Jon Hammar is a name that should be familiar with all Americans. For those who don’t remember, Jon is a U.S. Marine who was imprisoned in Mexico for four months in 2012. Mexican authorities arrested Jon on August 13th 2012 at the Texas-Mexico border on weapons charges when he crossed into Mexico.
While Jon and his traveling companion were headed to Costa Rica in the motor home, he had his great grandfather’s shotgun which he did inform both U.S. and Border Protection officials about. Jon also said he checked at two border crossings because he wanted to do things legally and even obtained a registration form for the gun at one of the crossings.
After his parents complained to the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros of gang threats including beheading against their son, he was moved out of the general prison population to a loosely guarded cage, where he spent months with his ankle handcuffed to a bed frame.
Numerous U.S. Representatives and Senate members including GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami spoke about Jon’s case on the House floor and made his case known. Fellow Marines demanded his release and members of Congress called for a boycott of Mexican tourism. Finally Jon was released a few days before Christmas on Dec. 21st 2012.
Sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?
U.S. Marine Andrew Tahmooressi’s story is a similar one. Andrew, also a native of Florida, has been held since he accidentally drove into Mexico from California late March 31st. He became disoriented from poorly lit street signs and not being familiar with the area, didn’t have a chance to make a U-turn before crossing the border. He was carrying all of his possessions, including three registered guns which are legal in the U.S., but not in Mexico.
Andrew is a decorated Marine Sgt. who served honorably during two tours in Afghanistan. Even though he saved his pay during his time in Afghanistan, he is now broke from legal fees paid and is awaiting yet another hearing in August to find out if he will spend the next 21 years in a Mexican prison, or finally be allowed to come home. Fellow Marines who have served with Andrew and many who have not, along with concerned citizens and politicians have been asking since March for the Obama administration to intervene. So far other than referring his case to the State Department, it seems again nothing has been done by Obama.
Overall, Obama seems to not care about Veterans who have been harshly dealt with by foreign powers. Take the case of former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen born in Arizona and raised in Michigan who was arrested in August 2011 in Iran, then tried, convicted and sentenced to death for spying. Iran’s Supreme Court annulled the death sentence after Amir’s appeal and ordered a retrial in 2012. The country’s Revolutionary Court then overturned his conviction for espionage, instead charging him with “cooperating with hostile governments” and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
Amir has been in captivity in Iran for over 1000 days now and is working on another appeal to get the sentence over turned. As U.S. and Iran have been working close together on a few different issues, this past November the Obama administration asked Iran to free Amir Hekmati and two other Americans believed held there. Amir’s family lives in the Flint, Michigan area and claims he only went to Iran to visit his grandmothers. The U.S. government repeatedly has denied that the 31 year old is a spy, yet he is still in Iran.
Granted Amir’s case is much more delicate than that of Andrew Tahmooressi’s, so more diplomacy is needed, yet in Andrew’s case, and even Amir’s, there is Title 22 of the United States Code, paragraph 1732 which reads,
“Whenever it is made known to the President that any citizen of the United States has been unjustly deprived of his liberty by or under the authority of any foreign government, it shall be the duty of the President forthwith to demand of that government the reasons of such imprisonment; and if it appears to be wrongful and in violation of the rights of American citizenship, the President shall forthwith demand the release of such citizen, and if the release so demanded is unreasonably delayed or refused, the President shall use such means, not amounting to acts of war and not otherwise prohibited by law, as he may think necessary and proper to obtain or effectuate the release; and all the facts and proceedings relative thereto shall as soon as practicable be communicated by the President to Congress.”
In Andrew’s case, it is completely reprehensible that Obama has yet to act, considering Mexico’s own actions. Mexican military members have made numerous incursions into the U.S, and have even fired upon U.S. Border patrol agents. We now also have the invasion of MS13 and other criminals pouring in among all the ‘children’ which the U.S. is housing around our country.
Finally, another family’s life hangs in the balance between freedom and imprisonment. A few months ago I wrote about U.S. Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance who enlisted in the Army on his 18th birthday.
In 2012, Clint was in charge of a platoon stationed near a terrorist hotbed and a Taliban friendly village in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. The former platoon leader was killed, as were others of the unit because of insurgent attacks. Intelligence reports at the time showed that terrorists had been riding red motorcycles and implanting IEDs. They were also well known for use by suicide bombers who drive themselves into groups of innocent civilians or military patrols.
Clint Lorance and his unit came under enemy fire their first day out. The second day, while patrolling a road which intelligence reported as often used by the enemy, three men on a red motorcycle sped towards their position. Clint had to decide whether to let them go by and hope these weren’t terrorists or doing what he and all of our military are trained for during war, engage in a fight. He gave permission for his men to fire at the motorcycle, killing two of the three men. Because of ROEs, which were created by Obama’s administration in 2009 (specifically the “counter insurgent strategy” or COIN), Clint Lorance was charged with the “crime” of saving his platoon and countless others. Clint is still facing a 20-year sentence at Ft Leavenworth for violating Obama’s rules of engagement which includes the directive to “hold fire unless fired upon.”
It’s sad and indicative of our present administration that Clint’s case was brought to trial less than a year after he was charged with two counts of murder, one attempted and harsh language towards Afghanis during combat- compare that to Ft. Hood Islamic murderer Nidal Hassan whose trial began 4 years after murdering fellow soldiers and civilians on base, and during that time he was still getting paid.
For Bowe Bergdahl, accused by fellow soldiers who knew him as a deserter, Obama handed over 5 top terrorists and secured his release, putting Special Operations Forces members in more harm while overseeing the tradeoff. Bowe is now back at “work” at a base in Texas and has yet to be charged with desertion.
During his years in captivity Obama had plenty of opportunities to work for his release. Other terrorists have also been set free under this administration, including the self-proclaimed Caliphate leader of ISIS, Abut Bakr Al-Husayni al-Qurashi al-Baghdad who was held at Camp Bucca Iraq by U.S. Forces.
1st Lt. Clint Lorance fought for others’ freedom, and now his own freedom is being threatened unless somehow the charges can be overturned or dropped. Clint’s mother Anna Lorance has kept updates on the petition page she created and is working for his release. Clint’s entire adult life has been serving the U.S. honorably and doesn’t deserve to be incarcerated for saving the lives of others during combat. He is not the first who has faced with prison time; others have been serving time and/or have been paroled in Leavenworth. We can only hope and pray they will be the last.
General John A. Wickham Jr. served as operations officer of the 1st Battle Group, 5th Cavalry, in Korea and commanded the 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Division, in combat in Vietnam where he was seriously wounded. He later returned to Vietnam as the Deputy Chief of Staff, MACV, and was responsible for negotiating release of all prisoners of war. He is highly decorated and was named by Army Times as one of the “ten leaders who most changed the Army.” He is attributed to have said, “Let the blood of the infantry flow through your veins, or the blood of the infantry will be on your hands.”
It is clear that the present administration has no idea what the General meant by that–and it’s also clear that Obama, who has never served in any capacity other than as a community organizer, has any concern about our troops and veterans, especially not those who have served and are serving honorably.