Obama Announces Shift in US Hostage Policy

Families will no longer be threatened with prosecution over ransom payments.
1:58 | 06/25/15

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Transcript for Obama Announces Shift in US Hostage Policy
Ohio, tonight. Now, to that powerful message from president Obama to the families of American hostages, including this woman right here, taken by the Taliban. Giving birth while in captivity. She's just one of 30 American hostages around the world tonight. Now, the president's new policy and his blunt message. "We let you down, and we will help." ABC's chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross tonight. Reporter: One after another, six Americans, journalists and aid workers have died in the hands of terrorists in the last year. And the president today admitted his administration had failed them and their families. It is true that there have been times where our government, regardless of good intentions, has let them down. Reporter: The parents of reporter James Foley had been the most vocal critics, telling ABC news, white house officials threatened them with prosecution if they tried to raise ransom for their son. It just made me realize that these folks talking to us had no idea what it was like to be the family of a kidnapped American. That's totally unacceptable. Reporter: Officials today said there are now some 30 Americans behind hostage by various groups around the world, including Kaitlin Coleman being held by the Taliban. Under the new policy, if hostage families raise money for ransom, the U.S. Might now actually help make it happen. The president was clearly moved by one question hostage parents had bluntly put to him. What if it was your daughter? Obviously, I would move heaven and Earth to get those loved ones back. These families have already suffered so much, Brian. And even though many can understand why families would want to pay ransom themselves, authorities still have concerns about that money? Reporter: That's right, David. There's concern that the new policy will make Americans even more attractive to hostage takers, and that's why the president made it clear today that U.S. Government policy is unchanged. The U.S. Government itself will not pay ransom or make concessions to terrorists. David? All right, Brian Ross live in Washington. Brian, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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