Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lessons From the Tahmooressi Case

This post is presented as written by New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson, in an opinion piece of the same title printed in the November 20, 2014 issue of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  It is not available on-line except for subscribers to the U-T newspaper.  I have faithfully transcribed every word, including capitalizations,  made by the former governor of New Mexico, presumably to confer honor upon the recipients thereof.

I chanced upon this information only upon buying a day-old newspaper in a grocery store in Oceanside.  I shall dispense with the customary italicization meant to describe quotation.  Hence, the entire op-ed by Governor Richardson as transcribed by Yours Truly, Flying Junior:

Lessons From the Tahmooressi Case
As I reflect on the successful effort to bring former U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi home after 214 days in prison in Mexico, I am pleased that despite the differing border security concerns that loom high in public perception and national policy in both countries, we were able to find the common ground that ultimately resulted in Andrew’s release.
There are two concerns, however, that remain in the American public’s mind that I would like to address; first, what took so long for Andrew’s release and, second, why Mexico deserves credit.  By addressing the underlying foreign policy issues behind Andrew’s case, I hope to answer these questions and provide a better understanding of the complexities that had to be overcome for his release.
In 2008, then president George W. Bush signed into law an agreement with Mexico – with great political and financial support from congress – known as the “Merida Initiative” which the State Department defines as a “partnership between the U.S. and Mexico to fight organized crime and associated violence while furthering the rule of law.”  Two key objectives of this initiative for Mexico were curbing illicit arms trafficking and judicial reform.
As a former border governor, I am familiar with stories about people making the wrong turn and winding up in Mexico by mistake.  This one, however, was seriously exacerbated by the fact that Andrew had guns and ammunition in his vehicle.  Furthermore, misleading advice from Andrew’s first two legal defense teams had tainted and weakened the “innocent mistake – wrong turn” defense, which made it very difficult to advocate for his release through diplomatic channels.
Mexico was facing a serious dilemma:  It had to decide whether to be consistent with the rule of law as established by the Merida Initiative or undermine the judicial reform’s credibility by what would be perceived by the Mexican public as making an exception, for the very partner that was funding and urging a stronger rule of law.
With that in mind, I started my work on Andrew’s behalf in June by sending letters to officials in the Mexican justice system seeking his release on humanitarian grounds, based on his need to return home to receive treatment for his PTSD.  This was a legal argument – not a political one—that could be used in court as an alternative defense to the wrong turn theory.  A week later I was happy to learn that he had obtained a stellar new legal defense team – and I was subsequently delighted to learn it had adopted the PTSD treatment argument.  It became central in the case’s dismissal and Andrew’s release October 31.
Although it took a long time to accomplish, the most important lesson is that Andrew is free because Mexico’s judicial reforms sought by the Merida Initiative are beginning to work.  Though there were significant flaws in the way the two countries interacted on the case, and though a devoted network of supporters led by Andrew’s mother, Jill Tahmooressi, including myself, U.S. Representatives Ed Royce, Matt Salmon and television personality Montel Williams continued to advocate on behalf of Andrew with the Mexican government and by bringing media attention to his story, it was Mexican legal due process  that freed him, not political expediency spurred by pressure from Mexico’s neighbor to the north.  It should be remembered that the U.S. has a great deal to gain by a firm rule of law taking hold in Mexico – and this case was brought to a successful conclusion in a way that strengthened that concept.
Some have criticized me for praising the Mexican government’s handling of Andrew’s case, but this was an important part of the process.  It built the good will that moved forward his release and even gained me permission to personally deliver him clothing so that he wouldn’t have to go through the humiliation of entering the U.S. in prison garb and allowed me to spare him an additional day in custody by substantially shortening his immigration processing before being handed over at the border.
I recently attended President and Mrs. Obama’s Salute to the Troops event at the White House in advance of Veteran’s Day.  Several Marines in attendance took it upon themselves to thank me for my work on Andrew’s release.  That’s the kind of response that makes it all seem so very worthwhile.
Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was governor of New Mexico from 2003-2010.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Making Political Hay out of the Misfortunes of a Supposed Hero

Update: Andrew Tahmooressi is now free. Back home in California. For further blogomania, please consult my friend Mike at http://mikeb302000.blogspot.com
Earlier this month, I told my friend Mikeb302000 about a former U.S. Marine from Florida who unfortunately and perhaps accidentally crossed the international border at San Ysidro into Mexico with all of his worldly possessions in his Ford F-150 pickup truck. Unfortunately, these possessions included three legally owned firearms. Understand that guns are illegal in Mexico. I accepted his version of events in his own words. He just got lost looking for a restaurant off of I-5, trying to meet his friends. Even if you do believe his story, the fact that he was driving around with unsecured weapons in the cab of his pickup truck in the city of San Diego makes him a careless scofflaw. Bear in mind that he is a soldier suffering from PTSD, a form of mental illness. I unfairly speculated that he might have been slightly under the influence of alcohol given the fact that he simply continued driving south all of the way to the border without noticing any of the signs about the approaching international border, the last freeway exit into the U.S.A. and even a last ditch U-turn designed to give drivers one last chance to remain upon U.S. soil. Mike was kind enough to create a post from my tip. I was hoping that the regulars would get worked up about the injustice of it all. They did not completely disappoint. Now, three grueling weeks later, FOX has decided to release their take on all of this nonsense just in time for the Memorial Day Weekend. The headline is “Leave No Man Behind.” Obama has abandoned this poor soul, when just one phone call from the DOJ or the American Consul could have released this defender of freedom from the ravages of the Tijuana penitentiary system. The article by a FOX contributor does not seem to agree with the earliest press release from the San Diego Union-Tribune which reported that he attempted an escape and then subsequently attempted suicide while incarcerated. He was reported to have been doing much better in his incarceration when the prison provided him with an English-speaking chaplain. I am sorry, but it is difficult to view the U-T article without a paying subscription. Since there is really no way of confirming or denying any subsequent facts, FOX has chosen to say that originally he was chained by both arms and legs to his bed, and that now he only has to be chained by one leg by the Mexican prison guards. I mean, why not lie, if there is no way to check the facts? Much as the leftist blogosphere thrived under the sadistic presidency of GWB, FOX has no apparent reason to exist other than to spread hatred and lies about our president. This was just too good of an opportunity to pass up. Make hay while the sun shines!