Wallace House Presents “Held Hostage: Ensuring the Safe Return of Americans Held Captive Abroad”


>>I think we still
have some people in, but in the interest of, coming
in, but in the interest of time, I’d like to get started. I’m Lynette Clemetson
and I’m the Director of Wallace House here at
the University of Michigan. Thank you all for coming today. Especially for coming on a
beautifully sunny day in fall when you could’ve easily
been lured outside. I really appreciate seeing
so many of you in this room. Wallace House, as
most of you know, is a home for journalism
here on the campus of the University of Michigan. We have two programs, the
Knight Wallace Fellowship for Journalists which brings
accomplished journalists here to the university each year for an academic year
of immersive study. Our fellows now, for this year, a class of 17 remarkable
journalists is now into their second month
in the fellowship. And, they’re here in the room. Some of them will have
greeted you outside. Our other program is
the Livingston Awards for young journalists, a
program that awards excellence in reporting by journalists
under the age of 35, excellence in local
reporting, national reporting, and international reporting. And, we have this program,
Wallace House Presents, where we convene the public
in journalism conversations, and conversations about issues
informing our times built around journalists and the
stories they tell and trying to create greater understanding
and engagement about the role of journalism in creating an
informed and engaged society. This event that we’re having
today we planned months ago. And, as it turns out, we have
news breaking today that relates to the subject of this. So we’re going to start at
the beginning by dealing with some of the news today. But, first I want to
give some ground rules for the conversation. All of you should
have question cards. And, if you don’t have on,
you can raise your hand, someone will bring one to you. We have our colleagues
at Wallace House who will be looking and moving
around through the event. And, if you do that,
if you raise your hand, someone will make sure
you get a question card. They will be gathering them as
the conversation goes along. We have two Knight Wallace
fellows here, Eliot Woods and Nily Budu who will be
collecting those questions and presenting them to our
guests when it comes time for an open discussion after
our moderated discussion. We also live stream
all of our events because we want broad
engagement. And, so there are people
following us online. I want to thank them for
their participation as well. For those of you following us
digitally through live stream and for those of you in
the room who may not want to use the question cards,
you can tweet your comments and questions to us using
the hash tag wallacehouse. And, we will make sure
that your comments and questions are part
of the discussion. Here, for anybody using Twitter,
our various handles and ways to follow us, the
individual names are of secondary importance. The most important thing to have
on your question so that it gets to us is hash tag wallacehouse. And, we usually get quite a bit of engagement through
social media. And, so I appreciate
those of you who will be joining us via
live stream and Twitter. We are going to start,
before we go into the moderated discussion,
I assume that those of you who are interested in Wallace
House events also follow the news closely and know
that, this morning, there was an announcement
from the president about withdrawing troops
from Northern Syria. The event that we’re having
today, and all of our events at Wallace House, we plan our
events because we want to talk about topical issues,
things that are timely. And, the topic of this
conversation may seem, on the surface, as if
it is about something that happened in the past. It might be easy to think
we’re here to talk about policy that was born from something
that happened in 2014. But, in fact, the
policy decisions that we make have active, potentially very
dangerous implications for people still being held
hostage and for the Foley family who is with us here today. Our moderator for our talk
today is Margaux Ewen, an Executive Director of the
James W Foley Foundation. I would like to invite
Margaux up to the podium and also Diane Foley, the
mother of James Foley. And, we’re going to start
allowing them, by allowing them to respond to today’s news.>>Thank you so much Lynette
and thank you to the University of Michigan and Wallace
House for hosting this event. I just want to introduce Diane
Foley, our Founder and President of the James W Foley Legacy
Foundation, which advocates for the freedom of all
Americans held hostage abroad and promotes journalist’s
safety worldwide. She’s going to read a
statement from our foundation on today’s news of the U.S. pull
back from Northeastern Syria.>>Thank you. Thank you. The James W Foley Legacy
Foundation is deeply concerned by the U.S. Goverment’s
announced plans to abruptly pull back its
forces in Northeastern Syria, a region where more than
10,000 ISIS fighters and their families are
currently being detained. Among those in Syrian
Democratic forces custodies, custody are two British
Jihadists, Alexander Kodey and El Shafee Elsheikh who
allegedly were responsible for the captivity,
torture, and execution of four Americans in 2014. Our son, James Foley,
Journalist Steven Sotloff, aid worker Peter Kassig, and
aid worker Kayla Mueller. Holding these men accountable for their horrific
crimes is a critical part of the hostage policy
reforms that were made after these innocent
Americans were murdered. These reforms not only aim
to make the safe return of Americans held hostage a
national priority, but also, to insure that those responsible for hostage taking would be held
accountable for their crimes as a critical deterrent. The pull back of U.S. Forces
will not only seriously impede American family’s efforts
to extradite these men to stand trial in
U.S. Federal Court, but also presents a grave
security risk should any of these prisoners
escape custody. As the Syrian Democratic forces
now prepare to maintain control without critical
U.S. assistance. We hostage families have been
waiting years for these suspects to be brought to justice. And, they had hopes of seeing
them prosecuted as early as the end of this year. This decision sends
a message to those who take our citizens hostage that they will not
face American justice. We implore President Trump to hold these ISIS
fighters accountable for their barbaric human rights
crimes against our citizens and to protect our
country against the spread of terror should they escape. Thank you.>>Thank you Margaux
and thank you Diane. And, if it wasn’t made clear
by the statement, you know, when we hear news break,
especially news that breaks on Twitter, those of us
who spend a lot of time on social media, it may
throw us into an outrage loop that is often committed, that is
often created by social media. But, I just want us all
here to recognize that, for families impacted, it is
not just anger that they feel. It is terror, it is
sadness, and it is a sense that closure may never come
and justice may never come. So I’m very honored to
have our guests here today. And, I hope that, when
you all leave here today, you will pay attention to the
news that’s unfolded today and think about the conversation
that we’re about to have. We always start our events
with some sort of framing because we are all coming
from different places. We’re coming from jobs,
we’re coming from classes, we’re coming from
walking around campus, we’re coming from late lunch. And, there’s something that
brought us all to the event. But, we want everybody to
start on the same page. And, so we started this event with just some facts
of the case. We also would like, before
we move the conversation, to start with a video. We had a glitch with
our slide presentation. We’re going to play the
video straight from the web. If you have not seen
the documentary, Jim, the James Foley Story, I really
encourage you to watch it. It is difficult to watch. But if it was, is
difficult to watch, it has been even more
difficult to live and it is more difficult
to seek justice for. And, so we’re all reminded
why we’re having this conversation today. We’d like to play the trailer
from Jim the James Foley Story. [ Inaudible ]>>Trying to figure out where
he belonged in the world. [ Inaudible ] I think I was in denial about
how dangerous this really was.>>I believe that frontline
journalism is important. Without these photos and videos, you can’t really tell the
world how bad it might be. [ Music ]>>Guys with guns put Jim
into the back of their van. I didn’t know if I was
going to see Jim again. [Inaudible].>>We have James. He’s our friend. We do not want to hurt him.>>The shine was
starting to come up. It’s just that how well
can you know anybody?>>The longer you
[inaudible] situation and then suddenly this
whole thing becomes a part of your life [inaudible]
one week with Jim. [ Inaudible ] [ Music ]>>We lost all hopes. [ Inaudible ]>>No the thing is,
there’s physical courage. But, if I don’t have the moral
courage to challenge authority, if I don’t have that
moral courage we don’t have journalism. [ Music ]>>So again, I encourage you all to watch the documentary
Jim, it’s very moving. It’s available on multiple
streaming platforms on HBO, on Hulu, on Amazon. And, for our conversation today,
we’re not going to be talking about the event so much
but about the policy that surrounds it and
what we do as Americans, what our government does
