By Justin Worland
November 18, 2014

President Barack Obama has ordered a review of how the United States responds to Americans who are detained abroad, according to a recent letter from a Pentagon official to a member of Congress, in the wake of several high-profile hostage cases with terror groups.

The letter from Christine Wormuth, undersecretary of defense for policy, came in response to an inquiry from Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and outlines that emphasis will be placed on themes including “family engagement, intelligence collection, and diplomatic engagement policies.”

The government’s refusal to pay ransom has been publicly debated in recent months following the executions of Americans by the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. Hunter’s letter was dated Aug. 20, one day after a video emerged of the beheading of journalist James Foley. A similar video appeared in September showing the death of journalist Steven Sotloff and, this past weekend, of American aid worker Peter (Abdul-Rahman) Kassig.

On Monday, according to ABC News, National Security Council Spokesman Alistair Baskey said the “comprehensive review” would include the FBI, Departments of Defense and State and larger intelligence community.

Read more at ABC News

Write to Justin Worland at justin.worland@time.com.

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