President Obama has appointed James O'Brien, an associate of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, to be the first Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs, the White House announced Friday. O'Brien is now vice chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a business consulting firm chaired by Albright. O'Brien previously worked at the State Department as a negotiator. The envoy for hostage affairs post was created earlier this summer after a review of U.S. hostage guidelines. The envoy is expected to coordinate the federal government's response when an American is taken hostage. Families who have lived through the ordeal often complained that they were treated harshly by U.S. government officials and even threatened with prosecution if they explored the option of paying ransom for the release of their relatives.
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