVERA: Well, I certainly relate to that, brother. If it were my brother, God forbid, I would do everything I could to negotiate with anybody I could to save his life. I totally relate to this family. The country has a policy that the nation doesn't negotiate with terrorists. That's the headline. Of course the headline is a lie also. We negotiate with terrorists. We have at various times throughout our history. When you have a war -- a declared war against someone like the United States against Germany or Japan - you have prisoners of war, you have prisoner exchanges.
BOLLING: Fair enough. But talk about what Foley's brother said right there. He was specifically threatened by the State Department if he were going to go ahead and raise money to try to get his brother back.
RIVERA: I'm not going to defend that. I totally believe him. I think that the bureaucracy is blind.
BOLLING: Can you imagine that though?
RIVERA: I think it's really low down and dirty. And it's a symbol really of the arrogance, I think, of the yuppies that they have in the State Department.
BOLLING: Right. Josh Earnest was asked about that today, by the way, at the White House. He kind pushed it over to the Department of Justice and asked them about that. They kind of denied it but man, here's a young guy going, 'I wanted my brother back. I wanted to raise money, we were going to do it and the state pushed back.' [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 9/12/14, via Nexis]
Sean Hannity: “Who Are We To Stop” Families Of Hostages From Negotiating Ransoms? On the September 15, 2014 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity suggested that families of hostages should be allowed to privately pay ransoms without the threat of prosecution from the government (emphasis added):
HANNITY: Last question. Diane Foley, the mother of James Foley, in an interview reported by the UPI, actually said that her and her family were intimidated three times and they were forbidden from going to the media, and if they attempted to raise money to pay off ransom for their son, and that they were threatened with prosecution three times. Now, this becomes a delicate issue. I don't think the United States should be involved in it, but if they wanted to individually do that, who are we to stop them? [Fox News, Hannity, 9/15/14, via Nexis]