The Nation: How to Play the Waiting Game

Dealing with eccentrics and crusaders who seize hostages is one of the most delicate tasks in police work. Since their motives and personalities obviously differ, there are no standard methods for dealing with them. The Israelis believe in force: "Storm them as soon as you can," says one of their anti-terrorist experts.

U.S. police have developed a different approach: keep talking, keep calm, wait them out. All of the FBI's 59 field divisions have agents who have had special training at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. It is the FBI policy that only if the hostages seem in...

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