This past Sunday, President Obama played his 200th round of golf as president of the United States. And tragically, it has been just over 200 days that Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, a decorated U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran, has languished in a Mexican jail.
In April, Tahmooressi crossed the southern border at San Ysidro by mistake after taking a wrong turn; he was stopped by Mexican officials who found three U.S.-registered guns in his truck. Since Mexico has extremely strict firearms laws, he was taken into custody.
In response, several U.S. government authorities have shown diligence and commitment to the cause of securing Tahmooressi’s release. The U.S. State Department has maintained an open line of communication with the Mexican government on the matter, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee has advocated forcefully for the Marine’s release.
Yet missing in action is the voice of Tahmooressi’s commander in chief—President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaThe US should give peace a chance when it comes to North Korea Obama photographer gets book deal Time for GOP panic? MORE. When will the president weigh in on behalf of this decorated combat veteran held unjustly in foreign captivity?
Six months into Tahmooressi’s captivity, the president has yet to place a phone call to his counterpart in Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to discuss the matter and to urge the Marine’s release. But from the president, nothing is heard and when asked, the president’s spokesman punts responsibility to the State Department.
Nor has the president even picked up the phone to contact Tahmooressi’s mother, Jill, who has worked tirelessly on her son’s behalf and recently testified before a Congressional subcommittee about her family’s plight (a hearing at which I also testified on Tahmooressi’s behalf, along with talk show host and Marine veteran Montel Williams).
But the president’s time is limited, one might argue, since he has to deal with a deteriorating situation in the Middle East, a potential Ebola epidemic and countless worries both domestic and global.
True enough—but one can’t help but to notice that Obama’s tight schedule still allows him plenty of time to attend fundraisers where he rubs elbows with wealthy Democratic donors and Hollywood A-listers like Gwyneth Paltrow. And he certainly hasn’t allowed any global disturbances—like terrorists beheading an innocent American journalist or an Ebola briefing—to keep him from playing golf.
But the president can’t jump into every issue that pops up in the news cycle, you say. Perhaps—unless you consider how many issues the president has given his personal attention over the years. This president is inordinately fond of injecting himself into events that a wiser leader would have sidestepped or left to others.
In his first year in office, he flew to Copenhagen to personally lobby for Chicago’s failed bid to host the 2016 Olympics; since then he’s hosted “beer summits,” commented openly on legal cases in the news (like the Trayvon Martin shooting) and carved out time in his schedule to film a pro-Obamacare video for the humor website “Funny or Die” with comedian Zach Galifianakis.
President Obama is perfectly content to apply the weight of his office to advance the causes he cares about. So his failure to wield his power on behalf of Sgt. Tahmooressi raises a pointed question: Does he even care?
Earlier this year, Obama laid down a strong standard for detained service members. In May, the president stood in the Rose Garden to proudly announce that his administration had negotiated the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from captivity in Afghanistan, trading five terrorist killers to the Taliban in exchange for a soldier who reportedly deserted his front-line unit less than two months into his first tour of duty.
Yet the president was unequivocal in defending the moral dimension of the negotiation, stating clearly that “the United States of America does not ever leave our men and women behind.” He added: “We also remain deeply committed to securing the release of American citizens who are unjustly detained abroad and deserve to be reunited with their families.”
It’s past time he applied that same standard – and the same amount of influence – to secure the release of Sgt. Tahmooressi.
The president famously declared that he could get things done without Congress, because he wields the power of “a phone and a pen.” Mr. President, a decorated Marine combat veteran who served his country with honor and distinction needs your help—it’s time that you pick up that phone and bring Andrew Tahmooressi home.
Hegseth is the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America and a Fox News contributor. He is an infantry officer in the Army National Guard, and has served tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay.