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Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Public Shame

Do you want to be a Border Patrol agent and do your job to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country? Do you want to prevent drug smugglers from bringing drugs across the border?

If you do your job diligently there is a good chance you may wind up in jail. That’s what has happened to Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean.

In February 2005, the agents tried to stop a van driven by drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila near the Mexico border. After a scuffle with Compean, Aldrete-Davila fled on foot. Ramos says he believes that he saw a gun — which the smuggler denies. Both agents fired at Aldrete-Davila, who fell, then continued his escape across the border. After he got away, Ramos and Compean filed a report on the 743 pounds of marijuana they found in the van, but not on the gunfire. As it turns out, Ramos had shot Aldrete-Davila in the butt.

Returning to Mexico, Aldrete-Davila related his misfortunes to his mother, who contacted the mother-in-law of Border Patrol agent Rene Sanchez. Sanchez in turn tipped off a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, who went to Mexico to offer immunity if Osbaldo would act as a state’s witness against Ramos and Compean: the feds wanted to prosecute the agents shooting the alien narcotics supplier.

To sweeten the immunity deal, the feds paid for Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila’s medical treatment of his ailing backside – a taxpayer-funded recuperation at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas. He showed his gratitude by breaking his immunity agreement in October 2005, when officers say he attempted to smuggle 1,000 pounds of marijuana into America. The prosecution further extended its immunity to this felony and sealed the indictment from jurors. Aldrete-Davila repaid this new shower of grace by suing the federal government for $5 million, alleging the shooting violated his civil rights. However, he agreed to help in their criminal prosecution, as well, and the feds are apparently happy to collaborate with the pusher as long as he helped put effective lawmen behind bars.

U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, a Bush appointee, prosecuted the agents. In March, a jury found them guilty of assault with a dangerous weapon, discharge of a firearm during a violent crime, obstructing justice, lying about the incident and willfully violating Aldrete-Davila’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from illegal seizure.

Because there was gunfire, the mandatory-minimum prison sentence the agents will serve is 10 years. As for Aldrete-Davila, he faces no charges for the 743 pounds of pot. That leaves him free to carry out his plan to sue the Border Patrol — that is, U.S. taxpayers — for $5 million because his civil rights were violated. What a country.

Ramos, who was nominated Border Patrol Agent of the year in 2005, told the San Bernardino County Sun, “There’s murderers and child rapists that are looking at less time than me.”

At the heart of the prosecution is a vehicle-pursuit policy that makes absolutely no sense. As Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Kanof explained to the Sun, “It is a violation of Border Patrol regulations to go after someone who is fleeing.” It’s like a no-arrest policy.

No surprise, Border Patrol agents routinely ignore the regs. As Ramos responded to Kanof: “How are we supposed to follow the Border Patrol strategy of apprehending terrorists or drug smugglers if we are not supposed to pursue fleeing people? Everybody who’s breaking the law flees from us. What are we supposed to do? Do they want us to catch them or not?”

I will answer that question. No, they do not want you to catch them. It is one of the things I do not understand about this Administration. There is no will to enforce the border, protect our sovereignty and prevent the admission of illegal immigrants or substances.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the case, as she fears this prosecution may represent “a serious miscarriage of justice.” It definitely does.

Sutton’s office cannot comment on the case until sentencing, but referred me to a statement, that explains, “They were prosecuted because they had fired their weapons at a man who had attempted to surrender, but, while his open hands were held in the air, Agent Compean attempted to hit the man with the butt of his shotgun.” Later, the agents picked up shell casings and failed to file a gunfire report.

Sutton’s best point: A jury found the two agents guilty of all charges except attempted murder. As Bonner sees it, the most punishment the agents deserve is a five-day suspension for not reporting the shooting. Say, for argument’s sake, that the agents were wrong to shoot at Aldrete-Davila. They were wrong to not file a report. Discipline them. Fire them, even. But don’t send them to prison for decades for a bad split-second decision and failure to file a report.

