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20 years

No pardon. Bush commutes sentences of Ramos
Compean. They will be free on March 20.

When Bush-43 Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was interviewed by Fox News newbie Glenn Beck on Jan. 27, the former CNN news commentator asked the former US Attorney General his views on [a] prosecuting employers who hire illegals, [b] on catching illegals coming into the country, and [c] about the raw deal persecution (as opposed to prosecution) of Ignacio "Nachos" Ramos and Jose Alonzo Compean. Gonzales, whose tightlipped smile tightens a little more and whose eyes squint when he lies, squinted a lot during the Beck interview.

Gonzales said that both he and the president worked hard to prosecute employers who hired illegal aliens. That was one of those true-and-false answers. Bush selectively prosecuted employers, carefully avoiding mega-donor employers with a ton of clout on Capitol Hill like Archer Daniel Midland or ConAgra (although Bush went after Walmart whose janitorial vendors—largely owned by Walmart—hired illegals—and financially supported Democrats). US Attorneys who tried to prosecute major donor mega-corporations for hiring illegals, or those who chose to investigate Republican public officials for corruption, or refused to launch investigations of Democrats that would have benefited their Republican opponents in an election year, were slated for removal.

The decision to remove the US Attorneys was made shortly after the re-authorization of the USA Patriot Act in March, 2006. (The provision allowed the President to arbitrarily fire US Attorneys who displease him and replace them without Senate approval was inserted into the Patriot Act by Michael O'Neil, chief counsel to then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter at the behest of Gonzales.) Gonzales fired eight US Attorneys: Daniel Bogden, Paul Charlton, Margaret Chiara, Bud Cummins, David Iglesias, Carol Lam, John McKay, and Kevin Ryan.

Gonzales told the media Lam was fired because she was not actively investigating employers who hire illegals. She was apparently wasting her time securing the guilty plea from Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham for accepting $2 million in bribes, and also for securing indictments against defense contractors Brent Wilkes and former CIA official Kyl "Dusty" Foggo for bribing Duke. And, she apparently also wasted her time getting a conviction against pharmacist Mark Kowich, owner of Word Express RX for operating an online, mail order pharmaceutical company where customers did not need prescriptions to get regulated pharmaceuticals. And instead of chasing illegals, Lam secured the conviction of Steven Mark Lash, the former CFO of FPA Medical Management. Lash was accused of defrauding more than 1,600 doctors out of $60 million. When Gonzales testified before Congress about the firings, he squinted a lot. Gonzales suffered from that common but highly contagious political-ailment, forgetitis. When he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee (which investigated the firings), Gonzales "forgot" important details of the firings over 70 times.

While Bush-43 talked tough about rounding up illegals, it now appears the benevolent president simply wanted to make sure they got their flu shots. On Nov. 28, 2006—a week before he fired the US Attorneys for hypothetically not catching and deporting illegals—Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt had an interview of KFOX-TV in El Paso, TX. In the interview he said that the President wanted doctors, clinics and hospitals to provide flu vaccines to illegals—apparently without taking names and addresses for the Department of Immigration Control and Enforcement. According to the Washington, DC-based Center for Immigration Studies spokesman John Keeley, "It's now Bush Administration policy...in a directive to healthcare providers to administer flu shots to illegal immigrants."

Leavitt countered, saying it was nothing of the kind. Leavitt noted it was simply a case of "...working with our neighbors across the border to immunize Mexican citizens who might cross the border." Clearly, the open border policies of both Bush-43 and the Clintons before him was an invitation for Mexican nationals (who now control almost 90% of the flow of illegal drugs into this country) to come to the United States for free healthcare, particularly for the services offered by American obstetricians in the border States. Illegals come to the United States to birth "anchor babies" that make it more difficult for ICE to deport them if they are caught..

