“Now just in the last day or two, we’ve heard some disturbing things from across the world that suggests, potentially, if the reports are true, some very troubling developments there, where an individual, Mr. Chen, has sought freedom in a bastion of freedom, an embassy of the United States of America. Aren’t we proud of the fact that people seeking freedom come to our embassy to find it? The reports are, if they’re accurate, that our administration willingly or unwittingly communicating to Chen an implicit threat to his family and also probably sped up or may have sped up the process of his decision to leave the embassy because they wanted to move on to a series of discussions that Mr. Geithner and our Secretary of State are planning on having with China. It’s also apparent, according to these reports, if they’re accurate, that our embassy failed to put in place the kind of verifiable measures that would have assured the safety of Mr. Chen and his family. If these reports are true, this is dark day for freedom and it’s a day of shame for the Obama Administration. We are a place of freedom, here and around the world and we should stand up and defend freedom wherever it is under attack.”
He is onto something. A former U.S. official who understands how such diplomatic incidents go down e-mailed me that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “was in Beijing when Chen left the embassy, but she didn’t take the opportunity to visit him. That’s what they wanted to avoid. If he stayed at the embassy, she couldn’t go there for the standard employee and family reception without facing whether to meet with him or not.” The former official concludes that this dictated the pace of the talks: “ Rush, rush rush.”
Romney may have been waiting to see how events developed. But now that Chen’s safety and that of his family in essence depend on international public interest in his case, there is no reason to hold back. And he is right: If Chen is swept up by the police state and/or his family is further harmed, the blame is squarely on the Obama team.
UPDATE (3:15 p.m.): The RNC is all too happy to send around a clip of Jay Carney, souding less than resolute on human rights.