to secure the safe return of American journalists
and other workers who are taken hostage
while abroad. I’m going turn things
over now to Margaux.>>Thank you Lynette. Diane, the themes we’re
discussing this evening of advocating for
freedom for Americans who are held hostage abroad and
promoting journalist’s safety, are really touching
on what the mission of the James W Foley
Legacy Foundation is. Can you tell us a bit more
about how the decision came about to create this
foundation a month after your son was killed? And, what are the most
pressing issues you’re dealing with five years after
that founding?>>Well, firstly, after Jim
was executed, I was angry. I was really outraged. I really felt that our
government had deceived our family and totally
abandoned us and our son. So I just felt that we had to
do better, that, as Americans, we could in fact and should in
fact have the backs of our brave and talented Americans who go
out in the world every year. I mean hundreds of them,
thousands travel the world in various types of
work as you know. So I was appalled. Jim had been detained two
years, nearly two years. And, I had quit my job
and, you know, been working for those years trying to
find someone who would listen to our situation and help. But, it turned out our
government was very siloed, in terms of this issue, that
no one was really accountable for the return of Americans. And, I think many people in
government wanted to help. But they, you know,
their plate was so full and they just didn’t
know how to do it. So we felt compelled, as
a family, that we have to do something to help
Americans, instant Americans who were taken hostage. So it was, it was that
coupled with the fact that we really had
great people from all over the world sending
us money and condolences and strength, prayers. It just seemed like we
had to do something. Now, in terms of now, here
we are five years later, and no one has been
held accountable for Jim’s death really
at this point. And, the challenge continues
except that I’m much more aware of how big the challenge is. I’m just aware that there aren’t
just a few Americans taken hostage every year but in
fact hundreds and some years up to a thousand Americans. I had no idea how
many because most of these cases are
kept classified. Families are told
to be very quiet. Corporations also
are kept very quiet. So the actual scale of this
problem is totally classified. Most of us have, we have no
idea how big the problem is. So as families come
to us in terms, in need of help I become
acutely aware of the challenge. The other part of our
foundation’s challenge is to protect the journalists who
bring us the truth, the news. So we’ve become very passionate about preventative journalist
safety education, so.>>Yes. And, as the foundation’s
mission states that we work to advocate for freedom
for Americans held hostage, we use that term
in a broader sense because we’re really talking
about Americans who are held by non-state actors
like terrorists but also criminal organizations. But, there are many
Americans, unfortunately, who are being unlawfully
detained by a foreign government like those Americans
detained in Iran or Venezuela or even places like Syria. So there’s a lot of work to
be done still on those cases.>>A lot. Because the
reforms that were, there were some reforms and good
things that happened in the wake of these murders such as an
Inter Agency Fusion Cell, Special Envoy and
Hostage Recovery Group at the White House. But, these were done only for
that smaller group of Americans who are taken hostage
by terrorists, criminal gangs, or pirates. So it left out all those who are
unjustly detained by governments who hate us and want to use
them as political pawns. So that is part of our work now, to see if we can’t
get our government to help these many
unjust detainees.>>Right. And, we’ll go
into a little bit more of the journalist safety
issues a little bit later in the discussion. But Joel, as the Executive
Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, at the
time of Jim Foley’s captivity, Diane actually came to you to see how your organization
could help secure her son’s release. Can you explain some
of the difficulties you and other American organizations that the Foley family approached
faced in that endeavor due to U.S. policy at the time?>>Yeah. Yes, don’t worry,
I’m going to cover it. Yeah. So yeah. I’m, so I’m Joel Simon. I’m the Executive
Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. And, for those of you who don’t
know who we are and what we do, we’re an organization
of journalists that defends the rights of
journalists around the world. And, we’ve been doing this
for over three decades. The basic premise is
that, historically anyway, journalists in this country
have worked with the protection of law, the protection
of the First Amendment. But, there are many journalists
around the world who are part of our profession who are our
brothers and sisters who work in dangerous and
repressive environments. We are part of a global
information ecosystem. And, we owe it to them to
support them, to advocate, to fight for them,
to use the tools of journalism to keep them safe. I also was a journalist for
many years in Latin America. And, so the issue of journalists
being kidnapped was something I had confronted in my
professional life. I had colleagues and friends
who were kidnapped in Mexico and in Columbia some of these
incidents and did quite badly. So this was, this was in my mind
when I started at the committee to protect journalists is that, is running the Latin America
program some years ago. And, as an organization
we grappled with some very difficult cases. Some of you may remember
Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal
reporter who was abducted in Pakistan right after 911
and was subsequently killed and beheaded by Al-Qaeda. And, we, and we mounted,
participated in a global campaign to try
and win his freedom which was, obviously, ultimately
unsuccessful. And, there were many
other cases. So this was an issue that
we had grappled with. But, in the summer of
2013, this was 18 months after Jim had initially
gone missing in Syria, Diane and her husband John came
to me because they had decided, for a number of different
reasons, including the fact that they felt, as Diane said, abandoned by the U.S.
Government, their only hope of bringing Jim home
was to figure out a way to pay a ransom. And, they had actually
received some time previously, a note from hostage
takers indicating that they wanted to negotiate. I wrote a book on this
and that’s the title of my book, We Want
to Negotiate. And, it’s drawn from that note. But there, you know, and I, of
course, I had, I had met Jim, I met him once briefly. It was, he made an
invaluable impression on me. He was that kind of person. But, he was a good friend
to many people on our staff who were close to him. And, so we were quite aware of the circumstances
of his kidnapping. And, of course, I
wanted to help. But there were challenges. One was that CPJ had a policy
that we had for a long time that we recognize that families,
particularly, will, you know, pay ransom for the return
of their loved ones. But, we had some concerns
that paying ransom, particularly governments paying
ransom could actually make it more dangerous for journalists because it would make
journalists more of a target. And, I won’t go into
all the, you know, the kind of discussions that
Diane and John had about this at the time because this was
certainly the U.S. Government policy and I did
what I could to help. But, after Jim was killed, Diane and I had a sort
of heart to heart. And, she said to me,
she said, you know, how do you know this to be true? How do you know that the policy of paying ransom actually
increase the risk to journalists and others around the world? And, I said to her, you
know Diane, I, when I think about it, it seems obvious. But, I don’t really
know it to be true. And, so Diane challenged
me to go out and, as a journalist,
to report on that. And, that’s what I did. And, I ultimately wrote a book
about U.S. hostage policy. And, I ultimately, and
I’m sure this will be part of the discussion, came to the,
came to the opposite conclusion of the assumptions
that I began with. And I, I now believe
that this policy, for the most part,
is counterproductive. And, we can, as part of
this discussion we can go into the why. But, that was the circumstances under which I initially
became involved.>>Great. And, in your book, you
really looked into this policy, how it historically
originated in the United States. But, you also compared
the U.S. approach to that of foreign countries such
as France, Spain, etcetera. And, several journalists from those countries were
I captivity with Jim. And, as we know, they came
home when Jim did not. And, so how has your research,
you know, have found that, did U.S. hostage policy
play a role in that result?>>Well, first I should
say, you know the, you talk about the
origins of the U.S. policy. The U.S. policy, historically,
has been that, you know, the U.S. does not
negotiate with terrorists, does not make concessions
to terrorists. And, I was kind of,
you know, it started, when I started my
research I was, wondered where did this policy
emerge and how did it come from? And, I was finally, wasn’t,
there were different people and different points of view. But, I was finally able to
figure out the precise origins of this policy which
actually happened in 19, was 1973 there was a,
an incident in Sudan where Palestinian terrorists
took over the U.S. Embassy, sorry it wasn’t the U.S.
