tv Inside Story Al Jazeera July 22, 2015 5:30am-6:01am EDT
they get the safety equipment. they are the backburn. >> despite the risks workers don't believe the situation will change and they seem resigned to doing the dirty work there's a lot of opinion, lots of background on all the day's stories on the website. world, foreigners click americans have gone to help -- including americans have gone to help and report on events and been kidnapped. they have been pawns by political extremists or garden variety extreme is who want a big payday. when americans were killed by their captors or died in areas meant to free them. life and death decisions is tonight's "inside story."
welcome to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. the countries vary. the kidnappers have a wide range of motives and the hot tadges have --hostages have varied. some escaped some were murdered by their captors, others killed by military efforts to free them. through all these variations the u.s. government's long standing policy has remained consistent. al jazeera am lisa stark takes a closeer look . >> for decades, the rise of terrorism, the u.s. has had the same official policy, when it comes to americans taken hostage overseas. >> the u.s. policy is rooted in
tradition and doctrine. which the premise is, no concessions. no trades, no payments. >> reporter: but in the last year the horrific beheadings of two american journalists and an aid worker by a group known as the islamic state and the deaths of other americans held captive have created and uproar. the administration is now reviewing its hostage policy including how it coordinates recovery efforts and communicates with families. >> the review is not reconsidering the long established u.s. policy of not make concessions to terrorist organizations. >> reporter: the review was prompted in part by harsh criticism from the family of james foley one of the journalists who was beheaded. his family accused the u.s. of not doing enough to free foley, of failing okeep them informed and threatening them with prosecution if they paid a ransom.
>> i pray it will challenge our government to look deeply within and find a way to protect courageous americans. >> reporter: other families have been just as critical warren winestein was mistakenly killed this year by a u.s. drone strike in pakistan. his wife w.h.o. spoke to us a year ago when her husband was still alive was frustrated. >> i don't care if they negotiate with terrorists. and anybody who is going to prevent my husband from coming back, because they don't want to negotiate with terrorists, should come and walk a mile in my shoes. >> and just last week an army special force he officer told congress that government hostage recovery efforts are dysfunctional with little coordination between all the agents involved.
>> am i right, is the system broken? leashes upon layers of bureaucracy hid the extent of our failure from our leaders. >> dane eggley believes there is a system in place to coordinate hostage recovery efforts. eggley is as well as a firm believer in current u.s. policy. paying ransom or making deals he says will only fund terrorism. >> what are we doing to the broader enterprise for the collective public good? >> reporter: so in a sense the individual has to take a back seat to what's good for the country? >> it's the way a democratic democracy works, it's the way our country is designed. >> eggley says no one goes to the extent the u.s. does to try to rescue its citizens. but clearly the white house
believes it is time to take another look at how the u.s. handles these heartbreaking situations. lisa stark, al jazeera washington. >> joining me now is maryland senator ben cardon. senator grade to have you with us. do you support a reformation of the administration's policy dealing with the kidnapping of americans overseas? >> first you will know a marylander warren winestein was killed. it was a tragedy. i had an opportunity to visit with the family on a few occasions. first and foremost, the united states needs to have all its priorities in place, it's got to have a high priority coordinated efforts among the different agencies involved and direct contact with the system.
we have to understand also that negotiating with terrorists can be counterproductive. we understand that. we have a policy well understood in america about negotiating with terrorists. on the other hand we know that there will be efforts made by the family and we should be mindful of those efforts and we shouldn't interfere with legitimate efforts by families found in these circumstances. >> the widow of your constituent constituent, warren wine stein considered the be efforts inconsistent. >> the lessons learned from that circumstance is that we need one person responsible for coordination of these strategies. when we have a hostage involved we have the fbi, department of justice involved, white house
involved and other agencies involved. we need to have one person that is solely focused in getting that person home. that is the lesson learned from the warren winesteen situation. >> paid the ransoms, shuttled moan through third parties and secured their love one's freedom. are americans targets in a dinner way? and thus have a different approach? >> well, there's no easy answer to that question. we know that if you accommodate those who are using these tactics that it may encourage them to be more aggressive in taking hostages. so we know that there is a down side to cooperation. and meeting the demands in order to get a safe return. we also know that in some cases, the funds are transferred and you still don't have a safe return. so i think it's not as simple to
say it puts americans more at risk. in some respects i think it puts us less at risk. on the other hand, we have to be mindful that when these episodes occur we have to use all of our resources to try to bring that person home safely. >> is the administration open to suggestions, if you pick up your phone is someone on the other end listening to what you have to say? is that new policy still under formulation? >> it's clear to me and i think we'll be hearing from the u.s. government on this, that they have to have a better way for families to be able to coordinate, get information, and get legitimate response to their questions. it has to be done in a more effective way. my expectation is that you'll hear the administration coming out with those policies. i have legislation in capitol hill that would do the same, that would make sure we have a coordinated effort and a single point of contact. that's certainly needed and was not as clear in the winestein
situation. >> u.s. senator ben cardon much marylandon ofmaryland joined us. good to see you senator. >> thank you. harrowing stories of mistreatment including fm and mental physicaland mental abuse. life and death decisions tonight's "inside story." >> just because you're pregnant don't mean your life's ended. >> intense pressure. >> i don't know if this whole dance thing will work out. >> tough realities. >> we call chicago "chiraq" because we have more killers. >> life changing moments.
