Thanks Ymar, hat tip to Bookworm Room… I hadn’t seen this.
I doubt that if it came right down to it, but the description of Richard Benkin’s interaction with the man is troubling.
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.
Now, I don’t think we can blame Obama for this. I don’t think that he doesn’t care. What I think is that he was a first term Senator and hadn’t yet learned to keep track of people and causes or managed to make sure that his staff was on the ball and doing their jobs to follow up and make sure that he was reminded. I don’t think he didn’t care about this person… I trust that Obama is a decent human being who cares about the downtrodden, abused, and persecuted. Certainly he cares about freedom! I think he was probably just overwhelmed.
For two years.
Ought to make a smashing Prez, eh?
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