From an editorial in the Los Angeles Times on Thursday:
President Obama this week promised that families who pay ransom to hostage-takers wouldn’t be prosecuted by the government under laws against providing material support for terrorism.
Obama’s promise that the government would make it easier for families to communicate (and by implication negotiate) with hostage-takers is problematic. That is in tension with his reiteration of the long-standing U.S. policy of refusing to make concessions to terrorists. If the government makes it easier for families to pay ransom, that inevitably will make the taking of hostages more attractive.
We share the president’s sympathy for the families who believed their government was unhelpful when they tried to win the release of their loved ones.
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But refraining from prosecution is different from creating conditions in which families will be encouraged to explore the possibility of paying ransom.