Bush-43's public rhetoric on illegals was designed to make anti-illegal US voters think he was tough on enforcing the borders and keeping illegal aliens (not immigrants) out of the country. Privately, Bush codified his lax security policies. He made it difficult for the Border Patrol to enforce the law, thereby aiding and abetting illegals who brazenly crossed the borders in Texas and California in the light of day, darting through heavy vehicle traffic to escape from Border Patrol agents at busy urban center border crossings.

In May, 2006 Bush hawked the idea of using National Guard troops to patrol the border. Bush's approval rating skyrocketed with anti-illegal US citizens until they discovered Bush's real motives for using the National Guard on the border. First, the Guard was not allowed to have loaded weapons, so the already shorthanded Border Patrol spent most of their time protecting the military from incursions into the United States by Mexican soldiers who protect drug smugglers. The real reason the Guard was there had nothing to do protecting Americans from illegals. Their role was to protect the illegals from Americans, in particular, the Minutemen.

Glenn Beck knew all this before he asked former US Attorney General Gonzales about his position—and Bush's on apprehending and deporting illegals. Once again, Gonzales squinted when he answered. This quite naturally led to Beck's coup de grace: What did Gonzales think of his hireling, Johnny Sutton, and the prosecution of Ramos and Compean?

Gonzales quickly denied that Sutton was his hireling, pointing out that Sutton, like himself, was nominated for his job by the President, and that both were confirmed by the Senate. (In fairness to Gonzales, who became Attorney General on Feb. 3, 2005, Sutton was nominated by Bush-43 on Oct. 25, 2001, so if he was anyone's boy, he was John Ashcroft's boy. In reality, Sutton was Bush's "can-do" guy. Sutton was an assistant District Attorney in Harris County. He hitched his wagon to Bush's star in 1995. When Bush won the presidency, Sutton became policy coordinator for the Bush-Cheney transition team. He joined the Bush-43 Administration as Associate Deputy US Attorney General under Ashcroft. Bush appointed him US Attorney for the Western District of Texas in Nov., 2001 with 118 lawyers under him. Beck might not have known that. Sutton would do anything his boss—the President, not the Attorney General—told him to do. Sutton was not only told to nail Ramos and Compean, he was also pressed by the White House to get a conviction against Edwards County, Texas Sheriff's Deputy Guillermo "Gilmer" Hernandez.

On April 14, 2005, exactly 56 days after Mexican drug runner Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila drove a van filled with 743 lbs of marijuana from Mexico to Fabens, Texas, Hernadez had the misfortune of stopping a Chevy Suburban for speeding in Rocksprings, TX. The SUV was carrying a coyote (alien smuggler) and 8 illegals. As Hernandez approached the vehicle, the driver revved the engine, spun the SUV around and tried to run him down. Hernandez fired five shots at the SUV. The tape in the video camera in Hernandez's cruiser was spent and did not record the incident. Sutton ordered the arrest of Hernandez on June 6, 2005 and charged him with concealing evidence of a crime and violating the civil rights of an illegal. As in the Ramos-Compean case, Sutton used the illegals, who were granted immunity, as witnesses against the deputy. Sutton won a conviction against Hernandez as well. The deputy was sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison.

Since his fingerprints were all over the arrests of honest, dedicated law enforcement officers, its easy to see why President George W. Bush would not pardon Ramos and Compean. On his final full day in office, Mon., Jan. 19, 2001, the outgoing president commuted the 11 and 12 year sentences of Ramos and Compean, respectively. The act of clemency, which leaves their convictions—and their status as "convicted felons"—intact, goes into effect on March 20 when their prison sentences will simply "expire." Bush's decision came two years after the agents began serving their prison sentences on Jan. 17, 2007 for shooting Mexican drug runner Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila. On Feb. 17, 2005 drug cartel drug-runner Aldrete-Davila loaded up his van with 743-lbs of marijuana in a small village near Juarez, Mexico and headed for Fabens, Texas where he planned to dispose of his million dollar cargo.