If they were crooks, they would serve shorter time. Last month, a Border Patrol agent, who admitted to smuggling 100 illegal immigrants while he served on the Border Patrol, got five years. (Prosecutors had recommended three years, but in San Diego, U.S. District Judge John Houston hiked the sentence, telling the man: “You violated the sacred trust of your comrades. As a link in the chain, they depended on you.”)

Compean’s attorney, Maria Ramirez said that her client, a first-generation American, served honorably in the U.S. Navy, then worked for the Border Patrol. He had a home, now sold, a wife and two children. Another child is on the way. But in the 15 minutes after the agents saw that van, after one split-second judgment call, his life melted away: “In 15 minutes it’s gone, just gone.”

The two U.S. Border Patrol agents were sentenced to prison terms of 11 years and 12 years for shooting a drug-smuggling suspect in the buttocks as he fled across the U.S.-Mexico border.

U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso, Texas, sentenced Jose Alonso Compean to 12 years in prison and Ignacio Ramos to 11 years and one day despite a plea by their attorney for a new trial after three jurors said they were coerced into voting guilty in the case, the Washington Times reported.

The two agents started 11- and 12-year prison terms, respectively, on January 17, for the crime of putting one bullet in the buttocks of the admitted drug smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, and failing to report the discharge of their firearms. The non-fatal bullet didn’t stop the smuggler from running to escape in a van waiting for him on the Mexican side of the border.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher called the two agents heroes. “Because of their actions, more than a million dollars in illegal drugs were stopped from being sold to our children. Bringing felony charges against them is a travesty of justice beyond description.”

The White House and the U.S. Department of Justice are stonewalling requests for a presidential pardon from 55 Members of Congress and U.S. citizens who have sent at least 160,000 petitions and 15,000 faxes. When the Bush Administration deigns to respond at all, the official line is that the Border Patrol agents got a fair trial.

But that’s not true; they didn’t get a fair trial. They were convicted because the Justice Department sent investigators into Mexico, tracked down the drug smuggler, and gave him immunity from all prosecution for his drug smuggling crimes if he would please come back and testify against Ramos and Compean.

It was massively unfair to give immunity to an illegal alien narcotics trafficker while destroying the lives and families of two Border Patrol agents who risked their lives to stop him. Ramos and Compean were convicted mainly on the testimony of the immunity-sheltered drug smuggler, whose integrity should have been called into question, but Ramos and Compean were forbidden to do that during the trial.

Ramos and Compean were doing what they thought was their job – preventing a drug dealer from illegally crossing the border with illegal substances. Yes, they failed to report the fact that they fired their weapon. Yes, they gave chase to the illegal, which they were told they shouldn’t do. Ok, they broke some rules. Give them six months in jail – but to sentence them to 11 and 12 years is a gross miscarriage of justice.

I understand the the judge had no choice because the mandatory Federal sentence for this is 10 years. Fine, but where is the Presidential pardon?

According to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) in House Resolution 1030:

To say that Ramos and Compean have been treated unjustly and unfairly is an understatement. Adding insult to injury, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has granted immunity to the Mexican drug dealer, the smuggler who these two officers intercepted. This criminal alien was caught with 743 pounds of marijuana, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office has treated this criminal as if he were a victim.

At the same time, the book was thrown at our border patrol agents. I will submit for the RECORD, Mr. Speaker, my letter to the Attorney General regarding this outrageous case. The brutal treatment of the two border guards has demoralized our Border Patrol agents. I hope as we sing our praises today, that we understand that we are, yes, grateful to all of these people who protect us at the border, including the two Border Patrol agents that are now under attack.

In the meantime, let the case of Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean be revisited and the outrageous criminal charges against them dropped.

The Washington Times on January 10, 2007 reports,

Republican House members yesterday asked President Bush to keep two U.S. Border Patrol agents out of prison pending their appeal of convictions for shooting a suspected drug smuggler in the buttocks as he fled into Mexico.

