Jamie Dupree at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
As members of Congress and reporters ask to visit federal facilities housing children who have been apprehended by the U.S. in recent months, federal officials are slapping limits on members of the news media who want a glimpse inside.
For example, an email sent to news organizations by Jesus Garcia, a public affairs officer for the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, sets out a number of restrictions on reporters if they want to visit “Unaccompanied Alien Children” being held at Fort Sill in Oklahoma.
But the HHS email to reporters made clear that journalists won’t exactly be allowed to do anything related to their jobs while on the tour of the facility at Fort Sill, other than jot some things down in a notebook.
“In order to protect the safety and privacy of the children,” the email set out ‘rules for participation’ for the press corps, which included:
– No recording devices allowed for reporters
– No questions from reporters permitted during the tour
– No interactions with staff or children
– No on-site interviews with HHS staff before or after the tour
– No photos of the facility – photographs will be provided by HHS
Along with those restrictions, any questions that reporters have for officials at the Department of Health and Human Services must be submitted “via email or phone” after the tour to a to spokesman in Washington, D.C.
I asked for an explanation of the restrictions on reporters, but did not receive a reply from HHS officials.
I’m surprised they aren’t making the reporters wear blindfolds too. This is the same place that turned away a GOP congressman last week. So what exactly is the Obama administration (aka “the most open and transparent administration ever”) trying to hide?
Don’t give me that “privacy of the children” bullshit either.
Putting that facility on a military base sure makes it easy to keep secrets. Since nobody will be watching I’ll bet they will be spending all day today cleaning, painting and fixing stuff. New (used) clothes for the kids, some toys and kids books brought in.
It would not surprise me if early tomorrow morning a bunch of those kids (the sick ones) were loaded on buses and trucks and temporarily relocated to a warehouse on another part of the base. I’ll bet you a whole month’s beer money that whatever they serve those kids for lunch tomorrow will be the most sumptuous meal those kids have eaten since they arrived. They might even promise the kids a reward if they behave properly while the reporters are there. (“Smile and laugh, Jose!”)
In other words, the standard Potemkin Village routine. But just in case they are banning recording devices and interviews. That’s because the Obama administration understands media manipulation. Images are powerful things. If there are no images then it’s not “news”, especially as far as television is concerned.
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) said Monday she does not want to see President Obama visit the border during his trip to Texas later this week.
Johnson, who represents a district that encompasses much of Dallas, said information is readily available to him about the huge influx of child immigrants captured crossing the border illegally this year.
“No I would not,” she said on MSNBC when asked if she would like to see him visit the border.
“I think that he has people in place to take care of that situation. There have been leaders from all over the Congress to visit the border. The Homeland Security has been there. What would be the point in the president going?”
President Obama is traveling to Dallas on Wednesday to participate at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser. On Thursday, he will speak at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser and give remarks about the economy in Austin.
There’s none so blind as those who will not see, and Obama doesn’t want to see. More importantly, he doesn’t want to be seen. Obama touring the border is news, and they can’t keep the cameras away when he does. That not only makes it “news”, it takes away his plausible deniability.
Whenever bad stuff happens, Obama is not visible in the picture. That way he can plausibly feign ignorance and/or shirk responsibility and blame. Obama does not want to be associated with failure.
When Osama bin Laden was killed Obama disappeared from the Situation Room at the White House until the mission was successfully completed, then he emerged and claimed all the credit. When Benghazi happened he disappeared and stayed gone because there was no credit to be claimed, only blame.
If the raid to get bin Laden had gone sour and the men of Seal Team Six were killed or captured, Obama would not have been the one on the news announcing it and somebody else in the CIA and/or Pentagon would have been thrown under a bus. If our people in Benghazi had somehow escaped unharmed while killing a bunch of terrorists, Obama would have cancelled his Vegas trip to welcome the returning heroes.
That’s how he rolls.