>> shut the cam --. >> from oscar winning director alex gibney. a hard hitting look at the real issues facing american teens. the incredible journey continues. "on the edge of eighteen". story." i'm ray suarez. the long standing u.s. policies for dealing with hostage takers often involves life and death decisions, america's policies and the proposals to change is what we're looking at this time on the program.
we're joined by ray hallems, held captive for ten months and wrote about his experience, in his book "buried alive." thank you for joining us ray. first what were you up to when you were taken? >> i was a civilian contractor when i was in iraq, helping build the base he for military that were coming over there so they have places to live when they actually arrive. >> there were lots of americans working in iraq at the time. before you went over were you given any guidance the the about the policy and what to do if someone tried to stay you? >> not official. when i first went over there there were over 100,000 american civilian contractors that went in. it was a general idea we knew it was a risk. it's become more formal now that it's required for people to be given some kind of training or
briefing on what their risk might be. >> were you hurt at all when you were taken? >> well, the day i was kidnapped, i wasn't. i mean, being held for 311 days, you know, there were injuries, and then poor food, mall nutrition over time, it became critical toward the end before i was rescued. >> were you aware of efforts to get you out? did your captors talk to you about the situation between them and the u.s. government? >> no. my captors didn't tell me anything. i couldn't -- didn't have any papers, didn't have any radio, didn't have any television. and they would never talk to me about what was going on. so i mean, i was former military. i knew that the military and the
government would be looking for me. but i never had any information from the gang members on what was happening. >> so just over ten months in, there's a raid on the compound where you're being held. there's stunning video of the actual rescue. did you even realize what was happening when it first went down? >> not at first, because that morning, i had woken up and i layered some helicopters around lunch time. and it wasn't unusual for me to hear helicopters because i could hear them flying over from time to time. but on this particular day, they sounded like the helicopters were landing on the house i was being held in, which they practically were. and then i heard a lot of running, yelling, and i didn't know exactly what was going on until the soldier jumped down in the little underground room i
was in and pointed at me and said, are you roy? >> so you realized that was it. you've had a lot of -- >> yes. >> -- think about it sense and i am sure you thought about it a lot when you were being held. did the united states have any obligation to you, as an individual mairnl citizen, american citizen in a conflict zone to make efforts to get you out? >> well, i think in a war zone like that , it depends on what you call obligation. i mean i think that people who are there are going to want to help you just like they would want to help anybody else. i mean here you are. you are taken by a terrorist gang. and prior to to that that you were trying to help the u.s. forces in their work. so i think they feel they owe you something in trying to help you get out of the situation
you're in. >> but luckily, in the case of your operation, it went off correctly, you were extracted from the position, you were brought home safely. other americans haven't been so lucky and i'm sure you've looked on with some concern at some of those raids. >> yes. in my particular case, i believe i'm the single american who, civilian who was rescued in iraq. i know in toart other cases it hasn't gone well. but these special forces teams go out -- they go out many times. in my particular case special forces went out on several raids they were aware of, they thought they knew who i was, i didn't happen to be there, but on this last raid, for me, i was there. and they did the same thing for
other american hostages trying to rescue them. >> do you think the united states should pay ransom for people like yourself to get them home safely? >> well, that's a hard one. when you're there, you're the one that's tied up. and you're the one who's not going to be released. it puts a different perspective on it. but for the families, i'm sure they do. because this just tears families apart. but on a national basis and a national policy, i don't think you can. because if you start paying, or you start negotiating and straying things with these gangs, they're just they're just going to want more. when i was kidnapped i was held with a french person and romanian and russian, and their
ransoms were paid. and this gang was specifically looking for those nationals because they knew they could get money right away from those countries. once you start down that road it's just never ending. >> i think your former answer sums the difficulty of this. as an individual, as a human being with connections to people at home you know are worrying about you, whatever it takes i'm sure it would be okay to get you out of there but then when you consider it as national policy you have a different answer. that's really a dilemma, isn't it? >> yes, well, that is, you're right that's the dilemma of how do you try to do something like this? and work out on both sides? but i mean i think if the families are able to do something, you know let them do it. don't stand in the way of the families. but on a national policy, i don't believe you can do it. >> roy
hallems, it's been ten years. how are you doing today? >> doing good. doing good. just living my life and going on to the future and enjoying my grand kids. >> well, great to have you with us. thanks for joining us and for being willing to share your story with us. the federal government is pushed in all kinds of directions by the continued captivity of any american hostage. how does the be country's own goals in the fight against the groups that take the hostages? life and death decisions. it's the "inside story." stay with us. >> i'll have two or three puffs and i'll already have a nicotine buzz. >> a popular smoking alternative. >> we have to learn have to learn more about electronic
cigarettes. >> but could vaping be just as dangerous? >> what are you really taking in? >> we don't know what chemicals are in these things. >> techknow's team of experts show you how the miracles of science... >> i'm standing in a tropical windstorm. >> can affect and surprise us. >> wow, some of these are amazing. >> techknow - where technology meets humanity.
