House Republican: If Tahmooressi Isn’t Released, Mexico Will No Longer Be Treated as our Friend

Amanda Muñoz
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Posted: Oct 01, 2014 7:55 PM
House Republican: If Tahmooressi Isn’t Released, Mexico Will No Longer Be Treated as our Friend

2014 – April 5: “Mom. I am not going to make it through the night. There are hit men in the cell with me and they told me they are going to kill me. Whatever you do, do not come down to ask questions or investigate because they are going to kill you, too. Change your bank accounts and go underground. Your life is in danger.”

2014 - April 14: “Mom. I tried to kill myself because the guards and the inmates were going to rape, torture and eventually execute me for information.”

2014 - May 1: “Mom. I have been chained by 4 points, strapped spread eagle to the bed in the infirmary for 25 days.”

- Jill Marie Taahmooressi, recalling quotes from her son, Sgt. Andew Paul Tahmooressi, before the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere - October 1, 2014

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Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee headed back to D.C. on Wednesday for a hearing to examine the case of Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, who was arrested earlier this year on charges of weapons and ammunition possession in Mexico.

Townhall’s Katie Pavlich sums up his run-in at the border here:

Tahmooressi was arrested in Mexico after admittedly making a wrong turn at the border. It was a mistake. When he was pulled over by military officers, he said he was lost and declared firearms legal in the United States were in the vehicle. Instead of turning him around back to the U.S., soldiers arrested him.

Appearing before the committee were Tahmooressi’s mother, Jill Tahmooressi; Lieutenant Commander Montel B. Williams, USN, Retired; Sergeant Robert Buchanan, USMC, Retired; and Chief Executive Officer for Concerned Veterans for America Mr. Pete Hegseth. All testified on behalf of Sgt. Tahmooressi, speaking on his character and imploring immediate action from Congress and the White House for his release.

Sgt. Buchanan, a Purple Heart recipient, made the following comments about being deployed with Tahmooressi:

“He was truly one of the best junior marines and machine gunners I’ve ever served with. This was a Marine who received a combat meritorious promotion. This alone speaks volumes to what kind of individual Andrew is, and contests to his character. To be promoted meritoriously in combat is truly an honor amongst Marines and is not given lightly.

"On Andrew’s last deployment he saved the life of a fellow marine by securing tourniquets on him after he stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) causing him to lose both of his legs. It’s in these moments that a man’s true character is tested.”

Sgt. Tahmooressi has been detained for just over six months, and has been diagnosed, by multiple doctors, as suffering from PTSD.

“The San Diego Veterans Affairs hospital diagnosed Andrew with combat PTSD less than ten days prior to his arrest at the Mexican border. Andrew’s PTSD has resulted in hyper-vigilance, memory and cognition lapses, and depression,” Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) told the committee.

Since learning of his condition and incarceration, House members took action in whatever ways they could. Chairman Royce and Subcommittee Chairman Matt Salmon (R-CA) visited Tahmooressi at La Mesa Penitentiary in Tijuana. Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced H.Res 620, which calls for “the Government of Mexico [to] immediately release United States Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi and provide for his swift return to the United States” for medical treatment. The resolution, which mainly serves as a symbolic expression of the House (and Senate, if passed) and has no real enforcement mechanism, currently has 81 bipartisan co-sponsors. Additionally, Representative Tom Marino (R-PA) wrote a letter to the Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. questioning the international partnership and has yet to receive a response.

“You, your son, and veterans deserve more, have a right to more, and we need to see that that is accomplished,” Marino told Jill Tahmooressi during the hearing. “I apologize for how inappropriately you have been treated, and I apologize for the inappropriate level of concern by the White House…I’m disappointed that you have to be here today, ma’am. And I’m disappointed that vets have not received the appropriate care that they should be receiving in this country.”

All of the witnesses spoke with concern for the general welfare of returning veterans, citing the backlog of patients waiting to be treated by the VA and the daily suicides of troubled troops.

Lt. Cdr. Williams adamantly said, “No ifs, ands, or buts, our veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan often feel absolutely abandoned by our government, and I believe they have a reason to feel so…We know for a fact that Sgt. Tahmooressi’s time in this prison has been worse than his time in both combat situations…How dare we, how dare we, as a nation, hesitate to get that young man back.”

And in what seemed to be a unanimous sentiment, members of the committee blasted the Obama Administration for its lack of response. Tahmooressi’s mother testified that she had yet to receive a call from the President. In addition, the State Department provided very little help to her in securing an attorney. The first, which was obtained through a website referred by the Department, had to be replaced for lying to the Mexican court.

“My son has faults, but lying isn’t one of them…We could not proceed with the lies,” she said.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) quipped that Ms. Tahmooressi should go play a few rounds of golf, so that she could secure some of the president’s attention. Royce made clear that he had notified Vice President Biden of the situation, but still had heard nothing from the White House.

This is the world we live in: The President of the United States negotiates with terrorists, releases five of them, and secures the return of a deserter who cost the lives of his fellow soldiers. He then hosts the family in the Rose Garden. The president makes phone calls to the U.S. men’s soccer team and to the San Antonio Spurs, but he cannot take 30 seconds to call the desperate mother of a war hero trapped and abused in a dirty, Mexican jail cell.

This is the world we live in.

Critics from the left say that it is hypocritical for members of Congress to demand that the Mexican judiciary system be circumvented to expedite Tahmooressi’s release. During the hearing, members of the committee reiterated their respect for and friendship with the Mexican government, but warned that this issue must be resolved soon.

“We define ourselves in a time of crisis. Andrew defined himself in a time of war: he became a marine,” Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) emotionally told the committee. “Mexico is defining itself to us today.” He continued by saying that if the issue is not resolved soon, “we can no longer treat Mexico as our friend.”

Subcommittee Chairman Salmon concluded the hearing by saying he was hopeful for a quick and positive change of events; however, he promised to work with House leadership on immediate legislative action if Sgt. Tahmooressi was still in custody when Congress returns after elections.