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Biden, Sullivan Under Fire For Callous Indifference to U.S. Hostages Abroad

Posted on Thursday, December 23, 2021
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AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris

Biden-Sullivan

After four years in which Donald Trump famously made the retrieval of American hostages abroad a point of personal pride, his successor is coming under fierce criticism from the constituency that cares the most—the hostages’ families. Family members are speaking out about Joe Biden’s indifference to their loved ones being wrongfully detained—and many are also pointing fingers at his embattled National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan.

In August, with Joe Biden’s disastrous evacuation of Afghanistan fully underway, Sullivan promised “safe passage” for Americans trying to escape the chaos, assuring the country that everyone who wanted to leave would be able to. Nearly five months later, dozens of Americans are still trapped there, even as the Biden administration has grown more reluctant to provide updates on recovery efforts. In recent weeks, reports have emerged that these people’s family members, as well as others with loved ones trapped in more than a dozen countries around the world, have grown increasingly frustrated with the Biden administration’s lack of action.

The White House’s, and specifically Mr. Sullivan’s handling of wrongful foreign detainment cases has been a constant subject of public criticism throughout Biden’s first year in office. In February, early in the administration, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken held a call with families of loved ones held abroad, promising “transparency in our communications with families” and that their cases would be a “top priority in our diplomatic engagements with both allies and adversaries.”

However, some families are complaining about not being able to speak with President Biden or Mr. Sullivan directly, in contrast to the treatment they had received under the last administration. Sullivan in particular is a key player in all negotiations with foreign countries, including over hostages and Americans detained abroad.

According to reporting from Axios, multiple hostage advocates believe that Mr. Sullivan is deliberately preventing the details of hostage cases from reaching President Biden in order to prevent “emotional decision-making” – the latest in a series of accusations that Biden’s staff are trying to “protect” Biden by keeping key information from him. If true, such action would amount to a serious breach of trust and dereliction of duty from the president’s top national security aide.

Families of hostages are finding other ways of breaking through, though, and forcing Sullivan and Biden to pay attention to their fight to get their loved ones back. In late October, the families of 26 Americans trapped abroad penned an open letter to Biden urging immediate action. “We need to be shown that the promises of your administration to prioritize the return of our family members are not empty,” the letter reads. “Now is the time for action. Now we need you to bring our fellow Americans home.”

The letter also referenced the February call with Secretary Blinken, but added that “as of this letter, so many of us remain in the same situation, or worse, more than 8 months later… we have not been able to meet with you or even with your National Security Advisor to discuss our loved ones’ captivity.”

Earlier this month, Sullivan did finally agree to hear out their concerns by hosting a video call with family members. But participants left saying they still felt as if many of their questions weren’t answered. One family member said that Sullivan and other Biden administration officials on the call “made a concerted effort to not focus on any specifics” – hardly the sort of treatment that would make someone with a loved one trapped in China or Venezuela feel heard. Elizabeth Whelan, whose brother Paul Whelan has been detained in Russia since 2018, pointed out that families often know more about the cases than the government officials who are supposed to be handling them.

In short, it doesn’t appear as if Sullivan’s phone call is likely to placate those family members who participated, and the issue will continue to be a problem for President Biden and his national security team moving forward – particularly as growing aggression from American adversaries like Russia and China make more hostage situations increasingly likely.

The Biden administration’s struggles to bring back Americans detained abroad is also quickly becoming a significant point of divergence from four years of successes under the last administration.

Soon after taking office, Trump publicly declared his commitment to bringing Americans home, and over the next four years strung together an impressive series of high-profile recoveries. In a captivating video from the RNC convention in 2020, several of those former hostages sat alongside President Trump and told their stories about their captivity and rescue thanks to Trump’s efforts. In total, the Trump administration succeeded in bringing back more than 50 hostages from 22 countries, sending a strong signal to the world about the importance of every American life.

Key to this effort was Robert O’Brien who, prior to becoming Trump’s National Security Advisor, was the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Negotiations. Trump cited O’Brien’s qualifications as a negotiator upon tapping him for the job, further indicating the importance of the issue to Trump. While in the position, O’Brien took the opposite approach from Sullivan’s thus far, keeping in close personal contact with families and providing frequent updates to the President.

In fact, Trump and his team were so successful that even the liberal media reluctantly lauded their efforts. Vox called the release of three American hostages from North Korea a “big win” for Trump. The New Yorker said Trump’s hostage negotiation successes were “exaggerated” but nonetheless an “achievement worthy of applause.” Even the Washington Post begrudgingly admitted that Trump “deserves some credit” – before, of course, saying that he wasn’t doing enough.

Trump realized – as Joe Biden, Jake Sullivan, and the rest of Biden’s national security team apparently do not – that securing the release of an American held abroad is about far more than just bringing home one U.S. citizen. Such action makes a much broader statement about American strength, that our government will go to any lengths to protect every one of our people, and that our country is not to be messed with. Trump articulated the principle as “No American Left Behind.”

