March 25, 2008

Odd behavior...

Puzzling stuff about Mr Obama, from Richard L. Benkin, concerning bipartisan congressional efforts to free a moderate Muslim leader and freedom fighter....

...In fact, I approached about 15 percent of the House and a handful of Senators: Democratic, Republican, left, right, moderate; you name it. And every one of them reacted with support; every one of them, that is, except one. Who was the one lawmaker that took a pass on saving the life of an imprisoned US ally and opponent of Islamist extremism? That's right, my own Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

I first met with his staff in April 2005 in his DC office. Keep in mind this was the same week that Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) spent hours learning about the case and then met well after "working hours" in a very difficult meeting with the Bangladeshi ambassador and me to secure Shoaib's release. I brought Obama's staff extensive documentation of the injustice, as well as other evidence of Shoaib's activities; we spoke for quite a long time, but they never called back. In fact, they ignored all my subsequent follow-up contacts. But it was, after all soon after his election; perhaps early disorganization was to blame.

Yet, I spoke personally with Obama 13 months later at a general meeting hosted by Obama and Durbin. To my delight, when my name was mentioned, Durbin responded immediately with praise and support, saying that it was "an important human rights case," and asked to see me privately about the matter. I spoke with to both him and Obama, who at his best moments looked quizzical and confused. While Durbin later sent a formal protest to the Bangladeshis, Obama never responded; nor again did he or his staff reply to my subsequent entreaties.

I spoke with Obama one other time about Shoaib's case, less than six months later. I reminded him or our last encounter, gave him an update on the case, and asked for his support in one of any number of ways. He hesitated a moment then held out his hand and said, "Well, we're sure happy for all the work you are doing." Propriety prevents me from verbalizing what I was thinking then. I offered to send him more information, which he asked me to do. And, guess what, I never heard back despite the reams of evidence I did send.

Barack Obama wants us to think that he has a special sensitivity to injustice and that his entire life has been about combating it. Yet, in this one concrete situation he faced, he failed to act. The fact that not one of the dozens of other lawmakers failed speaks volumes. The fact that support was never contingent on ideology speaks volumes. I often wondered if his refusal to act was strategic, ignorant, or simple cowardice. No matter, the impact on Shoaib Choudhury was the same, as it would be on any freedom fighter...

One has to wonder what was going on his head. It would seem like a no-brainer, to join in something like this...

Posted by John Weidner at March 25, 2008 9:24 AM
Weblog by John Weidner