Ex-Captive Weir Raps Reagan for Lack of Action on Hostages
President Reagan has not taken as active a role as necessary to secure the release of five Americans missing or held captive in Lebanon, says ex-hostage Benjamin Weir, the newly elected moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Weir, a minister who was released last year after 16 months captivity in Beirut, said the Reagan Administration should understand that this is “a crisis that demands some new initiatives on their part.”
“I’d like to see the Administration open a direct line of communication with the captors to see what might be a possible basis for negotiation of their release,” said Weir, who lives in Berkeley. “I think that would be an important step forward.”
The hostage situation gets routine attention in the Administration, Weir said, rather than “the kind of critical attention it demands.”
Americans still missing or being held in Lebanon are Terry Anderson, 38, chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press; William Buckley, 58, a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut; Father Lawrence Martin Jenco, 51, a Roman Catholic priest from Joliet, Ill.; David Jacobsen, 54, administrator of American University Hospital; and Thomas Sutherland, 55, acting dean of agriculture at the American University of Beirut.
Weir, 62, who had been a missionary for 35 years in Beirut, said “there have been some discouragements recently, even some setbacks” that have made securing the hostages’ release more difficult. The U.S. attack on Libya was particularly discouraging, Weir said, because it created further hostility among Arabs toward Americans.