October 2, 2014
The Arizona Republic
I don't know why Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi was carrying three weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition when he crossed over the border into Mexico in March.
But I do know as a result of Tahmooressi's experience that the Obama administration sees some errant U.S. soldiers differently than others.
Tahmooressi has sat in jail across the border for months now. He claimed he made a wrong turn in his truck. He said that when approached by Mexican police he went to great lengths to make sure they knew he had the weapons and the ammo.
That's not to say he hasn't acted erratically. He told the Mexican police he had never been in the country before he made his wrong turn. In fact, that very day he'd checked into a motel in Tijuana. He has tried to escape from prison twice. Once, he slashed himself with a broken light bulb. He has said some things from his Mexican prison that just plain sound odd.
What's all this say about this Marine who did two perilous tours in Afghanistan? It really doesn't require a lot of imagination. In fact, it requires none. Tahmooressi has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and his experience in Mexico is making it infinitely worse.
The administration says it has been monitoring Tahmooressi's circumstance carefully. Secretary of State John Kerry has discussed the matter with his Mexican counterparts. They think he may get released soon. The administration is not unaware of Tahmooressi. It is not blase about Tahmooressi. Not precisely. But the administration also clearly is not about to expend a lot of political leverage to push the Mexicans to send Tahmooressi back.
There is no getting around the Bowe Bergdahl parallel here. With Bergdahl, who walked away from his post in Afghanistan, President Obama was personally engaged. He kept the soldier's family closely informed of developments. From the way it looks, the sergeant's determined mother, Jill Tahmooressi, has been pretty much out there on her own stumping to get her son freed. The Bergdahl-Tahmooreessi enthusiasm gap at the White House is nothing if not noticeable.
Why the difference? I really can't say for sure. But Bergdahl represented an opportunity for Obama to off-load terrorists held at Guantanamo. Tahmooressi offers no such upside. Tahmooressi also seems to have captured a lot of support from the military-minded far right, including some who started proposing a "raid" to spring the Marine from prison. Rambo types. Just a guess, but I don't think Obama is keen on being seen siding with Rambo types.
But he clearly thought of Bergdahl -- for all appearances a deserter in combat -- as some kind of American hero. And he does not see Sgt. Tahmooressi the same way.
Obama once believed, mistakenly, that all Americans would welcome Beau Bergdahl back, regardless of the circumstances surrounding his disappearance. He was bringing a lost soldier back He was wrong. He seems to have learned from his mistake.
There is a similar, distinct, lack of enthusiasm among people of the Left to get Andrew Tahmooressi back from Mexico. You can feel it in oped pieces like this one. His mother's efforts to free her son are the products of "spin." He's not stuck in solitary confinement. He's living in a correctional facility approved by the American Correctional Association.
All the people calling for his release seem to be Republicans like Arizona's Rep. Matt Salmon and Ted Poe of Texas. You would think that a war hero obviously troubled by PTSD would garner the sympathies of everyone. But that's not the way it works these days.