“Several discrepancies in the government’s case strongly question whether justice has been served, and permitting these men to be incarcerated in the interim puts their lives at risk,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California said at a Capitol Hill press conference.

“We’re going to find out whose side you’re on, the American people or the side of our enemies,” Mr. Rohrabacher said in a reference to Mr. Bush. “If you let these two men go to jail for defending us, then we’ll know you’re on the side of our enemies.”

He was joined by Reps. Duncan Hunter of California, Ted Poe of Texas, Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, Joe Wilson of South Carolina and Tom Tancredo of Colorado.

In lieu of a pardon, a letter petitioning Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales was presented during the press conference asking the Justice Department to direct federal prosecutors not to oppose a motion filed in a Texas court to keep the agents free on bond during the appeals process.

This is an outrageous miscarriage of justice. These men were protecting their country and doing what they were hired to do. I suggest that everyone who agrees with that statement do two things that will make a difference:

1) Phone the White House and let them know how you feel. The phone number is: (202) 456-1111.

2) Write to President Bush asking him to pardon Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean. A letter sent by U.S. mail is more effective than a fax, an email or any other form of communication.

**UPDATE - We received this post in an email not knowing at the time it originally came from Gary Aminoff's blog which you can read by clicking here.

20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Yet another sad legacy of the pathetic, failed Bush presidency.

And look what our ethnocentric MECHA mayor had to say about the out of control border: "Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Wednesday that immigration reform is needed more than raids like those that arrested more than 750 people in the Los Angeles metropolitan area over the past week."

NO! 750 is but a tiny drop in the bucket. We need to find and deport the 600,000 repeat illegal alien criminal offenders destroying our communities! NO GUEST WORKER/AMNESTY!

January 24, 2007 11:18 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

U.S. Atty. Sutton was on the radio in San Diego with host Roger Hedgecock that was replayed on the John & Ken Show. When Hedgecock brought up the fact that one agent had been nominated for Agent of the Year, Sutton replied, "Tookie Williams was nominated for a Nobel prize." Hedgecock asked Sutton, "Are you comparing the (agent's name) to Tookie Williams?" The response was in the affirmative.

The government just offered up these guys as another "bend over backwards" approach to show that illegals have all the protection U.S. citizens have- and then some.

Bush's address last night was so lame on the immigration issues. He wants that cheap labor for his cronies' corporate profit-making. It may not be so cheap after they are legalized, as Bush intends them to be. They will not hesitate anymore to seek out rights after they no longer are illegal.

Another effect will be the impact that is sure to happen when they bring other relatives from Mexico and other Latin American countries, based on their own legal status.

Bush said something last night about "assimilation." Is he dreaming? I see just the opposite happening, increasingly so each day. I can't believe he is simply so stupid, at least on so many things. I think he is just an outright liar. There are so many issues with so many examples of this.

What happened to the agents was designed by the prosecution, engineered and backed up by the administration, to nail these guys as severly as possible. Alternatives were available if accountability was the goal. Instead you have a lot of Border Patrol agents having serious doubts about being supported and wondering what's the point of their mission.

Bush's solution to illegal immigrants in the U.S.: Make them legal. Problem solved. What a fool.

Try enforcing some of the existing laws against the EMPLOYERS, that might be a start.

January 24, 2007 11:51 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

http://www.myspace.com/securetheamericanborder

January 25, 2007 12:39 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

http://www.myspace.com/stab_america_2

January 25, 2007 12:40 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Bush had the nerve to say in front of Mrs. Ramos (border agent wife) who was invited by a Senator to his dumb speech he wants to give illegals work permits to come here so they don't have to hide coming across.

