In the aftermath of the beheading of American journalist James Foley, reports have emerged detailing the ransom requests ISIS made in the days and weeks leading up to the heinous execution. While the United States, in theory, does not negotiate with terrorists, former CBS anchor Dan Rather said he would be “looking to negotiate for ransom.”
During a wide-ranging interview on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Rather admitted the nonnegotiable stance makes sense in so far as it deters hostage taking in the first place, but that does not mean he is adverse to the practice.
“[W]hen it’s your son or daughter, when it’s someone in your organization you have worked with, it’s a whole different thing. And I can’t blame anyone for trying to ransom a journalist out,” Rather said. “If some member of our Dan Rather Reports team was kidnapped, I would be looking to negotiate for ransom. You can criticize me, if you want, damn me if you want, but the loyalty to our people who work with us and take these great chances engenders loyalty back.”
On radio this morning, Mike Broomhead filled in for Glenn and reacted to Rather’s comments. While Rather attempts to come across as “selfless” in his remarks, Mike believes he misses the point entirely.
“Okay, what about the long-term consequences,” Mike ask. “[He is] trying to sound like he’s very selfless in what he’s saying… What about the message you are sending? What about the danger of down the road as these things escalate? We have already seen what happens when people perceive us as weak.”
When you consider the outcome of the Iran hostage crisis, Mike’s point becomes clearer. President Jimmy Carter’s Operation Eagle Claw failed to secure the release of the 52 hostages held at the U.S. embassy in Tehran in April 1980. Less than a year later, just moments into Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the hostages were released.
“If you remember, the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, they let those people go. That was not by accident. There was a reason why they taunted Carter, and there’s a reason they didn’t mess with Reagan,” Mike said. “Terrorists are nothing more than gang bangers… and if you negotiate with them while they are in a position of power, it emboldens them.”
“If Dan Rather can live with himself for saying that, that’s fine,” he continued. “But we either deal with the threat when it’s a threat, or we pass it off onto someone else all in the name of peace.”