IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

White House Considers Team to Handle Hostage Situations After Death of Warren Weinstein

The "fusion cell" would integrate the work being done by a number of federal agencies to ensure the safe return of hostages.
/ Source: NBC News

The White House is considering assembling of a group of officials who would be responsible for communicating with families of American citizens held hostage abroad, a spokesman said Friday.

Spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House was in the early stages of considering such a team, which could include the Defense Department, State Department and FBI.

On Thursday, the White House announced that an American held by al Qaeda, Dr. Warren Weinstein, and an Italian hostage had been accidentally killed in an American drone strike.

Weinstein's mother, Elaine, said that assistance to the family from some parts of the government "was inconsistent and disappointing over the course of three and a half years."

The "fusion cell" would integrate work being done by federal agencies to ensure the safe return of hostages, and would inform families of hostages about what is being done to rescue their loved ones, Earnest said.

"There is a premium of clear, direct, regular, reliable information" when dealing with hostage situations, he said. "The effort is to try and streamline that communication handling."

The White House seeking advice from families on the proposal, Earnest said.

A senior Pentagon official told NBC News on Thursday that U.S. special operations had not tried to rescue Weinstein or the Italian hostage, Giovanni Lo Porto, because there wasn't sufficient information about where they were being held.


— Elisha Fieldstadt