After the major broadcast networks offered no morning or evening news coverage of jailed Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi’s mother testifying before Congress on Wednesday, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes concluded his primetime show All In by discussing the case with retired U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander and former talk show host Montel Williams (who also testified).
In describing the case, Hayes determined that Tahmooressi’s plight has become a “kind of cause célèbre in conservative media” (instead of suggesting that it deserves to be a national one). [MP3 audio here; Video below]
Following a small monologue of what he knew about the situation, Hayes told Williams that “this case is heartbreaking, it's horrible to imagine what this guy's going through,” but “[h]e's being charged under the Mexican judiciary system. We just can't, like, bust into a Mexican prison and break him out.”
Williams then responded and was clearly not amused. He mocked Hayes by saying that “[y]eah, it’s really funny that we can say this,” before correcting him on his argument that there is little the U.S. can do since Tahmooressi was not active duty. Williams stated that the U.S. government had diagnosed him with PTSD both the day of and week before he was arrested and “[e]ven though he's not active duty, he served two tours in Afghanistan” and was “being treated in his reserve status” when he was flown to San Diego “under military auspices.”
Next, Williams went about correcting Hayes on the circumstances of his arrest and why the U.S. government should do more to ensure his release:
He was in Mexico. He left Mexico and came to a parking lot which is right outside the border, and there have been multiple people, including Congressmen, who have gone down and followed the exact same path. This young man is diagnosed by our government, diagnosed by the Mexican government for PTSD....He left, he said to his mother, he got freaked out a little bit while he was in Mexico. He knew he had to get out of there and why? Because, you know, people suffering from PTSD have a hypersense of awareness around them. They have a trigger point. If he was triggered in Mexico and got in his car, I’m going to tell you, he probably didn't even see the signs [marking the Mexican border]
When the liberal host became flustered and tried to create a hypothetical situation where the tables were turned and the U.S. had captured a Mexican citizen and asked Williams again to respect "a Mexican judicial process,” Williams countered by bringing up how the U.S. government hasn’t done anything to turn away “60,000 illegal children who come in this country” and instead “give[s] them medical care...no matter what their illness is.”
You do not treat a mentally ill person this way. We've got to stop acting like soldier who ran amok. He's been diagnosed with combat PTSD. I've been trying to make this point all day because people don't understand. This is not a guy whose just sitting around depressed.
The full transcript from the segment that aired on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes on October 1 can be found below.
All In with Chris Hayes
October 1, 2014
8:54 p.m. Eastern
MONTEL WILLIAMS [SPEAKING TO HOUSE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS]: Sergeant Tahmooressi's time in this prison has been worse than his time in both combat situations. He's going to come back to the United States and have to be treated for his combat PTSD, but also his incarceration PTSD and, to me this is an abomination. Six months. He didn't hesitate to say “aye, aye, sir,” to go off and serve. How dare we, how dare we as a nation hesitate to get that young man back?
CHRIS HAYES: Talk show host and retired Lieutenant Commander of the U.S. Navy, Montel Williams testified earlier today for a House Committee on Foreign Affairs focusing on the case of 25-year-old Marine veteran Andrew Tahmooressi. Tahmooressi was apprehended on March 31 of this year driving across the Mexican border with three loaded weapons and more than 400 rounds of ammunition. He's now on trial in Mexico for the possession of those weapons and if convicted, faces up to 21 years behind bars. Tahmooressi contends he accidently missed the last exit on Interstate 5 and accidently crossed the Mexican border. His mother, a nurse, says that Tahmooressi suffers from PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, following two tours of duty in Afghanistan. According to the San Diego Tribune, two Mexican psychiatrists who have individually examined Tahmooressi for the defense and prosecution concurred this week that he suffers from combat-related PTSD. Since being in custody, Tahomooressi’s tried to escape by climbing over a gate and tried to kill himself when he grabbed a light bulb and stabbed himself in the neck. This case has become a kind of cause célèbre in the conservative media, particularly during Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl controversy. As you may recall, Sergeant Bergdahl’s released from the Taliban was secured by the Obama administration in June after working with the Qatari government. In the case of Andrew Tahmooressi, he is not active duty and was apprehended on normal criminal circumstances in a neighboring country, both the Mexican and U.S. governments say he is being held under the due process of Mexican law. Joining me now is Montel Williams. Great to have you here.
