Article from HollandSentinel.com July 7, 2014
by Bob Ashby, Community Columnist
(Holland, Michigan) As of July 2, there were at least seven Americans being held by foreign governments. None of them are being imprisoned for anything recognized in the United States as a crime. All of them were arrested for activities guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution as civil liberties. All of them were legally in the host country.
Andrew Tahmooressi is languishing in a Mexican jail. He was arrested after a wrong turn at the border. Tahmooressi had crossed over with legally owned firearms and declared them to the border police immediately. This is the same country that has been guilty of more than 500 incursions into the United Stated by armed military and police over the past 10 years.
Alan Gross is serving a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba. Gross was arrested in 2009 while working as a subcontractor with the U.S. Agency for International Development. He was working on establishing Internet access for Cuban Jews in Havana.
North Korea now holds three Americans. Jeffrey Fowle left a Bible in his hotel room while traveling with a tour group. Kenneth Bae, a devout Christian, was arrested with almost no reason given at the time; his family has hinted that he may have been carrying some religious material. Most recently, Matthew Miller was detained after entering North Korea and tearing up his visa.
Three men are victims of Iran. Pastor Saeed Abedini was arrested in 2012 while building an orphanage. He was subsequently condemned to an eight-year prison term and has already endured severe beatings. Former Marine Amir Hekmati was condemned for “enmity against God” and for being a spy for the CIA. Robert Levinson disappeared from Iran’s Kish Island in 2011 and has not been heard from since.
All of these cases have one thing in common: a tepid if not timid effort by the Obama administration to demand their freedom.
In the case of Tahmooressi in Mexico, the State Department is dealing with a supposed ally that is allowing human traffickers, drug cartels and thousands of unaccompanied children to invade the United States without consequences.
For the Obama administration, this all seems to be a matter of political utility and diplomatic cowering. When Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl (his genuine rank at the time he walked away from his unit) was exchanged for five terrorists, it was a matter of political calculus with the potential for huge costs to America in the future. But President Obama seemed to believe that Bergdahl was worth it.