>> welcome back to niosh. tonight we're "insidestory." criminal gans and a grab bag of antiamerican groups have ended in both life and death in recent months. official american policy has been to refuse to pay ransom in part on the theory that it endangers other americans overseas even more. victims' families have complained about lack of consultation. how would it work, in a change
in policy? i'm joined by dane eggley, dane welcome to the program. maybe you could walk us through all the different factors that you are balancing when you try to come up with a response in the case of a specific hostage taking. >> sure, it's good to be with you ray. it's a complex formula but also fairly simple. the policy is rooted in tradition and experience with hostages being taken and going back to world war i. that if you reward bad behavior you're going to see that behavior continue to take place. certainly in the short term with the families it is completely understandable and you just heard it from ray hallems that we want to do everything possible to get them out. every country looks at an
interagency sooution solution to get them out. what's in the public good, you can't pay ransoms. you can't legitimize them, giving them cold hard cash recognition, recruiting and success in the eyes of our enemies. you constant cave in. and we've learned this the hard way. we've learned it the hard way, ray, by paying ransoms, by allowing families and you're not dealing with a trusted business pattern at the other end. so they're not obligated to release your loved one or give them to you. so the cost-benefit analysis the risk assessment, is based on those fundamental principles. >> if i understand you correctly, you are saying not only should the united states not pay ransom but the families should even be constrained from making their own deals or going through third parties? >> right. the current law is that if it's a foreign terrorist
organization, the families cannot pay ransom. if it's a criminal organization nonterrorist designated, they can. but fundamentally, the advice that we would give is that it's not in the best interests of the public good. because all you do is raise the bounty on the american citizens. so you may get a short term gain for your family member. but it creates long term pain for the missionaries, the tourists the journalists and even the military members ray that are out there. it is an ill illusion of safety. we are going to do things far more covert behind the scenes and we are going to do things to attempt to get them out.
jessica climple jessica lynch, and other things we do covertly with special forces even though we don't openly pay ransoms. >> as you're thinking out loud about a strategy inside the teams it teams, i'm sure the calculus, to secure one person, there's a moral calculus to this. how does that happen in military circles? how do you figure out whether it's worth risking ten lives to save one or two? >> that's a great question. i think what i'm most proud of from my military service and civilian sector as well, the united states goes to great lengths to rescue hostages that are being held, of not only american citizens but our coalition members. i can state unequivocally, that we've gone into the triple
canopy jungle of colombia to rescue our members, get them out across afghanistan, nigeria, iraq, whatever it is, above our own interests, not just people not just special forces but we have national technical means and we have other assets. so although it maybe looks like we're not as dif because the more popular way of dealing with it is just simply pay the ransom. in some ways that's the easy way out. it's really wiki avoiding the tough issue. when you deny them the money they desperately want, when you give them attention of special force he and other capabilities that they don't want. i have some ideas we should consider as we move forward and reevaluate the policy as well. >> very quickly before we go one thing they want to tighten up in the new policy is the liaison with the families.
is that an area where there are shortcomings? >> absolutely always room for improvement. we can's do better in compassion for the families. the foley, kayla mueller's mueller's family, the sotloffs. we ask apply lessons learned and always do better. we can't always share as much as we'd like to but certainly the state department and fbi liaison should look at ways to sharpen the sword. >> dan eggley was the white house hostage advisor from 2004, e-to 2006. i'll be back for final statements of be hostages and getting them back alive.
an american citizen head to a conflict zone worked as a human terrible volunteer and get kidnapped, who's responsible for your plight? seems harsh to say you are. you get very little help as countries fight it out. it seems obvious to see, what difference does that make. we already know they're bad guys to begin. they kidnapped you. but if you are going to assign responsibility to the u.s. state department where does its obligation to you begin and end? another arm of the government the department of justice, may be act of war against the very country that took you. wider strategies at play. your suffering real as it is
doesn't figure into pentagon strategy. should it? how many americans' lives should we put at risk to get you out of a hidden cell somewhere, ten 20, 30? in the overall calculus of war is it right? is it fair? is it acceptable? if three people die saving you? i'm grateful that i don't have to make these calls. maybe you go back and forth in your own head about the right answer. but don't for a second under estimate the moral challenge the risk and the grief, when grief when it all ends badly. i'm suarez, thanks ray suarez. thanks for joining "inside story."
checking to see announcer: this is al jazeera. hello, welcome to the newshour. i'm martine dennis in doha. coming up in the next 60 minutes - iraqi soldiers have been killed in fallujah, in two i.s.i.l. blasts - live in baghdad. >> counting the votes. burundi awaits the results of the presidential elections dismissed by many as illegitimate. making the rounds to ease tensions in