Driving the same levee road near the Rio Grande that fateful night was "Border Patrol Agent of the Year" nominee Jose Compean, an agent with over 100 arrests under his belt. When Compean spied Aldrete-Davila, the drug-running was barreling north at high speed. Compean radioed for back-up. When Aldrete-Davila reached the outskirts of Fabens, he suddenly realized he couldn't outrun the Border Patrol. He decided to try to get his contraband—which didn't belong to him—back across the river into Mexico to avoid arrest and the seizure of his cargo. By this time, however, a second and third agent had joined the chase.

Realizing he could not save his cargo and himself, Aldrete-Davila abandoned his car on the levee and fled to the river on foot—into the waiting hands of Compean who correctly surmised what the drug smuggler would do. Only, at that moment, none of the agents knew they had a career drug smuggler within their grasp. As far as they knew, this was just an illegal. Perhaps a coyote with a vanload of illegals. A foot pursuit took place. Had Compean been a bigger, heavier man, the chase might have ended differently.

As he neared the levee, Ramos later testified to his superiors that "...at some point during the time where I'm crossing the canal, I hear shots. Later, I see Compean on the ground, but I keep running after the smuggler..." (who, at that moment, he did not know was a smuggler). This would be a sticking point for US Attorney Johnny Sutton who prosecuted them. Sutton argued since they did not know the suspect was a drug runner, they could not use lethal force to stop him; and the fact that Ramos and Compean fired at him was not mitigated by the fact that Aldrete-Davila was a drug smuggler with a million dollars worth of contraband. Both Ramos and Compean affirmed that Aldrete-Davila had a weapon and as he was running to the river, and that he turned to fire at them. They fired. And, even though there was no blood trail from the spot where Aldrete-Davila was running to the river, Aldrete-Davila insisted the wound he suffered was caused by an assault by the Border Patrol agents and that he did not have a weapon. Ramos testified that he saw Aldrete-Davila holding a nickel-plated handgun. Believing his life was in danger, Ramos fired. "But I didn't think he was hit because he kept running into the brush and disappeared. Later we all watched as he jumped into a van [on the other side of the border]. He seemed fine. It didn't look like he'd been hit at all."

While both Ramos and Compean told their field supervisors that they discharged their weapons, that information did not appear in the supervisor's report. Further, since Compean policed his brass, both were charged with conspiracy to conceal evidence of a crime. Under the Immigration Control & Enforcement Protection Table of Offenses and Penalties, failure to report that a weapon had been discharged in the line of duty was punishable by suspension without pay for 5 days. At most, this was the only "crime" of which Ramos and Compean should have been charged.

Aldrete-Davila suffered a wound caused by a 40-caliber Smith & Wesson jacketed hollow-point that entered the left buttock, passed through his pelvis and lodged in his right thigh, damaging the drug smuggler's urethra. (The agents carried 40 caliber Berettas.) Aldrete-Davila claims he suffered the wound at the hands of the Border Patrol while fleeing, unarmed. US Army Col. Winston Warme, MD of the William Beaumont Army Medical Center, who repaired Aldrete-Davila's urethra, testified that the bullet entered his body at an angle suggesting that the person who was shot was turning, like he was firing at the officers as he was fleeing. Nevertheless, the fact that Aldrete-Davila was shot with a 40 caliber slug, based on the lack of a blood trail, and without a ballistics match, does not confirm that either agent shot him. It 's just as likely that Aldrete-Davila was short by the drug lord whose marijuana it was that Aldrete-Davila lost when he dumped his cargo and dashed back across the river as a warning to other drug runners to protect their cargoes with their lives.

When Sutton issued an arrest warrant for the agents, Ramos and Compean were not given the courtesy of surrendering to their supervisors in the US Border Patrol, or even quietly to US Marshals. Sutton arranged for simultaneous SWAT teams to stage assaults on their homes, deliberately traumatizing their families and very deliberately sending a message to every Border Patrol agent that attempting to arrest those who violate our borders has a horrible price. (It worked. Arrests along the border by Border Patrol agents plummeted. They simply turned their backs on illegals crossing into the United States, images of Ramos and Compean etched into their minds.)

