On my vacation, I am reading Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s book in anticipation of Bret’s and my interview with her next week.
She writes about an American (John Yettaw), a vet (like you know who in that Mexican prison), who deliberately (not accidentally like you know who in the Mexican prison) violated twice (not once like you know who in that Mexican prison) the laws of the repressive country Myanmar (not our neighbor and ally, the democratic Mexico.) Yettaw was sentenced to 7 years of hard labor.
And what happened? What did America do? and what did that repressive country do? Passage from Secretary Clinton’s book – here is what she wrote:
“…When I [Clinton] heard the news (about John Yettaw violating the laws of Myanmar), I too was furious…..reckless actions of one misguided American. Still because he was an American citizen, I had a responsibility to help him. I called Senator Webb [Democrat] and Senator McConnell [Republican] to strategize. ” [page 107 of Hard Choices]
And the result? Senator Webb went to Myanmar and brought John Yettaw home. Read the NYT article from 2009 below.
And my thought? Don’t tell me that the Obama Administration with help from Republicans can’t get Sgt Tahmooressi home NOW. He has been languishing in a Mexican prison since March 31 for an accidental turn, not a deliberate crime. They and we need to remember, Sgt Tahmooressi went out of his way to help us – two deployments to Afghanistan (including a vehicle hit by an IED and he suffers from PTSD.) He has waited long enough for us to bring him home…
August 17, 2009
American Held in Myanmar Is Released
By SETH MYDANS
BANGKOK — An American man who was sentenced in Myanmar last week to seven years of hard labor for intruding at the home of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader, was released Sunday and left the country together with a visiting American senator, Jim Webb.
The release of the American came one day after Mr. Webb, a Democrat from Virginia, met with the leader of Myanmar’s ruling junta, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, and with Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi, who was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months of house arrest.
At a news conference in Bangkok on Sunday, Mr. Webb said the meetings and the release of the American, John Yettaw, were gestures that could be helpful as part of the foundations for a relationship “of good will and confidence building so that we can have a better situation in the future.” Although he said he was not an emissary of the administration, Mr. Webb’s visit came at a time when the United States was exploring the possibility of a more cooperative relationship with the military junta. Mr. Webb said he would discuss his trip with State Department officials when he returned to Washington.
For decades, Washington’s policy toward the junta has been confrontational and punitive, with an ever more elaborate package of economic and diplomatic sanctions in reaction to the generals’ human rights abuses and political repression.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said that the administration is exploring options for a more fruitful relationship, saying neither sanctions by Western nations nor engagement by Myanmar’s neighbors has affected the junta’s behavior.
In an indication that diplomatic contacts have already been under way between the two governments, Mr. Webb said Mr. Yettaw’s arrest had “set back” the process toward more cooperative relations. Mr. Yettaw, 53, appeared tired but smiled as he and the senator arrived at a Bangkok airport. Mr. Webb said Mr. Yettaw “is not a well man” and was receiving medical treatment in Bangkok. He had suffered seizures before Tuesday’s verdict, and Mr. Webb said he had had a “medical incident” on Sunday when he was released.
“I believe what happened was regrettable,” Mr. Webb said. “He was trying to help. He’s not a mean-spirited human being.”
Mr. Yettaw, of Falcon, Mo., had been sentenced to seven years of hard labor after swimming across a lake and spending two days at the home of Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi in early May.
Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, 64, was convicted and sentenced at the same trial along with two housemates for violating the terms of her house arrest in connection with Mr. Yettaw’s intrusion.
An initial sentence of three years at hard labor for all three women was commuted to house arrest by Gen. Than Shwe in what many analysts saw as a reaction to international criticism.
At the news conference, Mr. Webb emphasized the importance of China, Myanmar’s powerful patron in the region, in resolving the country’s problems. Mr. Webb has been a longtime advocate of greater engagement with Myanmar. It was not clear from his remarks at the news conference whether Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi agreed with him.
“We had a very long discussion about when they work and when they don’t work,” the senator said. He said Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi did not make a statement regarding the continuation or softening of sanctions. “She would prefer to wait to have a unified statement from her party at large,” Mr. Webb said.