On Dec. 21, it was announced that former Marine Sgt. Jon Hammar was going to be released by Mexican authorities who had been holding the Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran on trumped up ‘gun-running’ charges for nearly 2 months, chained to his bed in squalid conditions.
Now, as he recovers from the ordeal and a nasty case of dysentery, the former Marine discloses details of the horrendous experience and the constant death threats he faced.
(This was recorded three days prior to Sgt. Hammar’s release.)
Gary Graham: Ken, let me hear your knee-jerk reaction to when you heard this story.
Ken Wahl: Here’s what I got out of it. He had served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, he had some kind of old antique shotgun, I don’t know what it was exactly, but he registered it with the authorities. They told him at the border he’d done everything legally, he was on his way to Costa Rica …
Graham: And he made it through ...
Wahl: The Americans on the U.S. side told him, Okay your papers are in order, everything’s fine, you should have no problem. So he gets to the Mexican side – and he had a problem. So he showed them his papers; everything was supposedly fine – but they arrested him anyway. And my knee-jerk reaction was … this kind of thing happens because other countries do not respect us anymore. I think they know that Obama wasn’t gonna do anything. And of course that played out to be true, where Obama said he couldn’t do anything about it. What, are you kidding me?
Graham: Until … enough people squawked and made a noise and [the story] went viral.
Wahl: Until the pressure got so great, that it had to be done. And that’s one thing I tweeted this morning … big government is so inefficient or so unwilling to things that are really important, but we the people were able to get this guy out.
Graham: Yes. And it’s a good thing. But it’s also telling about our leader. As Maggie Thatcher used to say,[paraphrased] “You don’t lead by consensus.” You don’t stick your finger into the air to check [the direction of public opinion] … you lead! You lead by principle.
Wahl: That’s right. It was disgusting to me the way that it was not handled. And you can go all the way back to ‘[Speak softly and] carry a big stick.’ That whole thing. And that’s what America’s always stood for. And it’s like, around the world we have just completely lost our stature. They know, ah the Americans aren’t going to do anything. What’re they gonna do? With our current administration … they’re so worried about offending any foreign entity. That they can get away with murder – literally and figuratively.
Graham: It seems we’re more interested in being liked than being respected.
Wahl: Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more with that. And that’s Obama all over.
Graham: That dovetails back to our initial conversation about discipline at the home, dealing with your kids. If you look at world leaders, often they behave like kids, really. If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. And who wouldn’t? It’s just human nature. And foreign are constantly doing this; they’re testing our readiness, our defenses, and more, our willingness. Our nerve.
Wahl: Our mettle.
Graham: Yes. Testing our mettle.
Wahl: And you know, the thing is … in Asia … in Europe … you would expect this more. Mexico is our neighbor -- and is supposed to be our ally. You would expect this in North Korea; but you wouldn’t expect this from Mexico, our southern neighbor and is supposed to be one of our best allies.
Graham: This thing should have been handled with a single subdued phone call from a minor low-level deputy diplomat in the State Department, to somebody who got the word to the [Mexican] President, who should have slapped these people down. And gone to these Federales and said, “Hey man … you guys want to end up in prison? Let this guy out!”
Wahl: That’s it. It should have never even made it to the news. We should not even be talking about this. We should not even know about it.
Graham: You know what? I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed for the U.S. of A.
Wahl: As an American it is embarrassing. That these guys down in Mexico, taking this guy over completely trumped-up charges … and you know they’re just doing it because, “Obama doesn’t want to piss off any Mexicans...”
Graham: Yeah, and the irony is … their charge was that he was ‘gun running.’
Graham: Maybe our State Department said, “Oh gee, we’re sort of in a lot of hot water over this gun running thing [with Fast & Furious] … so let’s just ignore this thing and maybe it’ll just go away. Faster & Furious..er.
Wahl: Let’s call it … ‘Slow & Not That Angry.'