Bush also pardoned 3 illegals right before Xmas.
Here's more contact info. Let's send a strong message to this idiot.Other numbers to call :
John & Ken-KFI are really pissed go to their website to get more info: johnandkenshow.com
Congress: 866-340-9281
Attorney Alberto Gonzales: 202-514-2001
Prosecuting Attorney Office (Johnny Sutton & Debra Kanof): 210-384-7400
Judge Kathleen Cardone: 915-534-6740
Tony Snow: 202-456-2673
And click here to sign the Grassfire.org pardon petition

January 25, 2007 1:17 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Antonio thinks now he can end poverty. Instead of using his time in Washington for something useful like lobbying for the Border Patrol agents he's outlined his plan to spend $44 billion to end poverty. Antonio needs some serious medication to keep his mind on one thing and finish it then move on. He's a complete failure in LA. Anything he's touched so far has FAILED.

January 25, 2007 1:27 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Dumb ass Antonio could be doing something about helping the border agents while in Washington but no he supports illegals.

Another lame idea of his from this clown of a mayor.
.....On Wednesday, he delivered a proposal for eradicating urban poverty in a speech before the National Press Club, calling for significant federal investment in universal preschool, subsidized college savings accounts and other measures to lift the poor into the middle class.

January 25, 2007 6:24 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I heard on the radio this morning that Photoraigosa denounced the arrest of the 750 illegals CRIMINALS yesterday. WTF Antonio? Are you in office to represent Mexican Nationals, or are you representing the American Citizens (white, black, brown alike) that voted your dumb ass into office?

January 25, 2007 7:03 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

An unarmed man was hunted down and shot. The border patrol agents - eventhough they are Latino - are not above the law. Their lives was not in danger when they shot the drug dealer. Granted, he is a scumbag but this flies right in the face of those -"it is the rule of law" anti-immigrant loud mouths. Well this case is also about the rule of law. Why didn't they report this incident? This leads to the other question, how many times have they done this and we have not heard anything about it - save the vigilante crusade for the minuteman, not federally employed border agents.

January 25, 2007 8:01 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

What a disgrace!!!! Release these young men!

January 25, 2007 8:27 AM  

Anonymous Matt Dowd said:

this is a big beat up story Mayor Sam, inciting anti-immigrant hate, so be careful.
The Fact is these guys LIED and filed a FALSE, DECEPTIVE, FRAUDULENT and FICTITIOUS report.
they have themselves to blame, and here's why:
the only reason you would leave out the shooting, is because you knew it was illegal, and violated the law.
they shot him 'in the back'.
I don't have to tell you how unethical that is.
period.
you want rule of law in this country, or do you want the officials with guns to be above the law?
I don't think so.
secure the border. stop and confiscate drugs. arrest and jail illegal invaders.
thats all fine.
don't shoot someone leaving the US heading to mexico, and then lie about the incident. had they just apprehended him, he'd be the one in jail.
did they lie about how many pounds of weed they found?
what other lies are they telling?
they got caught, its a federal crime, and its a big lesson to everyone.
LEAVING OUT CRITICAL INFORMATION IS TANTAMOUNT TO A LIE.
and theres the proof.

January 25, 2007 9:16 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

anti-ILLEGAL immigrant !

January 25, 2007 9:29 AM  

Anonymous Matt Dowd said:

perception is everything.
ask ZD. he learned me that.
but 14th amendment has no less importance than the 1st.

I happen to agree with 7.03

those 750, and the 800,000 fugitives from their deportation orders should all be rounded up, and physically removed.
but they are different issues.
did the mayor really denounce those 750? thats insane.

January 25, 2007 9:38 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

As the founder of the new local effort to help the families of these “LATINO” border agents I felt it best to address some of Matt’s concerns.

But before I begin, I would like to make one observation. At the rally in Los Angeles two weeks ago as well as some I have attended in the past, one of the overriding themes presented by those who are opposed to us speaking about illegal immigration and its consequences, is that we were anti Latino, anti Hispanic, anti brown skin, etc, etc,… Racist.

Question, how can the groups voicing their objections be anti Hispanic-anti Latino and at the same time stand up for two Hispanic Border Agents?

Now for the task at hand. The drug smugglers departure is described as “leaving”. Last I looked, if you commit a crime and the authorities arrive, your departure, if you are attempting not to be arrested is called escaping.