WILLIAMS: Great be here.
HAYES: Ok, so, first of all, this case is heartbreaking, it's horrible to imagine what this guy's going through. It seems to me – I'm not a lawyer – the best result would be for him to be released back to the U.S., it didn't seem he did anything horrible, no one got hurt, he said he’s made a mistake. That said, the U.S. government will say, “look, we visited him 22 times. He's being charged under the Mexican judiciary system. We just can't, like, bust into a Mexican prison and break him out.”
WILLIAMS: Yeah, it’s really funny that we can say this. First of all, I want to correct you on one thing. The U.S. government has declared and diagnosed him with PTSD. They did so the week before he was arrested, they did so the day he was arrested. He was flown to San Diego under military auspices. Even though he's not active duty, he served two tours in Afghanistan. He's being treated in his reserve status right now, but that reserve status was where he was diagnosed at.
HAYES: Yeah. Right, yeah.
WILLIAMS: So we got to get that part clear. Now we say, “no, I don't want the U.S. government to go and bomb anybody.” That's not what the point is. The point is that we have an ill soldier who crossed the line and as did you the description of how this happened., it didn't happen that way. He was in Mexico. He left Mexico and came to a parking lot which is right outside the border, and there have been multiple people, including Congressmen, who have gone down and followed the exact same path. This young man is diagnosed by our government, diagnosed by the Mexican government for PTSD. He served with honor in Afghanistan. Let me tell you about PTSD. He left, he said to his mother, he got freaked out a little bit while he was in Mexico. He knew he had to get out of there and why? Because, you know, people suffering from PTSD have a hypersense of awareness around them. They have a trigger point. If he was triggered in Mexico and got in his car, I’m going to tell you, he probably didn't even see the signs. He turned in and the evidence is correct and clear cause they put it in the court last week in Mexico, they showed the tape of him pulling up to the turnstile.
HAYES: But – but, Montel, my point’s like – even – say that's all true, right?
HAYES: That – that this was a horrible accident.
HAYES: Yeah, right. Like, that he shouldn't be there, right? Isn't it the case there's still a Mexican judicial process. If we had a Mexican national who we had grabbed for something.
HAYES: Yep, right. And he's in an American prison, the Mexican government doesn't get to come in and say, “look, give him back.” Right? I mean, we're going to try him, go through the normal procedure. We hopefully achieve the right just end.
WILLIAMS: What's the first thing we do – what’s the first thing we've done to 60,000 illegal children who come in this country? We give them medical care.
WILLIAMS: We've treated them to no matter what their illness is. If we arrest someone coming into this country illegally and they have cancer, they’re going to go to a cancer ward. This is a person whose being held by one of our closest allies.
WILLIAMS: And will refuses to give him the commensurate you are at medical treatment.
HAYES: So, so the part of the issue is he's not receiving what he needs psychiatrically?
WILLIAMS: The issue here is among peers and friends and neighbors and countries who have treaties.
WILLIAMS: You do not treat a mentally ill person this way. We've got to stop acting like soldier who ran amok. He's been diagnosed with combat PTSD. I've been trying to make this point all day because people don't understand. This is not a guy whose just sitting around depressed.
HAYES: Clearly – not, clearly he has issues.
WILLIAMS: He has issues. Let’s also talk about the fact that he tried to commit suicide in prison, he tried to escape. It’s because the people down there had him at one point tied to a bed four poster tying and the guards were betting amongst each other who could beat him the best. So, we have a U.S. soldier being held, a Marine. I'm a Marine, I went through boot camp in 1974. This is a real deal right here and this guy right here is a troop that should not be left behind and this government’s got to do everything it can to get him back.
HAYES: Montel Williams, thank you so much for your time.
WILLIAMS: Thank you so much.