In an editorial entitled "Iran Sentences an American Journalist," The New York Times protests Tehran's announcement that Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has been sentenced to prison for espionage for an unknown length of time. The Times tells us:
"The Iranian government made the announcement with as much transparency as it has shown in this case all along: none.
. . . .
The prosecution of Mr. Rezaian, a well-respected journalist of Iranian ancestry with dual citizenship, has been a travesty since he and his wife were detained in July 2014. The authorities have failed to present a shred of credible evidence that Mr. Rezaian broke any law and they have deprived him of due process. Recent suggestions by senior Iranian officials that he could be swapped for people imprisoned for violating sanctions against Iran strongly suggest that the case against him was a farce all along.
. . . .
In addition to Mr. Rezaian, two other Iranian-Americans are being unfairly detained. Saeed Abedini, a pastor, is serving an eight-year sentence after having been convicted of harming national security by holding Bible classes in private homes. Amir Hekmati, a former Marine, is serving a 10-year sentence after the judiciary convicted him of aiding a hostile government."
How many times does the editorial mention President Obama? Not once, but on the other hand, why should it? The president has said nothing.
This is probably a good time to revisit Dana Milbank's October 16, 2015 Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama’s baffling passivity on Jason Rezaian," in which this uber-liberal columnist declared after Rezaian's conviction:
"My Post colleague Jason Rezaian, the paper’s Tehran bureau chief, has been languishing in an Iranian jail for 15 months on bogus charges of espionage. He was put on secret trial by a kangaroo court. On Sunday, Iranian state TV reported that he had been convicted.
And Obama said . . . nothing. He didn’t go to the briefing room and make a statement. He didn’t even release a written statement. On Tuesday, his press secretary, in response to a reporter’s question at the briefing, responded with what might have been described as minor annoyance with the Iranian regime.
'We’ve got a number of concerns,' the spokesman said, mentioning the 'unjust' detention and 'opaque' process.
Where was the demand that Iran immediately release Rezaian and the two or three other Americans it is effectively holding hostage? Where was the threat of consequences if Tehran refused? How about some righteous outrage condemning Iran for locking up an American journalist for doing his job? Even if Obama’s outrage came to nothing, it would be salutary to hear the president defend the core American value of free speech."
Dana couldn't comprehend that Obama's failure to act, or even speak up on behalf of Rezaian and the other Americans languishing in Iranian prison cells, was part and parcel of the president's foreign policy of malign neglect.
But I suppose we must also take into account that if Obama had objected to Rezaian's conviction and sentencing, there are those who might wonder how the president entered into an unsigned, legacy-creating, nuclear deal with these monsters.
January 20, 2017 cannot come soon enough.