Embassy, it was the, I believe the Saudi Embassy in
Khartoum, and kidnapped a bunch of diplomats including a
number of U.S. diplomats. And, one of their demands was
for the release of Sirhan Sirhan who was the convicted
murderer of Robert F Kennedy and a number of other demands. And, so right after this
happened President Nixon had a planned a press conference. And, at that press conference,
he was asked how do you intend to react this, these
demands made by this group which is holding these
American diplomats hostage? And, of course, there was no
way that he could, you know, contemplate releasing Sirhan
Sirhan even if he had the power to do it who had murdered
his, murdered his, you know, democratic opponent
in the election. So he simply said, you know, we won’t pay blackmail,
we won’t negotiate. And, as a result of that,
there’s some debate about this, but the people I talked to
were reasonably confident, that his proclamation
actually led the people who were holding this, the U.S.
diplomats hostage to take them down into the basement
and execute them. And, after that articulation
of this hard line policy, as the person who was helped
designed this policy explained to me, the U.S. policy
was written in blood. We doubled down. We basically came up with a
whole series of rationalizations to justify the policy. But they were, they
were after the fact. And, there was a lot of
research done, even at the time, contemporaneously to try and
determine whether this approach of not negotiating actually
decreased the risk to Americans. And, surprisingly,
even at the time that the policy was
being implemented, there was very little
research to indicate that there was any correlation between the policy
of not negotiating. The British, at the time, had
a policy of not negotiating, and there was very
little correlation, very little evidence to suggest
there was any correlation. In fact, most countries around
the world, or many countries around the world look at the
issue much more pragmatically, particularly the Europeans. And, there’s, there are
different approaches in different countries. And, in my book, I looked
specifically at France and Spain which are sort of on different
ends of the continuum. So, if the U.S. and the
U.K. have this strict policy of not negotiating, France has a
policy of sometimes negotiating if there’s enough pressure
put on the government, which means bringing
people out into the street, public protests, etcetera. And, Spain has a policy of basically always
negotiating and, for the most part,
being willing to pay. And, there have been some
studies done recently that look at the, you know, I
mentioned there doesn’t seem to be a correlation
between policies of, no concessions policies,
in other words policies of not negotiating and the risks
to the particular nationals of the country that
has that policy. But, there’s a very
strong correlation between survival rates. So countries that do not
negotiate have between a 25% and 33% survival rate for their
nationals who are taken hostage by terrorist groups
around the world. France has a, you know,
the French hostages survive at a rate of about 75%. And, Spain has the best
record in the world, something like 33 Spanish
nationals have been taken hostage, you know, since
2001 since sort of the onset of the War on Terror,
everyone of them has come home, everyone has been ransomed. So, there’s 100% survival rate for Spanish hostages
a 25% survival rate for American hostages.>>Diane, did you
want to interject?>>I did. And, I guess what
was, you know, we heard, particularly it was made
clear to us, when we were in this situation,
about the policy. It really wasn’t. But, as it got nearer the
end of Jim’s captivity, we heard several times, we were
actually threatened three times by a person from the Obama
Administration that, if in fact, we dared to raise a ransom, we
would, in fact, be prosecuted, that, that was the case. Secondly, this individual
told us for sure the U.S. would
not mount a rescue mission. And, we would, they, our country
would not ask a third country to intervene. So the four families,
four American families, when we did come to intrigue the
government to help us with this, this is what we faced. But, that aside, I think, when I
started to look at the evidence for this no concessions
policy, there wasn’t any. As a matter of fact,
during all this time with the Obama Administration
insisting on this being the policy, the
RAND Corporation was telling of, that was at the time the
most recent research, was telling them in fact that
was not their conclusion. That, their conclusion
was more aligned with just what Joel said, that,
in fact, Americans faired worse. I mean, well, it stands to
reason, if you don’t even talk to people who are
holding someone captive, there’s really no chance for
those hostages, if you will. And, that was followed up by West Point Counter
Combating Terrorism Center’s research showing the same thing. And, then New America Think Tank
in Washington undertook it again because I wanted to
make sure, I mean, this, our government kept saying this. That we’re, we would
endanger Americans if we in fact gave concessions
or negotiated. So I thought, well gee, there
must be something to this. So we reached out again to
this Think Tank in Washington. They also did an in depth
research showing how different allies, their results from either engaging
in captors or not. And, the Americans
faired worse all around. So it was appalling to see that. In fact, this had become
a slogan, a slogan. And, that’s what you had
said, say in your book Joel. It was a slogan though that
ended up propelling the policy. So it tied the hands of
any of our talented FBI or State Department people
who could have helped us.>>Yeah, and I mean,
I fit to give, you know not, it was a slogan. But, the reason it
worked as a slogan is because it seem logical.>>Yeah it does.>>It does seem logical. I mean, it’s, right if you
pay then other people will take hostages. Right? I mean, isn’t
that logical? So this, and it sounds tough. And so it resonated and it became deeply
entrenched in the U.S. outlook. And, the U.S., you know,
obviously has an interest in resisting, you know,
terror groups who might try and coerce the U.S.
