Slain American Warren Weinstein's Congressman Wants 'Hostage Czar'

Rep. John Delaney said he is frustrated that hostages are not a higher priority.

ByABC News
April 23, 2015, 5:54 PM

— -- The congressman who represents the family of slain American Dr. Warren Weinstein in the House of Representatives is crafting legislation to create a “hostage czar” who would be empowered to cut through bureaucracy in order to maximize the capabilities of the U.S. government to deal with hostage situations.

“There should be no tolerance for a bureaucracy when it comes to dealing with an American held overseas,” Rep. John Delaney, D-Maryland, told ABC News in an interview in his office today.

“We have these other czars within our government who get empowered to do things. At a minimum we should have one of those for Americans who are held hostage and that person should really make sure they have the capabilities and the team that are needed," Delaney said.

Weinstein, an American held by al Qaeda since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian national who had been an al Qaeda hostage since 2012, were "accidentally" killed in a U.S. operation in January, the president acknowledged today.

“There needs to be more effort focused on how do we coordinate the vast resources and capability of the U.S. to bring these hostages home, and it needs to be one of our absolute top priorities,” Delaney said.

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The second-term congressman said he was “heartbroken” when he learned of the tragic developments once the family was briefed Wednesday.

“It's just so disappointing and heartbreaking because Warren's situation has been really tough for a long time,” he said. “We now know he spent the last several years and died probably in some cinder block room on a dirt floor, and it's just terrible. It's a terrible way to end what has been a terrible chapter for Warren and his family.”

Delaney not only urged investigators to examine how the building that housed the hostages was deemed a safe target, but also to analyze whether the government is “doing as good a job as we can to get these people home.”

“Are we doing enough to find these people? Because if we know where our hostages are, we have two things come from that: One we can begin the process of trying to get them home ... but secondly, we also know not to bomb in that area because we know they're there,” Delaney said.