White House spokesman defends unsuccessful attempt to rescue U.S. hostage Luke Somers in Yemen and that ''the thoughts and prayers of everybody here at the White House are with the Somers family.'' Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The White House said on Monday (December 08) that the attempted rescue of an American hostage in Yemen should signal extremist groups that the U.S. will not hesitate to expend significant resources to protect the safety of its citizens. A raid by American commandos in a remote area of Yemen on Saturday failed to secure the release of American Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie. Both hostages were shot as the raid unfolded. "It should be a clear and unmistakable signal to the militants in Yemen and to militants around the world that the United States and President Obama will not tolerate the unjustified detention and hostage-taking of American citizens. And we will expend significant resources to secure the release of those individuals," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, adding that the U.S. government was unaware of independent negotiations by South Africa to secure Korkie's release. Earnest said the Obama administration was conducting a diplomatic and military review of the manner in which it approaches the abduction of American hostages. The payment of ransom, which has long been prohibited under the policies of several American administrations, was not being considered as part of the review. The spokesman said there was an urgency to carry out the raid because Washington believed Somers' life was in immediate danger. "That's why the president acted quickly, that's why our special operators acted quickly. That's why we work quickly with the Yemen government to ensure that this was well coordinated. And that's what was necessary in order to try to save his life," Earnest said.