in changing its policy by taking Americans captive. The problem was that this policy that the logic behind the
no concessions policy is that if you don’t
pay ransom, right, if you never pay ransom
you’ll create a disincentive to commit the crime. Right? Why would anyone
take someone hostage if they’re never
going to get paid? But that’s, what I found in
my research is it’s impossible to create an environment
where people don’t pay ransom. You know that families will pay. We know that businesses
will pay. We know that some
governments will pay. And, not only that, the U.S. no
concessions policy, as it was, only applied in very
limited circumstance. Let me give you some examples. If you are kidnapped
domestically in the United States,
what is the policy? The policy is not only
that we will pay, but, around the country the FBI
has stashed in reserves up to $300,000 that they
provide to kidnappers. It’s called Ransom
Islore [assumed spelling]. Why do we do this? Because they found that paying
ransom in domestic cases, you know, wins the
release of the hostage. And, then the next step is you
go after the hostage taker, but, once the hostage is released. So when you’re kidnapped
domestically there’s a completely different approach. Secondly, if you’re kidnapped
by a criminal organization, say a Mexican drug cartel
which behaves very much like a terror organization,
they’re designated as criminal organizations
perfectly legal to pay. You can pay them. The FBI will sometime
even help you pay them. So that’s, let’s say
an airplane is hijacked and they make political demands. That is under the
authority of the FAA and they have a different
approach which is just to prioritize the
safety of the passengers. So they’re willing to negotiate. And, if this is confusing to
you, imagine how confusing it is to the hostage takers. So what happened with this
policy is they actually created perverse incentives whereby if
you took a group of hostages and you knew that some
countries were going to pay and some were not, then
you could put pressure on the countries that would
pay by killing the hostages from the countries
that wouldn’t. And, those hostages
didn’t have economic value. So instead of decreasing
the amount of money going to terror groups around the
world, you actually increased it because you created
an environment in which they could
get larger ransoms. So I mean this is really an
exercise in the, you know, policy making by
political slogan instead of taking the time and energy to
dig deeply into a complex area. And, I was guilty of this
myself where research, focused research, leads you to
a conclusion that’s contrary to the most intuitive
understanding of this issue.>>Yeah. So you know, even
though that aspect of the policy about paying ransom
not paying ransom to terrorists did not change in
these reforms that you mentioned in your statement, Diane,
in 2015, there was a, Presidential Policy Directive
30, PPD 30 an Executive Order that made some changes and created an interagency
coordinated body called the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell. It also created the role of
the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the
U.S. Department of State, and a Hostage Response Group
that oversaw those two bodies at the National Security Council that also made high level
policy making decisions related to hostages. Have there been improvements since those changes
to this issue? Because, as you said, many Americans have their loved
ones currently either being held by terrorist organizations,
criminal organizations or unlawfully detained
by foreign governments.>>Well, the 2015 changes,
I am told, were historic. So I am told that
was a huge shift. The fact that we would go from
a siloed approach to the return of our citizens to
an interagency one. So but again, as I said
before, that was on only for that small group of
Americans taken hostage by criminal gangs,
terrorist groups, or pirates. It did not apply to any
of the hundreds of people who are unjustly detained
by governments like Turkey, Iran, Venezuela, etcetera. So that is why we hired Margaux
working for times in Washington because there are hundreds of
Americans who need our help. Our policy is not
protecting them. It’s not, our citizens,
the return of our citizens, in many cases, is not
being prioritized. Many times their captivity is
being used as a political tool. And, that’s what these
countries who hate us know. I mean they’re shrewd. They know it’s a great way to
gain leverage over our country to take our citizens,
particularly those who are blatantly innocent like
the Princeton graduate student, Wang he’s been two, going to be
three years now in detention. He had a legal student
visa to study in Iran and he was detained
and he’s being held. And, he is held hostage, partly
in this horrible environment. There are so many cases. Venezuela six Citgo executives from the United States were
lured to Venezuela by Maduro to, you know, a meeting where
they were all taken hostage, they were just taken. This is, and this is happening
more and more around the world. There are many examples
unfortunately.>>And, I would invite
anyone here to take a look at the report that the James
W Foley Legacy Foundation put out earlier this year, which
is the first nongovernmental assessment of this U.S.
policy change from 2015. It’s called Bringing
Americans Home. And, it is from the
perspective of former hostages, their families, and it
also addresses this gap from unlawful detainees
that don’t benefit from the same information
sharing and transparency that the reform is
supposed to create. And, so essentially, you
know, that’s the work that the Foley Foundation
is trying to achieve to address those gaps. Joel, do you think, you know,
from going back to your book, what are some lessons
learned that, from these other countries, where the U.S. Government might
be able to take some examples and improve the situations for
its citizens to bring them home?>>Well, I think there
are some things that, if you look at the European
government what they do well, but they’re, but you know nobody
has figured out the perfect, you know, this is a
problem from hell. So it’s not like some
countries just figured it out. But, I think one thing that the
Europeans, and even the British, to a certain extent, have a very
strict no concessions policy where the Americans have
failed, they’re doing better, but they’ve, historically,
they’ve failed, is no American citizen should
feel alone without the support of their government
when they are going through a circumstance
like this. I mean, that is cruel and
inhuman to leave families to grapple with these,
you know, not only, not only has the
American Government failed to support them, as Diane
mentioned, it has put obstacles in their path threatening to
put American families in jail for seeking the return
of their loved one. This is outrageous. And, the Europeans have a much
more, you know, not perfect, but a much more humane
approach including the British. The British have a no
concessions policy, but they treat the
families a lot better. They’ve historically done that. They’ve brought families
of hostages to London. They’ve often had brief meetings
with the Prime Minister. They’ve done a better job
of providing information and sharing with them, of
even explaining the policy. You know, I interviewed a
Spanish official in my book who, you know, who was in
charge of this policy under a previous government. And she, you know, that was
the thing that she expressed and many other people in Spain
expressed to me which was, you know, the cruelty
of the American policy. What do the Europeans do
that, I think, you know, Americans should not emulate? I think the, I think that,
you know, hostage taking is, what one expert called,
it’s political dynamite. Because, you know, and, you
know, these aren’t huge numbers as Diane mentioned, it’s a
much larger than we realized, but it’s not, you know, it’s
not a huge number of people. But, hostage taking has this
incredible ability to, you know, it just hits us emotionally. And, it makes us feel
vulnerable and angry. So governments can manipulate
us into taking action that may be empathetical to
our [inaudible] of interest or, you know, providing money to
terror groups that they use for terrible purposes. So what the Europeans do wrong
is they very publicly engage in the negotiations. And, what that does is it
drives up the ransom demands because if the hostage takers
realize they’re negotiating with the government, their
demands are going to go up. And, if their demands,
if the price goes up, then it goes up across
the board. And, it goes up for criminal
kidnappings and it goes up to the point where
other families, who many not have the
support of their government, can’t possibly pay these
multi million dollar ransoms. So to me, the best solution is
governments need to be involved. But, they often need to hide
their involvement and they need to support the families fully
and they need to be creative. And, they need to always keep
in mind the human dimension of this problem and balance the
human dimension with the human, with the strategic interest. And, I think, this is what the
Obama Administration got wrong. They were so focused on the
