President Obama Orders Full Review of Hostage Negotiation Policy

The review will look at how the U.S. government deals with American hostages.

— -- President Obama has ordered a comprehensive review of policy dictating how the U.S. government tries to secure the freedom of Americans held hostage by terrorists abroad, a senior Pentagon official revealed in a recent letter to a member of Congress.

The letter does not explicitly address whether ransom payments will be part of the assessment. The U.S. has a strict policy against paying ransoms to terrorist organizations, though many other countries permit direct payment.

“And as for kidnapping, the United States has set a heart-rending but absolutely necessary example by refusing to pay ransom for captured Americans. Last year the U.N. Security Council and the G8 firmly endorsed an identical policy, and all of the evidence shows that where and if a country is paid a ransom, there are many more people who are taken hostage,” Kerry said.

National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said today the Obama administration's "goal has always been to use every appropriate resource within the bounds of the law to assist families to bring their loved ones home."

"In light of the increasing number of U.S. citizens taken hostage by terrorist groups overseas and the extraordinary nature of recent hostage cases, this summer President Obama directed relevant departments and agencies, including the Departments of Defense and State, the FBI, and the Intelligence Community, to conduct a comprehensive review of how the U.S. government addresses these matters," Baskey added. "While we are not in a position to detail every effort or every tool we are using to try to bring American hostages home, we will continue to bring all appropriate military, intelligence, law enforcement, and diplomatic capabilities to bear to recover American hostages. Those efforts continue every day."

ABC News' Devin Dwyer and Luis Martinez contributed to this report.