An insider's view of the Ramos and Compean commutations
A friend of mine who once worked as a Border Patrol agent was kind enough to offer the following opinion of President Bush's commutation of the unjust prison sentences given to Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos.
As a long time immigration law enforcement officer who has served as a Border Patrol Agent, an INS agent and an ICE agent, I have long viewed the Ramos and Compean prosecution and imprisonment as a horrible and grotesque miscarriage of justice.
Even at a glance, the criminal prosecution and decade long imprisonment of border patrol agents for shooting an illegal alien drug smuggler in the act of smuggling hundreds of pounds of contraband into the United States seems unjust. As a matter of fact, it sounds insane.
Then, when you look deeper at the details of this case, even more questions and anger arise over the quite apparent political motivations behind this prosecution, and indeed, the prosecutorial misconduct involved.
It is shocking that the prosecuting attorneys in this case granted the drug trafficker immunity from prosecution for his crimes in return for his “testimony” against agents Ramos and Compean. Even more shocking is the fact that the prosecution gave the drug trafficking illegal alien legal status in our country and a border crossing document sure to speed his passage through our border ports of entry on subsequent crossings from Mexico into the United States.
Only the shameful members of the prosecution were surprised to learn that the illegal alien drug trafficker utilized his “golden pass” to smuggle additional hundreds of pounds of illegal drugs into our welcoming country while trial in this case was pending against the agents. Most disgustingly, the prosecution and the trial judge deliberately withheld this important information from the jury while the prosecution endeavored to mislead the jury into believing that the drug trafficker was a one-time smuggler who was in dire financial straights which motivated him to do what he did. All this deceit and showmanship to trick the jury into taking the smuggler’s word over the word and testimony of our law enforcement professionals.
Even more disturbing to me has been the fact that the prosecutors and even the President of the United States have long insisted that these agents are criminals and that they did something wrong while stopping this criminal illegal alien drug smuggler from getting more than 700 pounds of marijuana onto the streets of our great country.
From the luxury of their posh government offices, lit up with fluorescent lights and heated or cooled at taxpayer expense, these cowards have second guessed and arm-chair quarterbacked the decisions and actions of brave Border Patrol agents who acted in a rapidly developing and dangerous situation unfolding along a dangerous and violent stretch of border land. Shame on these individuals who were not there, have never been involved in a situation such as that which confronted agents Ramos and Compean and have no way of saying with certainty what really happened. They simply took the word of an illegal alien drug smuggler to destroy the lives of these brave agents along with their families, careers and reputations.
And most disturbing of all has been the fact that the prosecution asked, and the trial judge agreed, to sentence these law enforcement officers under a sentencing enhancement aimed at increasing the sentences for drug traffickers and other criminals who carry and use firearms during the commission of their crimes. In other words, we the people, who employed Ramos and Compean, mandated that they carry firearms while they do their jobs of defending our country and enforcing our laws along our borders. We issued them those firearms, trained them to use them and mandated that they carry them while on duty. Then, we second guessed their use of those firearms while doing a dangerous and dirty job, convict them of a crime and sentence them to more than a decade in prison away from their young children and wonderful wives (whom I have spoken with frequently). Yes, we punished law enforcement officers because they were armed and utilized our firearms – lawfully issued to them – in the commission of their “crimes”. Am I the only one who thinks this is outrageous and wrong?!
No. I am joined by many, many other voices. Media reports tell us that hundreds of thousands of good Americans rallied to the call for support from radio talk show hosts, television news media personalities and law enforcement support groups. These voices flooded the congressional and White House switchboards and put enormous pressure on our reluctant elected officials.
Finally, the voices of the people caused the slow-to-respond political machine to awaken; bipartisan calls from congressional representatives in Texas, and indeed throughout the United States, pushed our stubborn president to action resulting in a last minute sentence commutation that was begrudgingly issued with a condescending lecture and further character assassination.
Although this sentence commutation comes as a result of the enormous pressure exerted by hundreds of thousands of brave and honorable voices from throughout the nation, many millions of other American citizens remained ominously silent while this injustice was perpetrated by their government utilizing the power that we gave them and continue to give them.
Of course, that silent majority is only partly to blame for their inattention and silence on this and other important matters either not reported on or slanted with a left-leaning political bent. The dominant media culture must shoulder their fair share of the blame for not covering this story with even a fraction of the zeal they showed the Valerie Plame and CIA scandal that ultimately landed a Republican fat cat in federal court on criminal charges. Where were organizations such as La Raza and MALDEF? They were ominously silent as these two Hispanic-American Border Patrol agents were mercilessly pursued and persecuted by a white prosecutor and then ignored by a white president.
A book would need to be written to adequately document and detail all the facts surrounding the politics behind this prosecution, the foreign government pressure from the Mexican government pushing and lobbying for the prosecution, and the sordid details of the prosecutorial misconduct and ethics violations that transpired before, during and following the prosecution.
That book could then be made into a movie that possibly could penetrate the walls of the gated communities where the silent voices of America reside, watching the latest episode of American Idol while gorging on Bon Bon’s, Tofu, Big Macs and diet soda. Only then might these silent citizens be stirred to action after opening their eyes, perhaps decades later just as the film Dances With Wolves opened our eyes, a century late, to the history and tragedy of native Americans.
Yet I am hesitant to set my sights too high or to get my hopes up too much. If the current trends in Hollywood continue with activist film directors and revisionist historians such as Oliver Stone, Spike Lee and Michael Moore, we can expect the Ramos and Compean movie to depict these honorable agents as malicious killers who beat their wives and children and masturbate to pornography on duty (as was depicted in the recent movie The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Directed by Tommy Lee Jones ) just prior to shooting the “poor and innocent” Mexican citizen who was just “looking for work”.
The commutation of the sentences of Mr. Ramos and Mr. Compean are a wonderful first step on the long road toward righting the enormous wrongs surrounding this case. I can only hope that a team of bold, courageous and justice minded attorneys combine and conspire to continue the fight in this case until those many injustices that have transpired are finally made right.
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