President Bush's decision on Monday was an answer to the prayers not only of the families of the two agents, but to thousands of conservatives who have been petitioning the White House to pardon the pair. Patty Compean, the wife of Jose Compean, learned her husband's sentence had been commuted from reporters who called to ask for a statement. She immediately called the prison in Ohio where her husband, like Ramos, has been held in solitary confinement since shortly after their convictions but was not allowed to speak with him even though his sentence had just been commuted by the President of the United States. Ramos was assaulted shortly after being confined. Both men were moved to solitary to protect their lives due to the danger they faced because they were law enforcement officers before their convictions.

Monica Ramos said she had faith that Bush would "...help free her husband." In point of fact, Bush engineered the prosecution and conviction of her husband as a favor to Fox. Monica Ramos said "...[i]t's like a the nightmare will finally be over. We can have a new life, a new beginning."

Bush relented only because, over the last six months, he was flooded with requests from scores of members of Congress—both Republicans and Democrats—to pardon the Border Patrol agents. In a statement issued on Monday after the commutation, Sutton said "...the president has concluded that Compean and Ramos have been sufficiently punished," adding that the two agents "...had been justly convicted and that their status as convicted felons should remain in place." Think about that. Compean and Ramos were convicted of criminal assault and using a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, and civil rights violations.

They were railroaded by the US Attorney and maliciously prosecuted at the insistence of the Attorney General of the United States. US District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone, a Bush-43 judicial appointment, railroaded the defendants. During the trial, Sutton attempted to inflame the non-sequestered jury by issuing a three page statement to the media that he could not legally enter into evidence in which he said the two agents "...fired their weapons at a man who was attempting to surrender by holding his open hands in the air."

During jury deliberation, three members of the jury, believing Ramos and Compean were innocent, held out for a not guilty verdict against nine jurors who were convinced the agents would never have been charged if they weren't guilty. That fact notwithstanding, at 2:15 p.m. on March 15, 2006 the jury found them guilty. When the verdict was read, the three jury members began to cry.

A few days later Ramos' lawyer, Mary Stillinger, contacted the jury members whom she witnessed crying. They agreed to speak to her on the record. They told Stillinger the jury foreman was told by Judge Cardone that the jury would vote either "guilty" or "not guilty." She would not accept a hung jury. If the three couldn't convince the other nine, they would have to vote guilty. The three should have insisted on seeing the judge's instructions in writing. If she did tell the jury foreman that, Cardone would never put such a demand in writing. The judge was engaging in jury intimidation.

Constitutionally, under our jury system, the judge does not have the power to tell a jury how they will or will not vote. The people constitutionally have the final word in the fate of those charged with violating the laws of this country. That's why the rule of law works. Conversely, when judges attempt to intimidate juries, or when prosecutors misrepresent the evidence, miscarriages of justice like the Ramos and Compean convictions happen. Bush's commutation is a further miscarriage of justice. Ramos and Compean deserve nothing short of a presidential pardon simply because they are innocent of the crimes for which they were accused and convicted. However else history judges former President George W. Bush, he will carry the stain of this deliberate miscarriage of justice, engineered by his presidency, into history.

For the sake of "jury unity," and not because they were convinced the pair was guilty of anything, Ramos and Compean were wrongfully confined in federal prison on Jan. 17, 2007 and will remain there until March 20. They will have spent 792 days in prison for a crime that did not happen just to fulfill an international political mandate to create a world with open borders. Of anyone who has ever sought a presidential pardon, no one has ever been more deserving of one than Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. Perhaps when Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wins the White House in 2012 Ramos and Compean will win their pardon and be restored to service in the US Border Patrol with back pay and all privileges that go with the badge.







Just Say No
Copyright 2009 Jon Christian Ryter.
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