As to the charge of “shooting him in the back”. If a criminal has a gun and is going to fire at you as he is attempting to escape, I do not believe the law says you have to wait to be shot at first before you shoot. If that were the case, we would have a lot more dead officers.

The illegal alien in Long Beach got to shoot first and we had two officers in the hospital.

Did the drug smuggler have a gun? I guess only four people know for sure, the drug smuggler, the person driving he get away vehicle and the two border agents.

Now unless you were driving the get away vehicle, you are in no position to say he did not have a gun. Likewise, I can not say with any authority that he did. But most of the drug smugglers I have known carried guns to protect their merchandize.

So it comes down to who you choose to believe with regards to the gun.

As far as shooting him in the back. That was addressed by the medical witness called by the prosecution. Once the medical expert said the location of the wound (the butt) and the direction of travel of the bullet was consistent with someone running and turning to look back, he was dismissed. After all, if you can run and turn to look back, you can, turn to shoot back!

Yes, the agents did not follow policy or procedure. But the penalty for their actions do not warrant the penalty they received.

As a matter of fact the penalty is inconsistent with the law which was set up to punish violent criminals who were committing a crime with a gun. In this case it was applied in reverse. This is one of the basis for their appeal.

To be kept up to date on our efforts, visit www.freeborderagents.com

David Hernandez

January 25, 2007 11:04 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

David,

What is more cowardly, smuggling drugs into this country or shooting somebody in the back then lying about it?

Condoning these LATINO agents' actions is the same as buying those drugs that result in the demand and smuggling in the first place.

We, as Americans - Latinos included- do not need to go down in the gutter to get these scumbags. We must perform at a higher level, that is what sets us apart. These agents wanted to play cowboy and they got scalped! The law is the law and "trained" agents have no excuse for vigilante vendettas!

Just because they were "protecting" our border, should they get carte blanche? How is shooting a low level drug smuggler in the back protecting our border? What about all those unreported crimes - rapes, drug smuggling, shootings - that is committed by some border agents. This case just adds fuel to that fire. These agents got what they deserved - how often do you think this case will be brought up in all those lawsuits against the Border Patrol? All these guys did was endanger the integrity of a proud federal agency.

January 25, 2007 11:16 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Hey David,

Why don't you get Antono Villaraigosa, Xavier Becerra, Cardinal Mahoney, Gloria Molina and all those other Latino Leaders to write President Bush to get these agents a pardon. They have a history of succes on this matter - just ask Horatio Vignali.

January 25, 2007 11:19 AM  

Anonymous Matt Dowd said:

ok, first I'm with you that the penalty should be negotiable always, given the circumstances.
I'm just calling it as I see it (joe public)
I'm not an authority, just a commentator.
and an activist for discussion on these issues.
and, I'm researching solutions, offering ideas, including showing off the future of border control that will eliminate guns. click my name for the story on this new weapon. and thank you New Zealand for covering it in the press.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=10420834

US tests heat beam weapon

January 25, 2007 11:36 AM  

Anonymous Matt Dowd said:

next question: why is new zealand reporting this, and no word from the press here. anyone seen this in US?

PS. new zealand is across the dateline from here, thats why the newspaper says Friday Jan. 26.
kiwis and aussies are ahead of y'all. in real time.

January 25, 2007 11:43 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Great to see Matts and my post has brought out the folks who have the ability to say what did or did not take place.

Still going with the shot in the back theme? Were you in the get away car? I have enough honesty to say I do not know if there was a gun or not. Do you?

As far as the crowd who was mentioned for me to seek help from. As far as I can see these folks only stand up for illegal aliens. That is why I called for the Don Corleone Mahoney to open up catholic schools free of charge to the children of illegals and while he was at, open up all the catholic hospitals and give them free medical. It is easy to preach what would God do as long as someone else is paying for it.


Like Matt, I too am just an activist and like to ask questions.

So keep up the debate.

David

January 25, 2007 12:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Good points David, and keep up the great work on getting rid of the Prop R scheme !

January 25, 2007 4:28 PM  

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