A spokesman for the family of Steven Sotloff, who was beheaded by ISIS, sharply criticized the administration for its handling of the hostage crisis, suggesting the Obama administration has lied about the facts of their imprisonment and treated the families of the hostages poorly.
Speaking with CNN’s Anderson Cooper Monday night, Barak Barfi, who was a close friend of Steven Sotloff, appeared to indicate that the administration was trying to make it seem as if a rescue operation would have been more difficult than it was, asserting that the administration has portrayed the hostages as being “moved frequently” when in fact they were “stationary” for quite some time.
Barfi characterized the relationship between the administration and the Sotloffs as “strained,” saying it didn’t provide the kind of “cooperation” the family needed.
In a statement released in response to Barfi, the White House appeared to subtly suggest the accusations were generated out of emotion:
“We understand the very real pain the Sotloff family is feeling at this time,” said spokeswoman Caitlen Hayden. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them as they grieve Steven’s loss.”
From Barfi’s remarks:
The administration has made a number of inaccurate statements. They’ve said that the families have been consistently and regularly informed. That is not true.
I speak now only from the Sotloff family. I can’t speak for the other families.
They said that these hostages were moved frequently. We know that for most of the beginning of this part of this year they were stationary. We know that the intelligence community and the White House are enmeshed in a larger game of bureaucratic infighting and (murdered journalist) Jim (Foley) and Steve are pawns in that game and that’s not fair.
If there continues to be leaks, the Sotloff family will have to speak out to set the record straight . . .
The relationship between the administration and the Sotloff family was very strained. We do not believe that they gave us the cooperation we need. Once Steve appeared in that video, the Sotloff family made one simple request of the administration and they were rebuffed on that. I can’t say (what it was) because I have to think about protecting the other hostages inside.
When your view into the largest and most powerful government in the world is two FBI agents, that’s simply not enough. The administration could have done more, they could have helped us, they could have seen them through.
These are people of modest means. They’re not cosmopolitan, they don’t have college educations, they don’t understand the larger ramifications in foreign policy. And we just do not believe that they were afforded the opportunities and the respect that they should have by this administration . . .
We believe that these so-called moderate rebels that people want our administration to support, one of them sold him probably for something between $25,000 and $50,000 to ISIS and that was the reason he was captured.
Barfi said the administration needs to better coordinate between its own agencies and with our allies on matters related to the hostages and should appoint a single, senior individual to serve as a point of contact for the families.