strategic considerations that they forgot to focus on the
human dimension of this problem. And, they left the families in
a terrible vulnerable position.>>I so agree with that. And, I also think, you
know how our government so shrewdly will form
coalitions for war for example. In this particular instance
in, between 2012 and 2013, ISIS gathered quite a group. There were about 18 western
hostages held all together. So there were, and that’s partly
why Joel also skillfully look at those same allies
that were all together and how different
our approaches were. Imagine if there’d been an
international coalition that, if we had come together as
an international community to address this, you know,
they might all be home. You know? So that was, you know, that was not even,
not even considered. Every single country took it
in upon themselves individually to handle the situation which,
you know, really left no chance for the British and
American captives.>>Yeah. I mean, and I just want
to add that there’s this sort of false iconomy
between, you know, concessions and no concessions. And, really, it’s not really about whether the government
pay or they don’t pay. In most cases, the European
governments actually deny they pay and they may
technically not be paying because they’re directing
some other resource. So really, what it comes down to
is does the government support the efforts of the
families and the loved ones to raise the money necessary
to bring the hostage home, especially when this is
in the strategic interest of the particular country? Or do they thwart them? And that, I think, is the
more appropriate framework.>>And, just one other point. I don’t, I think
it’s important to say that it’s not always
about ransom. I think, particularly,
had we come together as an international
community, there are ways. There are ways to sanction
groups, there are ways to, there are other points
of leverage. I think the point is, and in Joel’s book,
is we must negotiate. We must find out what people
want and then shrewdly figure out how can we negotiate
on behalf of, you know, our citizens. And, the other thing I think,
which is one of the quick, I’m sorry, no there’s
just so many issues. But, Obama, the Obama
Administration missed the opportunity to really find
out what ISIS was doing. That, by neglecting this
issue, putting it aside, looking at the other
issues in the region, they were caught totally
unaware about how they planned to use the American hostages and
did not receive the intelligence and the information that
would’ve helped them to know how strong
they were becoming and a threat to our country.>>And, on that point about
the United States Government, either they’re going to help
the families or they’re going to thwart their efforts. There are a lot of
third parties that come into this whether there
be human rights attorneys or security firms,
insurance firms who have provided
kidnap and ransom policy. Can you talk a little bit
more about their roles?>>Sure, sure. And, I think the fundamental
point here is, you know, are you looking for
creative solutions? And, or are you, are
your trapped by a policy that limits your options, you
know, when you should be looking at every possible option? And, you know, keep in
mind that, you know, again, this is a common sense issue. If you, if somebody
had something that you wanted desperately
and you were trying to get that thing, your opening
posture would not be we won’t negotiated. You would, you would of
course engage, you know, maybe you wouldn’t
meet the demands, but, of course you would do
everything you could to understand what
those demands were so at least you could
make an informed decision. And, now I forgot the question. Will you repeat it?>>The role of security
companies, insurance.>>Yeah. So one thing
that I also looked at in my book is that, you know, there is something called
kidnapping and ransom insurance. And, most of you, if you
haven’t worked in places around the world,
or even if you have, have probably not heard of this. It’s one of the, because one of
the requirements of kidnapping and ransom insurance is
supposed to be a secret for the person who’s insured. But, basically the way it
works, and it’s, you know, it’s, most major U.S. companies and international
companies have kidnapping and ransom insurance
for their employees. And, basically, the way it
works is that you have a policy and the policy will
reimburse the individual, the wealthy family for
example or the company for the ransom once it is paid. So you have to actually raise
the money to pay the ransom which creates the, which
creates a real negotiation because of you pay the ransom
too quickly you probably are going to get hit up
for a second ransom because the kidnappers
are going to say well that was easy we obviously
didn’t ask for enough. So you have to engage
in some sort of negotiation that’s credible. And, so these firms, you
know, sell this insurance that makes it possible
for companies, say media organizations
or aid, or aid, you know, companies that are
providing humanitarian aid, or not companies rather
nonprofit organizations or international organizations
or companies that work in high risk environments
to deploy their people into this setting and provide
some what’s called duty of care, you know, some reasonable. And, if you have this
insurance and you are kidnapped, the insurance policy will
cover professional negotiators. And the track record for these
kidnapping and ransom insurance and this responders, as
they’re called, or negotiators, crisis responders is quite good. But again, we get back to
this limitation which is, and it’s completely arbitrary
when you talk to them. You know, if you are insured and
you have a policy or family say and you are kidnapped and they
don’t know who’s kidnapped you. So initially they think it’s
a criminal organization. Okay. Your policy
will cover you. You can pay the ransom. You’ll be reimbursed, you’ll
have a crisis response person who will help you, you will have
the support of your government. Most of those cases end well. If, however, it is
determined that you are held by a terror group was
called a prescribed group under various international
legal arrangements, then it becomes illegal
to pay the ransom and the policy is
essentially voided. You will not be reimbursed if
you do pay and their ability to support you is limited. And, these determinations,
which are life and death determinations,
are often quite arbitrary.>>So I want to shift
gears a little bit. Obviously this issue
is impacting many types of different Americans
whether they be aid workers, business men or women,
travelers, tourists, but it also impacts journalists,
like Jim was a journalist. And, there I one American
journalist right now being detained in Syria since
2012, that’s Austin Tice. We’re all wearing pins
to support him today. I was wondering, Joel, if
you could paint a picture for us given the work
that the Committee to Protect Journalists does to
raise awareness about threats against journalists and press
freedom around the world, but also here at home? What is the current climate
for journalists in the world? What risks are they facing and
what steps need to be taken in order to keep them safe?>>Well, Margaux, as
you mentioned, you know, that our job at the Committee
to Protect Journalists, one of the jobs we do is
research and documentation. And, we’ve been doing detailed
documentation of journalists, press freedom violations
committed against journalists since 1992. So we have a baseline
and we have data. And, I’m sorry to report
that this is the worst moment in recent history in terms of
attacks against journalists. There are a record number
of journalists in prison around the world for
the last several years, there’s escalating
levels of violence. I’m sure you’re all
aware of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi the Saudi
journalist and columnist for the Washington Post who
was murdered inside the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul
just over a year ago. And, this is an emblematic case that certainly galvanized
the world’s attention. You know, why is this happening? I mean, there’s so many reasons. Some of them go back to the
particular moment that Jim and his colleagues, who
were held hostage in Syria, lived through a time when technology was
radically transforming the information environment. And, journalists
who were once able to use their collective
information monopoly, as I like to refer
to it as a way of basically making
themselves useful to groups that might want to do them harm. Well that just sort
of disappeared. And, so the kind of risks to those journalists
dramatically increased. And, then you have the threat
that, on the other side, you have governments
around the world, particularly the aftermath of
the Arab spring when people took to the street and
were protesting. And they, you know,
governments recognized that the free circulation of
information, which was difficult to control, represented
a threat to them. And, then we saw a global
crackdown on journalists and free expression
in response to that. And, then you have a new
dynamic today which is the rise of this new generation
of authoritarian leaders who are undermining the role
