Hostage taking, as a way to achieve "leverage," is a tried and proven technique. For instance, Minwoo Yun, author of Understanding Global Terrorist Hostage Taking and Kidnapping, has this to say about what has become an increasingly common practice:
Terrorist hostage taking and kidnapping has become an international concern in recent years. Since the mid 1990s, hostage taking and kidnapping have dramatically increased as a preferred tactic of political terrorists.
That could be the rationale upon which the Administration is basing its inhumane conduct, but if that explanation is correct, pursuing this policy qualifies all those involved as "political terrorists."