Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The many ways in which the French gov’t is dead wrong to pay ransom for hostages

During the summer, the Best Defense is in re-runs. Here are some favorites that ran in late 2012 and in 2013. This item originally ran on Feb. 11, 2013. Vicki Huddleston, a former U.S. ambassador to Mali, says that the French government paid $17 million to ransom French nationals in recent years. She further alleges ...

Romaric Hien/AFP/GettyImages
Romaric Hien/AFP/GettyImages
Romaric Hien/AFP/GettyImages

During the summer, the Best Defense is in re-runs. Here are some favorites that ran in late 2012 and in 2013. This item originally ran on Feb. 11, 2013.

Vicki Huddleston, a former U.S. ambassador to Mali, says that the French government paid $17 million to ransom French nationals in recent years. She further alleges that these payments funded al Qaeda-linked operations in Africa.

The French are wrong to do this. Not just mildly wrong, but massively wrong. Not only are they funding terrorism, they are increasing the chances that their people will be nabbed.

During the summer, the Best Defense is in re-runs. Here are some favorites that ran in late 2012 and in 2013. This item originally ran on Feb. 11, 2013.

Vicki Huddleston, a former U.S. ambassador to Mali, says that the French government paid $17 million to ransom French nationals in recent years. She further alleges that these payments funded al Qaeda-linked operations in Africa.

The French are wrong to do this. Not just mildly wrong, but massively wrong. Not only are they funding terrorism, they are increasing the chances that their people will be nabbed.

I say this as someone who feared getting kidnapped in Baghdad. This was at a time when Iraqi criminals supposedly were nabbing people and then selling them to al Qaeda. I was once in a group of reporters summoned to the Green Zone for a briefing from an American security official. He informed us that Baghdad was the most dangerous city in the world, that we were the most lucrative targets in the city, and that he thought we were nuts. Thanks fella!

Bottom line: I felt that my best defense was the U.S. government policy of not paying kidnappers. I still do.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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