Does America need a 'hostage czar'?

Washington (CNN)In the wake of Thursday's revelation that a U.S. drone strike killed an American hostage in Pakistan, the Obama administration is considering a new centralized body to streamline the efforts of more than a dozen federal agencies that currently work toward recovering captured Americans.

The so-called "fusion cell" would incorporate the work of the FBI, the State Department, intelligence agencies and the White House as they seek to locate and rescue hostages, as well as their communications with hostages' families.
"This would be a working-level, operationally-focused group of federal employees that would enable a whole-of-government response to overseas hostage events," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday, describing the proposal as one of several being considered by the administration.
    On Thursday, the White House revealed Warren Weinstein, an American aid worker held by al Qaeda, had been killed by a U.S. counterterrorism mission, widely believed to have been carried out by an unmanned drone. His death came after a string of killings of American hostages by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
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    The "fusion cell" is one result of the White House's review of how the government interfaces with the families of Americans captured overseas. The process began last summer and has gathered input from the families of American hostages.
    According to a November letter from a top Pentagon official to lawmakers, Obama ordered the review to have a "specific emphasis on examining family engagement, intelligence collection and diplomatic engagement policies."
    The official, Undersecretary of Defense Christine Wormuth, wrote that the government was seeking to add "innovative and non-traditional solutions" to hostage-recovery efforts.
    Following news of Weinstein's death Thursday, his wife Elaine pinned the blame on her husband's al Qaeda captors. But she called assistance from some elements of the federal government "inconsistent and disappointing over the course of three and a half years."
    "We hope that my husband's death and the others who have faced similar tragedies in recent months will finally prompt the U.S. government to take its responsibilities seriously and establish a coordinated and consistent approach to supporting hostages and their families," Elaine Weinstein wrote.
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    Rep. John Delaney, D-Maryland, who represented Weinstein in Congress and worked to free him, told CNN Thursday that the Obama administration should name a single official to manage the hostage recovery process.
    "As a nation we need to do a lot better," he said. "We need the equivalent of a hostage czar, someone who basically has the ability to cut across all the assets we have, including our foreign partners, and bring them all to bear to find these Americans."
    Since August, four Americans have been killed while being held hostage by ISIS: Kayla Mueller, Peter Kassig, Steven Sotloff and James Foley.
    Following the release of a gruesome video showing terrorists beheading Foley, his family spoke out against the U.S. government's response, and its treatment of them while their son was being held.
    Foley's mother told CNN she was "embarrassed and appalled" by how the government had responded to her son's case.
    "I think our efforts to get Jim freed were an annoyance" to U.S. officials, Diane Foley said on CNN in the weeks following James Foley's death. She said the U.S. government should be more willing to negotiate with ISIS in order to free hostages.
    But the White House said Friday that the possibility of paying ransoms for American hostages is not part of its hostage-recovery review.
    "This is a policy that's in place because considering options like that, paying ransom or offering a concession to a terrorist organization, may result in the saving of one innocent life, but could put countless other innocent lives at greater risk," Earnest said.