FW: in-town pool report #1

From: Dan Roberts [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2015 1:20 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP; Barnes, Desiree N. EOP
Subject: in-town pool report #1

President Obama thanked families of hostages for their recommendations as he formally announced the new US policy for communicating with hostage takers in a short scheduled statement in the Roosevelt room.

“I thank them for sharing their experiences and their ideas with our review team. In fact, many of the changes that we are announcing today are a direct result of their recommendations,” said Obama, who said he had just spent time with some of the families in “a very emotional meeting” at the White House.

“I acknowledged to them in private what I want to say publicly: that it is true that there have been times where our government, regardless of good intentions, has let them down. I promised them that we can do better,” added the president during his 13 minute address to around 20 officials, members of Congress and other “stakeholders” who were in the room with the pool.

He also said that one of the newly-announced mechanisms for co-ordinating the government response – the Fusion cell based at the FBI – was already up and running.

But the president insisted the US policy of not directly making concessions or payments to hostage takers continued.

“I firmly believe that the United States government paying ransom to terrorists risks endangering more Americans and funding the very terrorism that we are trying to stop,” he said.

“At the same time, we are clarifying that our policy does not prevent communication with hostage takers – by our government, the families of hostages or third parties who help these families,” added Obama. “When appropriate, our government may assist these families and private efforts in those communications in part to ensure the safety of those family members and the make sure they are not defrauded.”

The sombre-sounding Obama also concluded on a defiant note.

“Today my message to anyone who harms Americans is that we do not forget. Our reach is long. Justice will be done,” he said.

“My message to every American being held unjustly around the world who is fighting from the inside to survive another day - our message to their families who want to hold them once more - is that that the United States will never stop working to reunite you with your families.”

He left the room without stopping to take any questions, although your pooler did attempt to ask about his response to the latest French spying allegations - asking if he would be apologising to president Hollande.

A lunch lid has been called, aside from the briefing, until 2.15pm



Dan Roberts

Washington Bureau Chief
The Guardian

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