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Questions the Press Doesn’t Ask
Here are a few ideas for them to explore after the holidays.


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Mona Charen

Merry Christmas to the Fourth Estate! Hope you’ve enjoyed your goose or turkey or whatever your family tradition includes (latkes for those who are Jewish). When you return to work, there are a few loose ends on which you might want to follow up.

“Follow up.” It’s a term that has gone out of style in the age of Obama. You members of the press have become remarkably uncurious since he’s been in the White House. A blanket of benevolent uncuriousness smothers news about Obama administration wrongdoing.

The secretary of state, who took “full responsibility” for the Benghazi debacle, has not once been publicly questioned about it. Called to testify before a House committee this week, she pleaded illness — a fall resulting in a concussion. She says she will testify in January. Perhaps members of Congress will ask what the press has not. Who made the decision to deny the requested additional security to our diplomats? Where is a copy of the order President Obama says he issued requiring that “everything possible” be done to save our personnel who were under attack? (Former assistant secretary of defense Bing West notes that such orders are always written down.) Were Navy SEALs stationed in Benghazi told to “stand down” rather than render assistance? Who told Susan Rice to say that the attack grew out of a protest, when there was no protest?

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Speaking of that nonexistent protest, isn’t anyone even a little uncomfortable at the spectacle of the United States government arresting a guy for making a video (however “crude and offensive”)? On orders of this administration, an FBI team descended upon and locked up Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. He may be a petty criminal and an idiot. But that’s not the point. Aren’t members of the press sensitive about infringements on the First Amendment? Besides, what sort of message does it send to extremists around the globe when the U.S. cracks down on expressions of “blasphemy” toward Mohammed? Won’t they congratulate themselves on intimidating us?

You may want to ask. Just saying.

Oh, and here’s something else you forgot to be inquisitive about. An unpaid intern working in the office of Democratic New Jersey senator Robert Menendez (who was reelected on November 6), was arrested on December 6. It seems the 18-year-old illegal immigrant from Peru (who helped the senator on immigration issues!) was a registered sex offender. ICE knew about him but was repeatedly told by higher-ups at DHS, according to a government source, to delay the arrest until after the election. If true, that’s a remarkable politicization of law enforcement. So far, one “no comment” from a government official has sufficed to quiet your inquiries.

During the campaign (we learned after the election), the Obama administration undertook to devise guidelines for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. “There was a concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands,” an official told the New York Times. In other words, a Republican president would need guidelines for the use of Hellfire missiles, but with President Obama in the White House, safeguards are unnecessary. His unerring judgment is all that’s required. The president has presided over the deaths of an estimated 2,500 individuals — including some American citizens — through the drone program of targeted assassinations. Isn’t the press interested in what sort of guidelines the administration recommends imposing on its successor? On itself? Oh, wait, with the election safely past, the guidelines are on hold.

Finally, this isn’t a scandal, an abuse of power, or an example of hypocrisy, but it’s such a blatant display of moral confusion that it begs for questioning. The Syrian dictator Bashar Assad (about whom the next secretary of state was so wrong) has killed roughly 25,000 civilians and uprooted 1.2 million more. Human Rights Watch reported that there are 27 known torture centers run by the Syrian military. Yet the president has said that only the use of chemical weapons represents a “red line” that Syria must not cross. “If you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons,” he warned earlier this month, “there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.” Question: Doesn’t that mean that Assad will not be held accountable for the rest? What is the logic of that?

You might ask. If it’s not too much trouble.

— Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2012 Creators Syndicate, Inc.



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