The Daily Beast has learned that President Obama will put one official in charge of policy for how to rescue American hostages overseas. James O’Brien will be named as “special presidential envoy for hostage affairs.” The move comes after months of disjointed and failed efforts to save hostages held by the Islamic State terror group—administration officials and family members criticized as hampered by inter-agency squabbling. In November, Obama ordered a review of U.S. hostage policy.
O’Brien is vice chairman of Albright Stonebridge Group, a consulting firm led by former top U.S. diplomatic officials. Prior to that, he served at the State Department in various positions from 1989 until 2001, including as the special adviser to the president and the secretary of state for Balkan democracy. He was also a senior adviser to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, now one of the chairs of Albright Stonebridge.
— Shane Harris