Majority says US shouldn't pay ransoms

Nearly two-thirds of the public say governments shouldn’t pay ransoms to terrorists in exchange for hostages, according to a Reuters/Ipsos survey released Tuesday. 

The poll found 62 percent said they support U.S. and British policies of refusing to pay ransom. Twenty-one percent, by contrast, said they disagreed with those policies. 

Obama administration officials on Monday said it insisted that Qatar not pay ransom to secure the release of Peter Theo Curtis, a U.S. journalist who was freed over the weekend after he was held hostage by Islamic extremist group al-Nusra in Syria. 

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State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the administration wouldn’t change the government’s long-standing policy against negotiating with terrorists and said paying ransom puts U.S. citizens “at risk.” 

The Reuters/Ipsos poll found most people said the U.S. should intervene in Iraq, though an overwhelming number said they oppose ground troops. Just under a third said the U.S. shouldn’t get involved at all, including sending weapons or humanitarian aid.

Thirty-one percent said the U.S. should provide humanitarian aid to refugees, and 21 percent said the administration should launch airstrikes to support Iraqi security forces. 

Twelve percent said the administration should fund and support a multinational intervention, and 11 percent said the U.S. should send special operations forces to Baghdad.

More than a third, 36 percent, said President Obama has set appropriate conditions for U.S. involvement in Iraq when asked about limited strikes and U.S. warnings it wouldn’t do more until Iraq embraces political change. 

The online poll surveyed 4,685 from Aug. 12 to 25 with a 1.6 percentage point margin of error.