Bush Slammed as Border Patrol Agents Begin Prison Terms
Washington, Jan 17, 2007 -
By Randy Hall
CNSNews.com Staff Writer/Editor
January 17, 2007
(CNSNews.com) - As two U.S. Border Patrol agents surrendered to federal marshals Wednesday afternoon to begin serving more than a decade in jail for shooting an illegal drug smuggler, a federal lawmaker and conservative advocacy group expressed outrage at President Bush for not pardoning the men.
"This is the worst betrayal of American defenders I have ever seen," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said of the president.
"It's shameful this was done by someone who is in the Republican Party," the California Republican added in comments coinciding with the jailing of agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.
Rohrabacher said Bush "obviously thinks more about his agreements with Mexico than the lives of American people and backing up his defenders."
Ramos and Compean reportedly handed themselves over to the U.S. Marshal's office in El Paso, Texas, early Wednesday afternoon, facing the prospect of 11- and 12-year prison terms, respectively, for a string of offenses including the use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.
Steve Elliott, president of the conservative group Grassfire.org, also lashed out at Bush on Wednesday.
The American people "have a vivid picture of where the Bush administration really stands on border security," Elliott charged in a news release.
He described the crimes committed by Ramos and Compean as "so-called civil rights violations against an illegal alien drug smuggler who has been smuggling drugs into this country for years and was smuggling 743 pounds of marijuana at the time of the confrontation."
Elliott also argued that the U.S. attorney's office did not have to pursue the case, prosecute the men, "take the word of an illegal alien drug smuggler over that of our border agents" or give the illegal alien immunity.
"President Bush could have spoken out publicly in support of these agents and how their incarceration could further cripple our border security efforts," he added.
Instead, Elliot said, "when it came time to stand and be counted on the side of our border agents, the president's administration chose to side with a career illegal alien drug smuggler."
As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Ramos and Compean encountered Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila while on duty on Feb. 17, 2005. When they tried to stop him, he fled and was shot and wounded. Aldrete-Davila was treated at a hospital in El Paso and then returned to Mexico.
After learning of the shooting, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton sought out Aldrete-Davila in Mexico and offered him immunity from prosecution if he would return to the United States to testify against Ramos and Compean.
Sutton later defended the decision, arguing that the agents did not have knowledge of any criminal activity involving Aldrete-Davila at the time they shot him.
Ramos and Compean were charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with serious bodily injury, discharge of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence, willfully violating Aldrete-Davila's Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable seizure and obstruction of justice for intentionally defacing the crime scene, lying about the incident, and failing to report the truth.
During a press briefing last Friday, White House spokesman Tony Snow addressed the case and criticism at some length.
"According to the facts presented in court, you had an incident in which there was an attempt to pull somebody over. He finally got pulled over; somebody holds out a gun. Sort of scuffling ensues," Snow said.
"And what happens is you've got a fellow running away, and a couple of agents eventually in pursuit, firing 14 shots at him - I think 15, actually. Fourteen by one agent missed, one did strike him in the fleshy hindquarters," he added.
"Now, at the time this happened, they did not know if he was an illegal," Snow continued.
"They did not know that there were 700 pounds of marijuana [in Aldrete-Davila's van]. They didn't know any of those things. But instead you had this. They also had received arms training the day before that said if you have an incident like this, you must preserve the evidence and you must report it promptly," he said.
"Instead, according to court documents, they went around and picked up the shell casings. Furthermore, they asked one of their colleagues also to help pick up shell casings. They disposed of them," Snow added.
Snow noted that a jury convicted the agents on 11 out of 12 counts and defended the government's stance.
"This is not the case of the United States saying, we are not going to support people who go after drug dealers. Of course we are ... we also believe that the people who are working to secure that border themselves obey the law," he said.