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As I sat down to write this column this Sunday morning, I received a text from my friend, Charles Woods, asking me to please remember his son, Ty, who was killed at Benghazi as I celebrate the holiday this weekend with my family. My friend, we will #NeverForget. I promised you that when I met you, and we will all work with you to change the way this government treats our bravest in this country.
While the politicians in Washington, D.C., have tried to keep Americans distracted with issues they want to impose, Americans of all political stripes have risen up three times recently to remind them that ill treatment of troops will not be tolerated. This Memorial Day week, governments in two nations are getting pounded for their inaction regarding U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, and it is a beautiful thing.
Unlike government, regular citizens are willing to drop the race, gender, party-line rhetoric they are constantly told matters and stand in unity against an overreaching and simultaneously do-nothing government. The first uprising came when Americans learned that U.S. citizens, including an American ambassador and two Navy SEALs, were left behind in Benghazi. The second uprising occurred when Americans heard reports from brave whistleblowers about how our veterans were being mistreated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, literally dying while awaiting treatment. The third involves the plight of an American war hero suffering in a Tijuana jail. It is as pathetic that it is almost axiomatic that the D.C. elites put politics over principle, but it is also encouraging and beautiful to see how Americans will boldly demand better.
Radio host Wayne Dupree captured the misplaced priorities by beautifully observing that it takes “30 days to get a welfare check, and 300 days for a veteran to see a doctor.”
The elite in D.C. portend compassion for the little guy, but the efforts seem to be, as Dupree observed, reserved for “little guys” from useful voting blocks. Recent initiatives targeted women, the uninsured, black youth, Hispanic youth and labor unions. On the other hand, veterans are not seen as identifying with either party, so no particular party sticks its neck out for them. Welfare isn’t like that. Neither are Hispanics or women who want free birth control and abortions. So those are the little guys who receive the attention of the government.
The citizens of the United States have other priorities. We care about our veterans, rich or poor, black or white, male or female. While the current administration thinks there are exceptions to the bedrock principle that America leaves no one behind, Americans disagree.
Tahmooressi, 25, has seen two tours of duty in his young life. As Tamara Holder reported for FoxNews.com, while on the battlefield he saved eight Marines from the Taliban and another from bleeding to death after he stepped on an IED and lost his legs. He then suffered a concussion when his vehicle hit an IED, and today, in the Mexican prison where he has been shackled and alone for weeks now, he suffers from PTSD. Thus he has fought to save both Mexicans and U.S. citizens from terrorists. Who is going to help him now?
Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi was seized by Mexican guards at a border checkpoint and thrown in a Tijuana jail on March 31. His “crime” was taking a wrong turn (I live in San Diego and have almost taken the same wrong turn) and finding himself on a cloverleaf ramp circling into Mexico with no chance of exit. He stopped at the first chance to make a U-turn and immediately declared the weapons in his car and asked to be allowed to turn back to the U.S. He stands accused of attempting to smuggle guns into Mexico. The ridiculous charge assumes he was in Mexico. Technically, border cross points have a neutral zone, so he was not even in Mexico.
American jurisprudence is founded on European common law in which most seriously criminal behavior requires both a criminal act, or “actus reus,” and intent, “mens rea.” Assuming Tahmooressi even criminally smuggled guns into Mexico, his clear declaration of his guns to the Mexican authorities, coupled with his 9-1-1 plea for help to American authorities, eviscerates any notion that this was anything other than an American citizen making a wrong turn. In America, as with most of the civilized world, we do not throw people in jail with no opportunity for bail based on wrong turns coupled with full disclosure of our possessions.
We can all curse the Mexican government for its legal “system” rooted in the Dark Ages, but the tolerance of this abuse of any American citizen – particularly a war hero in need of medical treatment – by U.S. officials is what is particularly enraging. While the Obama administration may be tone deaf, busy or otherwise occupied by things it feel are bigger priorities, its body politic stands in full DEFCON 1 ready to go nuclear on both governments until Tahmooressi is released and made whole. We want immediate action and full assurance that this will never happen again.
In response to a call of action by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., on Greta Van Susteren’s show, “On the Record,” my Patriot Coalition friends in San Diego and I have joined forces with prominent New York liberal and Fox News contributor Tamara Holder in an effort to wake America up and #FreeOurMarine. We are holding a bipartisan protest at the border this Wednesday, May 28, imploring both governments that flank our border to listen to us and set Sgt. Tahmooressi free. All are invited to come stand with us for this brave soldier who has stood for us.
What a perfect post-Memorial Day commemoration, and what a way to thank a soldier. For Sgt. Tahmooressi, for Ty Woods and Glenn Dougherty, and for all who have bravely risked all to give us freedom – we stand.