of the press, particularly in democratic countries. And, President Trump is
certainly among them. And, I think that we can kind
of, there’s some real risk to journalists in this country,
not all of them attributable to President Trump of course. There’s the murder
of the journalist at the Capital Gazette in
Maryland, there are increasing, you know, there’ve been,
there’ve been threats to newsrooms, for
example the Boston Globe. There’s been pipe bombs
that were, fake pipe bombs, you know, sent to CNN. There’s lots of emergent
threats to journalists to their physical integrity. But, you know, most
journalists, in this country, are not detoured by
the kind of language that President Trump
uses when he talks about the media calling
them fake news and enemies of the people, they’re going
about doing their reporting. Where that kind of rhetoric
does the most damage, as A.G. Sulzberger,
the Publisher of the New York Times noted
and published a couple of weeks ago, is
around the world. Because it empowers
authoritarian leaders, and it undermines, to a
huge degree, U.S. influence and credibility around
the world. The U.S. is no longer able
to effectively advocate for press freedom and
the rights of journalists and to use it’s influence
to secure better treatment. And there are certainly
governments around the world which are adopting, you know,
quote unquote, fake news laws. Their attitude is, you know,
all President Trump does is talk about how bad fake news. We’re doing something about it. We’re criminalizing fake news
and putting journalists in jail. So you put all these things
together and, you know, that’s really why we’re living
through an unprecedented moment in terms of threats
against journalists and press freedom
around the world.>>And, of course, the
reaction shouldn’t be that people are detoured
from practicing journalism because it’s such an
important public service. So we know there’s a lot of
initiatives out there to try and prepare journalists
for this climate. And, that the Foley foundation
has developed safety curricula for graduate journalism schools and is now piloting an
undergraduate curriculum with Marquette University
for this fall. Diane, can you tell
us a little bit more about what the foundation
wants to achieve with this particular focus on
student journalists or people who maybe don’t want
to be in the profession but might be starting to be
interested in these courses and could use those skills in
the rest of their professions?>>Definitely. I have come to know, I never
really recognized how critical investigative journalists
are to our freedom. I really didn’t. I mean, I’m a nurse. I had no clue. So I have com to understand
that speaking truth to power is how we
are kept free truly. And that we, it is essential
that we have a free press. So what do we do? And, I think it’s what’s
been frightening is, as Joel has said, a lot of
different people, be they good or bad actors, have realized that they can handle
their own communications. They can go directly to the
press via social media or a blog or a whatever, a video. And, so that journalists, they
try to circumvent journalists. And, therefore, journalists
are hugely at risk and often targeted because
they, they’re giving their in depth investigative view
of the truth as opposed to maybe the message
that the person wants or the group wants
the world to hear. Therefore, we have become
quite passionate about wanting to help educate the, any
aspiring young journalist or international workers. That, not only should they be
really excellent at their craft, be it as an aid worker or a
foreign service or journalist, but that, they also should be
expert at digital security, at risk assessment, so that
they can keep themselves, their sources, the people
they work with secure. So that’ why we’re
working with universities. That’s why we’re so pleased
to be here at Michigan.>>Right. And, both of your
organizations have also played a role in this collective effort
to strengthen protections for independent journalists or
freelancers because they’re also so often putting themselves
at risk to cover news in dangerous places like
Syria, Jim was a freelancer. And, you’re both on the
board of the A Culture Of Safety Alliance,
the ACOS Alliance which encourages media
outlets to refrain from hiring freelancers until they’ve received
hostile environment and first aid training or
other similar safety training to insure they have
access to insurance. And, also that editors
who send journalists on assignment understand
the risks and they have safety
training of their own. So that’s also something that
is really important to both of your organizations.>>Yes. I mean that was
really a historic alliance. I mean, to bring media companies
together with press NGO’s on behave of the growing
group of freelance journalists who really don’t have
those basic things. Who don’t have money for safe
accommodations, translators, drivers, don’t have
security backup insurance, all of these things.>>Yeah. And, I mean,
Diane is absolutely right. And, this is part
of Jim’s legacy. And, I also want to
explain a little bit about how it changed the
Committee to Protect Journalists and the work that we do. In the aftermath of Jim, Jim’s
murder, Steven Sotloff’s murder and the other aid workers who
were killed along with them, CPJ created an emergency
department and an emergency response team. And, we brought on
a safety expert and we actually created
a fellowship in honor, to honor Jim’s memory called
the James Foley Fellow. And, that person is part
of our emergencies team. And the work that this, you
know, the understanding, you know, CPJ historically has
been an advocacy organization. But, we recognized that
there are many circumstances in which advocacy
is insufficient. Really what we need to do is be
out there providing journalists with the safety information
they need to stay safe. And so we’re part
of this alliance. We’re working hand and glove
with the Foley Foundation and expanding our
work in this area. And, I want to say that this
is not, you know, some, I mean, we’re the Committee to Protect
Journalists, we’re journalists. So these are our colleagues and we feel a very strong
identity towards them. But, I want to explain
that there’s, that, this I think is relevant
to everyone in this room. This is not, you know, some sort
of special plating or it’s not, you know, merely altruistic. There’s this sort of
self-interest in this. Because, we all know how,
you know, information and news gathering has changed. And, we all know that,
around the world, more and more frontline news is
being reported by freelancers and even more importantly
by local journalists working in their own countries who
are supplying information that is then incorporated
into global reports. And, what these people,
therefore, are putting their lives on
the line to bring us the news and information we need
about the world in order to make informed
decisions about our lives. And, we owe it to them and we
owe it to ourselves to insure that they can do this work
with a modicum of safety. And, that’s what the CPJ
Emergency Response Team and Emergencies Department
is all about.>>So I think we have some
questions from the audience now. No I’m just waiting
to see if it’s on.>>I have to turn it on. Okay. Okay. There we go. So we have a couple
questions, I’m going to, some similar questions. I’m going to combine them
into this one question. Do you think hostages fair
worst because they are American and America is the enemy
of Jihadists in a way that countries like Spain
and Denmark are not?>>Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, we are hated in
the world, unfortunately, at this moment in time. Absolutely. I think westerners
are targeted anyway because of various
western coalitions. But, absolutely. I think once they found
out Jim was American, he had one of the
worst treatments of any of the hostages.>>I’m going to say that it
was certainly the case in Syria and it’s certainly
the case in places where the U.S. is involved
in active conflict. But, in other places,
at least historically, being an American has provided
a certain level of protection because the U.S., you know,
is you know there’s no, there are consequences,
political consequences that groups may not
want to endure if they target an American. So I mean it depends
on the circumstances and depends on the environment. But, there are certainly
many cases around the world, many places around the world where being an American
is a liability.>>This question comes
from another journalist. According to Le Monde,
France has paid $58 million to hostage takers chiefly
in the Sahara region. Tens of millions were
paid directly to Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb, in
the Islamic Maghreb. AQIM itself says the money
was used to buy weapons and to expand operations. By the time I arrived in the
Sahara to report in 2013, I faced a greatly expanded and well financed
kidnapping machine. How can we pay ransoms
without creating incentives to kidnap persons like me?>>Correct. That’s exactly the
problem with the, you know, this is something
that I grappled with. You know, the best case
against paying ransom is not that it puts a target
on the nationals of a particular country. Even the AQIM, you know,