Sullivan may think that prioritizing hostages undermines other national security interests, but the truth is that not prioritizing hostages sends a message to the world that the United States is weak and can be bullied into submission. Americans saw the disastrous consequences of weakness in Afghanistan and are continuing to see the same in Ukraine and, to a lesser extent, Taiwan. If the Biden administration truly wants to restore an image of American strength on the world stage, a good place to start would be rescuing trapped U.S. citizens and lawful residents longing to return home.

Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio.

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PaulE
PaulE
2 years ago

Jake Sullivan’s background is as a Harvard academic who wrote white papers on what he believes United States foreign policy should be. All from a far left perspective. He literally has never done anything of any real substance or consequence in his life as it relates to the real world. So one shouldn’t be surprised that he is in way over his head in his current position within the Biden administration. Much of this administration essentially in over their heads and are simply winging it as they roll out one leftist policy after another with predictable results.

Anthony Blinken, the current Secretary of State, is the same person who spearheaded Obama’s disastrous Iran Nuclear Deal. Which essentially boiled down to giving the Iranians whatever they wanted, including plane loads of cash in the middle of the night, so Obama could claim one foreign policy win during his two terms in office. So it is unrealistic to expect Blinken would be able to offer either sound foreign policy advice related to how to handle Afghanistan or actually be able to negotiate anything of substance with the Taliban. The Taliban leadership may be nothing more than 7th century savages with machine guns, but they are neither stupid nor incompetent. Both traits that Blinken seems to possess in abundance.

As for Biden, well what can anyone honestly expect from a man that spent his whole career in politics and has been consistently wrong on every foreign policy issue he has ever been presented with? Even if he weren’t mentally challenged with dementia, he likely would carry out the evacuation of Afghanistan in the exact same way again, as in his mind everything was done perfectly. Biden’s skillset, such as it is, revolves around the means to personally enrich himself and his family by selling access to whatever office he ever held. Much like the Clintons and other politicians in Washington have done over the years. Unfortunately, that isn’t a skillset that is now particularly useful in extricating the hundreds of Americans who now find themselves trapped and abandoned in a hostile country intent on killing all infidels.

This administration has no interest in restoring an image of American strength on the global stage, as the author suggests. That is just wishful thinking on the author’s part. Biden and the members of his administration clearly prefer the “lead from behind” approach that was popular with the Obama administration. America and its citizens need to be punished for the preceived sins the left constantly claims exist, but in reality are merely part of the larger effort to destabilize and weaken the country. As such, situations like the growing threats against Ukraine, Taiwan and other nations around the globe are only likely to increase and worsen over time. Elections, no matter how fraudulent, still have consequences. We have at least 3 more years of this to endure and our enemies around the world will take advantage of every second of it, if an opportunity presents itself.

Bill on the Hill
Bill on the Hill
2 years ago

This article clearly shows ( 2 ) key differences with respect to the current nefarious uncaring administration of Biden versus the Trump administration. Antony Blinken & Jake Sullivan are simply to old holder overs of the Obama era or to put it with less charisma, both are as ” useless as tits on a boar hog. ”
Trump with his key people in place, in this case, key negotiator O’Brien in bringing home hostages actually cared about his mission in bringing home hostages & maintained a close contact with the hostages immediate family members, in other words Trump & his team members cared…
Looking at the current madness coming out of this WH is nothing short of a bunch of witless idiots running around like chickens with their heads cut off, i.e. nothing tangible ever gets done, period…
The American people see it as does the rest of the world…They see an entirely different America under the current illegal occupiers in Washington, DC…
The United States now ranks DEAD LAST in terms of countries that can be trusted or counted on…
Afghanistan was under control & we were set to leave in a orderly manner under President Trump with ZERO American deaths for ( 18 ) months, now enter the incognizant & rapidly approaching senility of Joe Biden even whilst he sat in his b/ment during the presidential campaign, nevertheless as promised by Nancy Pelosi, Trump will NEVER get reelected & Biden will become the 46th POTUS. The rest is history my friends & here we are, close to a year into this never ending madness…
Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to one & all as we prepare to recognize the birth of of our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ…
Bill… :~)

Kat
Kat
2 years ago

Mr Sulivan and Pres Biden need to look at these people as if they were THEIR family members.and “get their a—- in gear” and get them back to the US asap. What a disgrace!!!!!!!

Chief601
Chief601
2 years ago

The reason they are keeping info from Brain Dead Joe is that he is incapable of making a rational decision, in my opinion.

Rik
Rik
2 years ago

Biden has his head up his butt! . . . No surprises here!

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
2 years ago

Been indifferent & bias & uncaring day 1 of Afghan debacle

Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
Kyle Buy you some guns,and learn how to shoot
2 years ago

My best x-mas present would be to get rid of Biden permantly. Kyle L.

James Thompson
James Thompson
2 years ago

Biden doesn’t care about America or any of her people!

