Maybe Warren Weinstein isn’t as colorful a captive as Bowe Bergdahl was. After all, Weinstein isn’t a deserter from the U.S. military. Besides, the parents of Weinstein, who is 72, are likely too old or too dead to appear alongside the president in a self-congratulatory Rose Garden victory dance.
Or maybe it’s just that, with so much else on his plate these days, Barack Obama simply doesn’t have time to think about Weinstein, who hasn’t been heard from since December 2013 when al Qaeda released a video in which he asked Obama to negotiate his release.
Weinstein was working for a government contractor when he was kidnapped. His work in Pakistan was to boost the country’s dairy development, which according to his company resulted in $63 million in new investment to Pakistan, at least 2,150 new jobs, and a 25% boost in producer productivity.
His overseas home was stormed by al Qaeda operatives armed with AK-47s, who tortured and tied up the guards before abducting Weinstein. He had been living in the high-security compound for years, traveling back to Rockville frequently to see his family. “He was in his house sleeping in the master bedroom behind locked doors,” Elaine Weinstein, told WJZ-TV, earlier this week, beseeching Obama to intervene:
Please … work as hard on getting my husband home as you worked to get the sergeant home. Please do whatever you can. He’s a father, a grandfather, a husband, a gentle, kind man, who needs to be home with his family.
The sergeant she refers to is Bowe Bergdahl. It strikes me as strange that Obama would trade five Taliban “generals” for one American deserter while leaving a 72-year old man working for the government to deteriorate in a terrorist prison.
Sidebar: I have to confess that I have a personal stake in Warren Weinstein’s well-being. He is one of the people most responsible for tuning me into a political geek.
My first year and a half in college was spent at the State University of NY at Oswego. I was a political science major and Dr. Weinstein was a favorite professor, my department adviser, and as president of the Hillel (officially called the Jewish Student Union). I worked closely with Dr. Weinstein, who always impressed me man with a big heart. It is not a surprise that when he was kidnapped he was teaching people how to get more food out of their land. That’s the type of person he is. Warren Weinstein is the guy who would invite students over to his house when they were stuck in Oswego for the Jewish holidays.
Dr. Weinstein also taught me that one person could make a difference, which is exactly how he lived his life. He encouraged me to stand up for what I believed in.
The media spoke briefly of Weinstein when al Quada released his video in December but have forgotten him since. Maybe that is forgivable since their job is to report news. But what about you, Mr. President?
Howard Portnoy contributed to this report.
Cross-posted at The Lid