which is targeting westerners in the Sahara region, you know, they probably were just
grabbing westerners without having a sense of
what their nationality was and then sorting them out. So the argument that, you know, whether a particular
country pays or does not pay ransom
makes the citizens of that country more
or less of target. That’s, there’s not a
lot of evidence of that. But, the real argument
against paying ransom is that it’s a source of financing
for these terror groups which are primarily
targeting, you know, citizens of the countries
in which they’re operating and wreaking terrible havoc. So that’s why I think the only,
there’s no simple solution. But, the best policy
is one that recognizes that you really can’t walk away and have a no concessions
policy. You have to figure
out a way to pay. But, you have to pay
as little as possible. And, what France did in
North Africa was basically, through its very public
engagement around these issues, you know, made clear that the
government was going to step in and pay very high ransoms. And, that I think,
unquestionably, you know, made hostage taking
more attractive and helped finance some
of these terror groups. So there isn’t a
simple solution. But, I do think that the
goal has to be, and the goal that everyone agrees upon, is
to reduce the ransom payments so that these groups
do not have access to that kind of financing.>>And, I would just, I
certainly concur with that Joel. I think, but I think a lot
of the solution is more of an international
approach to this issue. Because, since we
know that some sort of negotiation is necessary
to, in fact, have the return of our citizens,
even a possibility that should we be
able, if it were more of an international approach,
we could hopefully keep ransoms down and make it not as
much of a funding source. Because, obviously
that’s a huge problem. We certainly don’t want that.>>This is a question
we got on Twitter. We’ve been talking a lot
about stateless actors. But, this question was actually about how you would approach
negotiating with a government such as Venezuela’s
Maduro Regime?>>Well, I would say this. You know, that this
whole framework around nonstate actors, you
know, we don’t negotiate, does not, you know, I
outlined all the circumstances in which this does not apply. And, one of the situations where it does not
apply is governments. So when Americans are
unjustly detained, I sometimes call them judicial
hostages, by governments around the world, we do engage. And, not uniformly, not necessarily applying
the appropriate level of attention to these issues. But, we do engage. And, I’m not going to say
there’s some magic formula that will resolve the situation
with, in Venezuela, which, you know, where the government
is clearly understood that, you know, this strategy can, and Iran has even been more
aggressive in this regard, have a coercive impact. But you have to engage, you
have to look for solutions, you have to be pragmatic. And, you have to take
into account the welfare of those Americans
who are taken hostage and the needs of their families.>>If I may add to
that just briefly. The President of the United
States actually has a statutory obligation when he learns
of an unlawful detention of a U.S. citizen or lawful
permanent resident to inquire and find a way to secure that
American citizen’s release. Now, the exact piece of legislation eludes
me at the moment. But, there’s actually a
lot of force behind that. And, it should push
the government in terms of what it undertakes
in terms of efforts to free these Americans who
are unlawfully detained. And, what Diane was referring
to earlier about the [inaudible] for unlawful detainees and what
kind of information is shared with them is that often the
families are told what the pre-U.S. Hostage policy reform
families were told is your loved on is our highest
priority, we’re working on a lot of different things. But, we can’t tell
you what’s going on. And, in reality, the
government isn’t being honest about what their
limitations are, what are the policy
constraints that they’re facing, because of the way
that they don’t want to recognize Maduro’s
government in this example or the maximum pressure
campaign on Iran for example. These things impact whether
or not Americans come home. And, what really needs to change
is that the government needs to start being open and
honest with those families about what those limitations are
so that they can become creative with their attorney
or other countries who might be able to help.>>I totally agree. I think the bottom line what
I, as I see it, is that part of our role, at the James
Foley Legacy Foundation, is to prioritize the
return of our Americans, that they at least get on
the list of negotiables when we engage with other
countries such as Venezuela and to make sure that
they’re at the top of the list, not the bottom. And, that, that is a
priority for our government, when in practice it
has not, certainly not when Jim was detained.>>So just to follow up. Is CPJ or the Foley
Foundation directly involved in any negotiations with the
Venezuelan government right now?>>No. The Foley
Foundation doesn’t engage with foreign government. Our role is really to serve as
a U.S. hostage policy watchdog. We’re in charge of trying to make sure U.S. Government is
doing everything in its power to free American citizens and
communicate with those families and engage with them
in a transparent way.>>And with third party experts. Because sometimes the solutions
are not anything our government can do. But to have the candor bring in
third party experts like Joel and a lot of cases a lot of
journalists around the world, pro bono attorneys, you know.>>It’s like the
Richardson Center.>>Yeah.>>Which also do, there are
some groups that do negotiate. Governor Bill Richardson
has worked a lot on case and brought, helped bring Otto
Warmbier home for example.>>Right. And, so that’s
why we try to be a place where desperate families
can find people who can find different
strategies to bring, in fact bring. But we don’t personally engage.>>And, what about CPJ?>>Well, yeah. I mean, we will engage. Not necessarily on the
behalf of Americans. But, you know, repressive
governments around the world that put journalists in
jail, we engage all the time with those governments. And we, you know, I’ve
met with, you know, I met with President
Erdogan in Turkey and specifically raised
the issue of, you know, the unjust detention of
journalists arrested. Turkey’s the world’s leading
jailer of journalists. So it’s certainly
within our mandate. And, you know, if we
have an opportunity to, I wouldn’t call it
negotiating, necessarily. Because, what do
we have to offer? But, engaging with governments
that put journalists in jail, including American
journalists is something we do on a regular basis.>>Okay. This is a
question from the audience. Does memorializing Jim’s
working life encourage or discourage more journalists
to become war correspondents?>>Good question. I think, you know, we do use the
film, Jim the James Foley Story in part of our curriculum for
any journalists interested in conflict journalism
so that they might go in with their eyes
open and be aware that it’s a very high
risk type of journalism. But, that is why we’re so
passionate about safety. Because the reality is
that I feel very strongly that we must have journalists
to speak truth to power, to tell us what in fact
is happening in the world or in our own country. But, we have a moral obligation
to see that they are safe, that they can pursue
the truth in a way that protects them
and their sources. So we’re hoping that, I would
hope that people aren’t afraid to become journalists. I’m sure some are
and that’s valid. It, you know, but that, I mean,
it’s a patriotic duty, I think, if any young people
feel called to that, it’s a noble profession
in my opinion. But, we must keep them safe.>>This is another
question for the room. I wonder what CPJ or the
Foley Foundation knows of British War photojournalist
John Cantlie who was in prison with Jim and still, as of
February, is reportedly alive and being held by ISIS? So it’s six years I believe?>>If you want to say something.>>No you go first.>>No. I mean, I
think that, you know, yes the last reports
are that John is alive. I’m not, you know, we don’t
have any confirmation of that. I do know, from, you
know, being in touch with John’s family
that, you know, it’s, they believe this is a sensitive
moment and it’s important that we recognize that his
situation is unresolved. But, you know, I don’t
want to speculate or really say much more
about his situation.>>Right. The family really
doesn’t want us to comment on his captivity really. But, we remain hopeful. We really do.>>And, I think the fact that
there isn’t a lot of information about his whereabouts underline
the fact that there are so few information
sources now in this regions because of how many journalists
have been targeted or forced to flee including
specially local journalists that are on the ground. Where, in the past, you might
have had more information about where he might be.>>So we have time for
just two more questions. Here’s another one
from the audience. But, before I ask this, I want
to refer back to your comments that sometimes being a U.S.
