There’s only so much diplomatic pushing you can do while the prisoner is still on the wrong side of the border, but there needs to be a serious reevaluation of our relations with Mexico after this. Following all these months of imprisonment, Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi is back in the United States.
After 214 days in a Mexican prison, Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi crossed the US – Mexican border Friday night, boarding a private jet for Florida shortly after 9 p.m., after a strong diplomatic push convinced a judge to release the former Marine on humanitarian grounds.
His release comes after a lengthy trial and a Congressional hearing in September highly critical of Obama Administration efforts to secure his release and Mexico’s refusal to let him go. Tahmooressi said he made an innocent mistake the evening he crossed into Tijuana with three weapons in his truck on March 31.
While his defense rested its case several weeks ago, Tahmooressi’s release came only after a strong diplomatic push from former Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Matt Salmon (R-AZ).
While not mentioned in the initial splash, also part of the delegation to Mexico was … Montel Williams. (I’d been wondering what Montel was up to when he wasn’t shilling for payday loan companies.)
There needs to be some sort of meeting of the minds between the United States and Mexico, because this entire episode is beyond outrageous. There has yet to be a single item offered up by Mexican authorities to indicate that the original incident was anything other than what had been described by Tahmooressi. He took a wrong turn in his truck and wound up at the border by accident. He wasn’t a drug mule. He wasn’t a human smuggler. He wasn’t a gun runner, though he had a few of his own personal – and legal – weapons with him in the truck. Holding one of our Marines for this long should have serious diplomatic repercussions for the Mexicans.
The other insulting aspect of how this was resolved was the acceptance of Mexico’s description of it as a humanitarian release. The Marine suffers from PTSD and the judge ostensibly acquitted him because he requires care which was unavailable in Mexico. While Tahmooressi deserves and should receive all the treatment and support he needs as one of our returning war veterans, this rationale carries with it the implication that Mexico was correct to pursue the case all this time, but they’re doing us a favor because they’re such nice, caring people. And that’s a load of horse hockey.
Enrique Peña Nieto should be publicly apologizing to Tahmooressi, his family and the entire nation. If he doesn’t wish to do so, we need to be taking a look at the more than three quarters of a billion dollars in aid we send to Mexico each year. This country made a big show for months on end for “apprehending” one of our Marines and “bringing him to justice” when they can’t even keep tabs on the mayor of one of their own cities who arranges for an entire class of students to disappear courtesy of drug lords, possibly to turn up in a mass grave.
There are limits to how polite we need to be in the name of acting like good neighbors. And Mexico is not being a good neighbor in this case.