Shirley
Shirley
2 years ago

The truth of the matter is that America is weak under our present administration. Obama saw to that by firing any military commanders that might object to liberal ideas and replacing them with his plants. Same with other government institutions. He set up America for Communist/Globalist takeover. I am not surprised that Biden/Obama plants are not interested in American citizens that are being held captive. They are not interested in what the majority of Americans believe here in this country. What they do believe in is dominance and power and the subjugation of citizens to their efforts to change us from having religious beliefs so that they have complete control. This is Communist doctrine. There are steps to achieving this.They are more concerned with making people afraid of Covid and keeping people apart (especially around holidays) so that there is no discussion of their unconstitutional actions. I feel sorry for those trapped in other countries-they don’t care about them or their families.

Mike Schaffer
Mike Schaffer
2 years ago

If the families of the trapped Americans would organize and pool their money perhaps they could hire Hunter Biden to use his influence to get their loved ones home safely. This is not sarcasm it would be great press for Hunter to do this. His dad might be of more assistance in this manner.

Judy
Judy
2 years ago

My heart goes out to these families and their loved one’s being held captive in enemy regimes. If any in their families are members of AMAC and read through these comments, I would just like to tell them that I, myself, and others I know are praying for them. That I hope they keep strong in their faith toward God because this ungodly illegitimate administration has no competance. God does not turn His back on His faithful followers. God knows everything we’re going through and He has told us to wait upon Him for the answers. Even though we suffer, we are to remember to be thankful for all His blessings in our lives, and also to forgive those who persecute and wish us harm. I pray God’s will for a happy outcome for the hostages and their families. God is good, it is us who need to remind ourselves that He controls everything. I am thankful that those families have real hope in God knowing that His will is in righteousness and all holiness.
Dear God be with the hostages, strengthen them, keep them in your care.
And,
Lord, please help our country, be with those who are taking stands, like Governor Ron DeSantis against this evil regime over us. God in Heaven, please help us be the faithful followers you need us to be, and thank you for watching over us and those we love.
In Jesus’s blessed name, and for His namesake I pray, Amen.

LiamL
LiamL
2 years ago

If you invited me into your home and there was a bad man outside and I gave the bad man your guns and tactical gear while leaving your children outside to be attacked when I could have brought them into safety and kept the weaponry- you tell me what would happen. This is what Biden did in Afghanistan and it’s ‘politics’.

Hal
Hal
2 years ago

Biden is batting 100 per cent in his presidency so far … 100% wrong on any and everything he has done. I guess his Democraps are really proud of him. I truly believe citizens of America will waken to his ineptitude and guidance (towards Communistic governance) and boot him out of office in the next election (if he runs). But I also think any Democrap that runs for POTUS or Congressional seats will lose ground also. And the News Media will meekly start printing real news as opposed to a lot of Liberal Democrap propaganda.

BAE
BAE
2 years ago

Biden’s staff of fools is so gullible and uninformed, it might be funny; but it’s too serious.
It a few short months they have done sooooo much damage. It will take a long time to
recover.

Jim Jolly
Jim Jolly
2 years ago

Don’t remember such a incompetent bunch of lieing morons in our government.

Curtis
Curtis
2 years ago

Obama’s third term is showing how disgusting and self serving many of the Democratic Party are.
Biden is merely a brain dead puppet and the entire cabinet right down to the press sec are despicable and disgusting, not to leave out the leaders of the Democratic Party.

Mike
Mike
2 years ago

JB just stated that America is in better shape, than it was with the previous administration / President Trump’s administration. I can’t stand the lies anymore. What he has done in such a short time is disastrous for our country. Leaving Americans behind in Afghanistan? This is swept under the rug by our outstanding , so called journalists in the mainstream media. How sad for these families. I couldn’t imagine the pain. It sends a signal to the whole world that we’re cowards. I’ve listed all the wrongs that JB has done in previous articles on this site. The list is even longer now. We have a bunch of failures in the House, Senate, and White House. Republicans are in the mix too. It seems like only a handful of Republicans do their job for “ WE THE PEOPLE “. Sad times, but I’m optimistic that we’ll get through this cluster _ _ _ _ . Vote in 22, and 24. Merry Christmas!

Hal
Hal
2 years ago

China Joe Hidin’ Biden is the most disgusting and inept POTUS in my octogenerian lifetime. No one else is even close … but Obummer was closest IMO. Neither one (Obummer or Buck Fiden) acted Preside;ntial …. more like they were Godly seemed to fit their “style(?)” and duty perceptions”. And I have to say Buck Fiden is the more dangerous as it affects the Nation’s future. What did Dela Wear? A Biden learning cloak of ineptitude!!!!

Karen
Karen
2 years ago

Biden and Sullivan don’t know what they are doing. They better get with it. Just another idiotic problem we have to deal with. Do something you failures. We’re tired of your miserable leadership (if we can call it that). Get off the stick and do your da-n job!!!!!

Secret Service agents rush Donald Trump off the stage.(AP: Evan Vucci)
President Joe Biden greets President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, Wednesday, November 15, 2023, at the Filoli Estate in Woodside, California.(Official White House Photo by Carlos Fyfe)
President Joe Biden speaks on the phone with Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to discuss his approval of a FEMA disaster declaration in response to the impacts of Hurricane Beryl, Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

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