citizen can actually be an advantage in a negotiation
situation because governments or nonstate actors don’t want
to increase their jeopardy by dealing with U.S. Government. But, the question is journalists
are facing an administration that is undermining
their credibility. How does this impact the push to support journalists
held hostage? And, then I want to add on
to that let’s look back again that the Jamal Khashoggi case.>>Well, I mean, you know, to say the Trump
Administration is a paradox is an understatement. But, on this particular issue. So on the issue of
hostages, the, you know, President Trump has actually
prioritized this issue. And, many of the families that
I speak with, I don’t know if you would agree with
this Diane, are appreciative of the level of engagement
that they’ve received from the Trump Administration. And, Trump has certainly
trumpeted his success. Some of the things he does, I
think, are actually unhelpful, such as insisting, you know, trying to extract
the political benefit from every hostage that’s
released by insisting that the released
person come and meet him at the Oval Office
and, you know, oppose, submit to these photo ops. And I’ve talked to
some people who’ve been through that experience and told
me that it was not something that they would have, you know, that they were pressured
to do it. And, that concerns
me a great deal. So you know, Trump, but, we do
have to recognize that Trump, the Trump Administration has
made hostage recovery a priority and has had some
genuine success. In terms of the broader
issue that, you know, you know the kind of leverage
that the U.S. has, let’s take it out the American, you know, the
American context, just talking about American Journalists
because CPJ, you know, we’re, our focus is on all journalists. We want to make sure that
all journalists are able to work freely. And, the U.S. has
historically had some leverage and has applied it. Not consistently, not
in, not as frequently as we’d like, but
it has done so. And, that has been advantageous. And, that leverage is gone. It is gone. Because, there are so
many examples of this. But, the Trump Administration’s
response to the Jamal Khashoggi murder,
you know, the indifference that it’s shown, you
know, I would even say that the Trump Administration
has been an accessory after the fact. It has really assisted the
Saudi Government in covering up that heinous crime. It’s reprehensible. And, that’s sends a message
to enemies of journalists and enemies of journalism
and those who want to persecute journalists that
there will be no consequences in terms of their relationship
with the United States, at least under the
Trump Administration. And, that’s incredibly
destructive and detrimental to
press freedom.>>Absolutely. And I just, you know, to add
the journalist Austin Tice from Texas has been
missing seven years. So you know, the fact that he’s
a journalist has not made him a high priority for sure. So the Trump Administration
has been really felt the return of hostages a victory. But, on the other hand, have,
has been problematic certainly with the press and made it
less safe to be a journalist in the United States,
in my opinion.>>Our last question comes from public policy undergraduate
student in the room. How are you anticipating
how the landscape of hostage taking will
evolve in the coming years? And, how do you think
policy makers and practitioners
should proceed?>>So I thought about
this deeply. And, here’s my response. Hostage taking comes in waves. If you look at it
historically, it’s a response to a specific conflict. And, the policy is always
made or a specific set of geopolitical circumstances. And, the policy is
always made in response to the last hostage crisis. So that is unfortunate. So what can we say
for the future? Here’s what I will say. Hostage taking is a
feature of conflict and it will never go away. It is part of conflict. There has to be certain forces
that align in order for us to see an upsurge
in hostage taking. That will take place
at some point. We don’t know when and we don’t
know what the circumstances will be. So I’m not going to make a
specific prediction other than to say this is a problem, this is a issue we’ll be
grappling with in the future. And, in terms of policy, I
would just say, you know, the lessons from the past are
don’t lock yourself in a box. You know, look at
the circumstances of each hostage taking,
be creative, you know, balance the strategic
considerations with the humanitarian consorts. Look for creative solutions. Always, always, always
support the families. Those are the lessons
for the future.>>And, that’s the way I feel. I just feel that our
country should have the backs of our talented Americans that
are going out in the world. And, if we don’t, it’s going to
be a worsening problem I think. Because, it is a tactic
that I think a lot of these other governments who
hate us and criminal gangs, terrorists are finding a very
useful ploy with our country to in fact, you know, capture
innocent Americans and use them as political pawns for
what they want from us. So I think, and that is
one of the priorities of the James Foley
Legacy Foundation is to prioritize the return
of our citizens and to, as Margaux said, to be
a watchdog if you want, but also work with
our government and third party experts
to make this a reality.>>And, there is interest on
the Hill, for that student who asked that question. There is draft legislation
that would seek to codify the current U.S.
Hostage policy called the Bob Levinson Act named for the
American, what is reported to be the longest
held hostage in Iran. So there’s a lot of interest. So we’re just trying to continue
to raise awareness of this issue and engage the American people
to have them push our government to do what must be done
to help these Americans. Thank you both.>>That’s a perfect segue
Margaux and thank you Joel and Diane and Margaux for
a stimulating conversation. I, after these events,
we often get questions because people want to
know what they can do. As you walked in today,
on the table outside, there were a number
of pieces of paper that we encourage
you to take with you. The Committee to Protect
Journalists has information out there about their
global work. We have information from
the James Foley Foundation and from Wallace House. I want to thank our partners
at the Ford School here because they allow us to have
these policy discussions here. And, so much of what we talk
about, even about journalists and the atmosphere
and the rhetoric around journalists
is so surface level. And, it’s just about
expressing anger or frustration. And, these conversations allow
us to go multiple levels deeper and really think about what
we can do to impact policy. We’re wearing buttons
that say free Austin Tice. Austin Tice is an American
Journalist who’s been captive now for seven years. Two weeks ago, if
you want to come and move the screen up here. Two weeks ago, the
National Press Club in Washington organized
a day of action on Capital Hill encouraging
people to ask their representatives
about Austin Tice. Part of what is helpful in these
situations is just keeping a hostages name public so
that there is pressure for our government to engage with the family, to
act in their case. And, so there’s information
out there about the Ask About Austin campaign. Certainly, if any of you
would like to write a letter to our representatives or
anyone, any representative around the country to bring
attention to Austin’s case, we as a journalism organization
certainly support that. And, for the James
Foley Foundation, I want to draw attention to
the James Foley Freedom Run. It’s going to be happening this
month on October 19th and 20th. There are teams running all around the country
and the world. It’s a 5K. You can walk or you can run. We have a team of nine Wallace
Fellows who will be running here in Ann Arbor in memory of Jim. And, I love this visual that
the foundation has created for this run. Because, certainly, they are
running for Jim’s memory. But, when we talk about
this issue, we’re talking about freedom and safety
of the press broadly and about many journalists who have been killed
and held captive. And, so whoever you
want to run for is okay. The act of running or
walking and participating in this helps draw
attention to this issue. And, so this question I run
for Jim, who do you run for? We hope that you’ll think
about that and encourage people to look at the Foley
Foundation website page and put together some groups of
people here who will be running for Jim and for the freedom
and safety of the press. And, we’ll be here, as
always after our events to continue talking to
you about these issues. We hope to see you at more
Wallace House Presents events this year. In your program you, we
have a list of events that we have coming up. And, these conversations
are important to us because we’re journalists. But, as Diane pointed out
numerous times, thank you, it’s important to us
because this is a democracy that we are trying to protect. And, journalism is core to protecting our
democracy and our freedoms. I have on a button
that was inspired by President Schlissel here, it says journalists
champions of the people. We encourage you to take
one of these buttons. There’s another button out there that simply says uphold
democracy support journalists. Very simple thing to do. And, so we thank you
for coming today. We thank you for
being here and helping to inform us on this topic. And, we hope we will bring
more American’s home safely. Thank you. [ Applause ]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *