BORDER PATROL AGENTS IN JAIL, DRUG SMUGGLER FREE
The current controversy over Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean is rapidly building into another Harriet Miers or Dubai Ports controversy revealing once again how completely tone deaf the Bush administration is to key conservative themes.
Right now, Ramos and Compean are in federal prison, where they were ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cordone. Even though their appeal is pending, somehow the judge thought the law enforcement agents were some sort of a “flight risk,” either that or she just wanted to start punishing them now. Judge Cordone also denied Ramos and Compean’s request for a new trial, even after reports that three jurors are now saying they were coerced to vote guilty.
Agents Ramos and Compean have been sentenced to 11 and 12 years respectively for shooting in the buttocks a fleeing Mexican drug smuggler, who in the early afternoon on February 17, 2005 escaped running on foot into Mexico, after eluding hot pursuit by several Border Patrol agents and abandoning on a dirt road his van containing 743 pounds of marijuana.
Unbelievable as the case may seem, prosecutor U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton in El Paso decided to give the drug smuggler, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, immunity to testify, concluding that the “bad guys” in this case that he could convict were the Border Patrol, not the drug smuggler.
Remarkably, the drug smuggler has retained legal counsel in the United States and sued the Border Patrol for $5 million for violating his civil rights. Somehow, even illegal alien drug dealers have constitutional rights while they are in the United States. What will be Aldrete-Davila’s proof that his civil rights were violated? Incredibly, the backbone of his case will be that Ramos and Compean were convicted for shooting him and are today in federal prison.
President Bush has been stonewalling this case, much as he dug in when conservatives criticized his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court on October 3, 2005, or after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in February 2006 approved Dubai Ports World to operate certain U.S. ports in their acquisition of London-based Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation. President Bush in his second term appears totally tone-deaf to conservative themes. The Ramos and Compean case reveals a strong bias the Bush administration has for keeping our borders wide open, even to the advantage of drug smugglers. How else could we explain the Department of Justice’s determination to reward a Mexican drug smuggler while incarcerating the two Border Patrol agents who tried to arrest him?
In an exclusive WorldNetDaily interview I conducted with the prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, on January 19, 2007, Mr. Sutton recited repeatedly what began to appear to be a well rehearsed litany of charges against Ramos and Compean, charges that since have become White House talking points. Sutton claimed the two agents “shot 15 times at an unarmed, fleeing man,” after which the agents “decided to lie about it, cover it up, destroy the evidence, pick up all the shell casings and throw them away where we couldn’t find them, destroy the crime scene and then file a false report.”
Unfortunately for Sutton, there remain a series of conflicting reports and troublesome gaps in evidence that do not square with his attempt to damn the two Border Patrol agents as heinous criminals who committed egregious felonies.
Not surprisingly, as far as we are concerned, that last description of a heinous criminal best fits the drug smuggler, Aldrete-Davila. Johnny Sutton is demanding from most of us an uncomfortable stretch in alleging that somehow law enforcement officers shooting at a fleeing drug suspect did anything wrong. Now, having spent dozens of hours researching the case and appearing in radio interviews discussing the case, I know this is a case that makes the public’s blood boil. Truly, it is remarkable that Johnny Sutton has managed to carry political correctness to the point where our law enforcement officers need to fear imprisonment for shooting at illegal Mexican drug dealers who massive loads of dope across our southern border and run for the Rio Grande when they see the Border Patrol on their trail.
Unfortunately for the government, in this case among the few indisputable points is that Aldrete-Davila did drive a van crammed full with 743 pounds of marijuana across the border with Mexico at about 1:00 PM local time on February 17, 2005. That’s a lot of dope, probably about $1 million worth, more than Cheech and Chong ever had in their most outrageous drug fantasy. Too bad for Johnny Sutton that the Border Patrol on the scene didn’t end up searching the van only to find a pile of old newspapers with “help wanted” ads circled in red.
How is it then that in Johnny Sutton’s world the Border Patrol agents became the bad guys and the drug smuggler became the star witness?
Let’s take Mr. Sutton’s accusations one by one. The central claim is that Agents Ramos and Compean shot at an unarmed suspect who was running away.
What Sutton fails to appreciate is that since Aldrete-Davila was not apprehended at the scene, no one will ever know for certain whether or not he was carrying a concealed weapon. All the other about whether Aldrete-Davila had a gun or didn’t have a gun are just hypotheses, not proven facts. In logic, the problem is a form of the argumentum ad ignorantiam, the ages-old “argument from ignorance.” Put simply, the logical fallacy involved is to conclude that the fleeing drug dealer did not have a concealed weapon because nobody on the scene could prove he did have a weapon.
Let’s assume that Aldrete-Davila held up his arms up signaling he wanted to surrender, as the prosecutor asserts. So what? Certainly we can find cases where criminals have used the surrender ploy as the first step in bring out a concealed weapon. Or, let’s assume it’s also true that Aldrete-Davila ran away without ever firing a single shot. Once more, so what? Maybe Aldrete-Davila though it was best to just keep running, rather than taking the time to pull out a concealed weapon and fire at the pursuing officers.
The point is that Aldrete-Davila was not caught, so he was not searched at the scene. No one will be ever to able to prove conclusively that he did not have a concealed weapon, no matter what Aldrete-Davila says or Johnny Sutton argues. So, when Johnny Sutton says Aldrete-Davila was unarmed, Sutton is merely asserting something he wants to be true, something he will never be able to prove in fact.
Besides, is it Johnny Sutton who’s smoking the dope? Drug smugglers commonly carry concealed weapons, if only to protect themselves against other drug dopers who may want to steal their load. If Aldrete-Davila did not have a concealed weapon, he was either stupid, brain dead from smoking too much of the weed himself, or fully up on the law and aware that he would have an advantage without a weapon in Johnny Sutton’s El Paso, especially if any Border Patrol agent was silly enough to fire a weapon to stop or apprehend him.
At any rate, the presumption here goes with Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean. Aldrete-Davila drove his van illegally across the border on a route the agents knew was used by drug dealers. When Aldrete-Davila figured out that the Border Patrol agents were after him, he turned his van around and headed back to the border in an effort to evade arrest. When his van wouldn’t go any further on the dirt paths, Aldrete-Davila abandoned the van and headed off on foot. Ramos and Compean had ample reason to believe they were chasing a drug smuggler, even if they never stopped to look inside the van. Drug smugglers generally carry weapons and Ramos and Compean would have been foolish to assume they were not chasing an armed and dangerous suspect.
In the interview, Sutton claimed that Compean fired 14 of the 15 shots fired by the Border Patrol. Let’s take a closer look at the exchange:
So, U.S. Attorney Sutton admits that an adrenalin rush could have impaired Agent Compean’s aim. Adrenalin is associated with fear. Why doesn’t Sutton go the next step and ask why Compean felt the adrenalin?
Very likely, Compean felt fear because he had just struggled with Aldrete-Davila in a ditch and was cut on his hand between the thumb and his index finger. Did Aldrete-Davila cut Compean’s hand with a knife? We don’t know. Clearly, the adrenalin rush Sutton admits Compean experienced had to be related to Compean’s correct conclusion he was dealing with a dangerous suspect. Resisting arrest, the illegal Mexican alien had just committed aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer.
Maybe U.S. Attorneys can enjoy the luxury of failing to realize that drug dealers often carry concealed weapons, but law enforcement officers risk their lives if the do not constantly appreciate this type of reality. The cut on Johnny Sutton’s hand took months to fully heal; his wife says he still bears the scar some two years later.
Sutton makes much of the fact that Compean picked up his shell casings. Sutton goes so far as to charge that agents Ramos and Compean were trying to destroy a “crime scene,” again implying that Ramos and Compean were criminals trying to hide their horrible deeds. Interestingly, Sutton does not claim that Ramos picked up his one shell casing or that Ramos helped Compean pick up his. Was Compean the only agent Sutton thinks was trying to hide something, or does he think Ramos would have felt nobody would ever find his one lone shell casing on the desert floor?
What can we conclude from Compean picking up his expended shell casings at the scene? Truthfully, not much. U.S. Attorney Sutton made the point in our interview that there were several Border Patrol agents involved in trying to apprehend Aldrete-Davila, not just Agents Ramos and Compean. We can reasonably assume that all the agents at the scene knew there was gunfire. Compean could not have reasonably expected that picking up the shells would have covered up anything. Another reality to this case is that if Ramos and Compean were negligent in not filling out a written report after the incident, all the Border Patrol agents on the scene that day were equally negligent. Ramos and Compean maintain that they did make a verbal report to their supervisors, all that was required by their manual, and that they mentioned the gunfire in the report.
By the way, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas has not yet produced a trial transcript, some two years after the case has been concluded, even though the Texas Republican delegation to the U.S. Congress has also demanded to see the transcript. Would someone please get Judge Cordone a yellow pages telephone directory so she can look up court reporters under temporary help? We are not in the 1930s where trial transcripts are pounded out on typewriters where stenographers wearing green eye shades and smoking cigarettes have to slap the carriage return to get a new line on the page.
The truth appears to be that Judge Cordone and U.S. Attorney Sutton do not want anyone to read the trial transcript. Key evidence was allegedly sealed from the jury by the judge’s rulings at trial. Ramos and Compean maintain that Judge Cordone was prejudicial against them, excluding or sealing evidence that may have exculpated the defendants. From reports of the trial participants and observers, a great deal of the trial was conducted in the judge’s chambers. From all accounts, more time was spent at the trial by the lawyers in conferences at the bench than in allowing the defense to present witnesses, virtually all of whom were dismissed after prosecutors’ objections. Was the defense prohibited intentionally from presenting their case at trial? We probably will not know until Judge Cordone gets around to ordering the trial transcript to be transcribed and released to the public.
Yes, shots were fired at a fleeing drug smuggler, but as far as the Border Patrol knew, the suspect escaped without being hit. The shot that the prosecution alleged hit the doper took in his rear end did not prevent him from running away. The Border Patrol agents on the scene could have reasonably assumed that this run-away criminal had just escaped back into Mexico, never to be seen or heard from again. But in U.S. Attorney Sutton’s mind, the rule “No harm, No foul” did not apply. Evidently, Sutton did not want to lose this case, not when Ramos and Compean gave the government a perfect “poster boy” opportunity to communicate to all law enforcement officers on the border that shooting at fleeing Mexican drug dealers was a very bad idea.
The manual of the Border Patrol specifies that the penalty for an agent who does not file a report that they had discharged their weapon is a written reprimand or at most a five-day suspension. How then did U.S. Attorney Sutton conclude that Ramos and Compean deserved 11 and 12 year sentences for “filing false reports.” Truthfully, neither agent filed any written report. Both filed verbal reports, as the Border Patrol manual requires, and their supervisors decided a written report was not required in this situation. After all, the doper got away and nobody but Johnny Sutton ever expected the admitted “scum bag” would emerge from the miasma of Mexico to become a star witness for the prosecution under a grant of immunity?
Now, the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General’s office is refusing to hand over to Texas Congressmen Michael McCaul and Ted Poe investigative reports on the case that DHS claims will prove Sutton’s accusations against Ramos and Compean. After five months of promising that the reports were coming, Congressman Poe in the last full week of January 2007 finally gave up and filed a Freedom of Information Act request against DHS. That Congress would have to resort to FOIA to perform normal oversight responsibilities strongly suggests that DHS has decided to stonewall and maybe even cover-up. What if the DHS IG investigative reports don’t prove that Ramos and Compean were out that day to “shoot some Mexicans,” as DHS claims? Malicious prosecution is a felony.
Still, President Bush, as usual, is stubbornly taking his time to get involved. Mrs. Monica Ramos, the wife of the imprisoned Border Patrol agent, attended President Bush’s 2007 State of the Union. She was provided with a ticket by Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of California, yet another staunch defender of the now-convicted criminal Border Patrol agents. Mrs. Ramos was in tears at the end of the speech, after listening to President Bush affirm to the nation that he wanted to catch drug dealing bad guys, even though his primary goal was to pass some form of a guest worker amnesty first.
At the end of the speech and back in Rep. Rohrabacher’s office, Mrs. Ramos told reporters that President Bush was a hypocrite that evening for having claimed he wanted to prosecute drug smugglers from Mexico while her husband was in federal prison for trying to catch one. All week in Washington, D.C., Mrs. Ramos was an emotional wreck, having just come from Texas where she made her first visit with her husband in prison. Agent Ramos, she reported, was being kept in solitary confinement, supposedly for his own protection, but still he was brought to the prison visit with his wife in shackles, as if he were Charles Manson.
President Bush may believe that with Democratic control of Congress, he will get passed in the 110th Congress a version of the S.2611 guest worker amnesty bill that he failed to get passed in the 109th Congress, despite Senators Ted Kennedy and John McCain joining hands across the aisle to co-sponsor the bill.
We predict that if Ramos and Compean are still in prison when President Bush introduces his new amnesty effort, the bill will not have a snowball’s chance. If conservatives were mad about S.2611, we are livid that prosecutors like Johnny Sutton think their job is to protect Mexican dopers from Border Patrol agents, especially since we see errors and inconsistencies in Sutton’s version of events.
Are we truly in an Alice in Wonderland world, or is it just that President Bush thinks it’s his appointed duty to give the keys to our southern border to the Mexican drug cartels?
At any rate, someone should do George W. Bush and Karl Rove a favor and explain to them that a president who remains silent while these Border Patrol agents are in prison is not getting anywhere with the American public. President Bush’s problem is compounded since the “dirt-bag” drug smuggler, as even Johnny Sutton describes him, is now free to pursue a $5 million payday against the Border Patrol. Imagine how bad everything will hit the fan once Aldrete-Davila’s law suit begins, as he tries to collect because agents Ramos and Compean violated his civil rights by shooting at him as he fled.
should remind President Bush that none of this would be a problem
had Aldrete-Davila not decided to sneak across our wide open border
with Mexico, smuggling in a load of 743 pounds of marijuana. But then,
as Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court and the decision
not to object to Dubai Ports demonstrates, the Bush administration
knows how to bunker down in a crisis, at least until the bunker itself
threatens to give way.
© 2007 - Jerome Corsi - All Rights Reserved
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Dr. Corsi received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in Political Science in 1972. He has written many books and articles, including co-authoring the #1 New York Times best seller, "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry" (along with John O'Neill), "Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth of Scarcity and the Politics of Oil" (along with Craig R. Smith), and "Atomic Iran: How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians,"
His latest book published with co-author Jim Gilchrist, the founder of The Minuteman Project, entitled: "Minutemen: The Battle to Secure America's Borders" (World Ahead Publishing).
In 1981, he received a Top Secret clearance from the Agency for International Development, where he assisted in providing anti-terrorism training to embassy personnel.
Dr. Corsi's columns currently appear on HumanEvents.com. He lives with his family in New Jersey, where he is a full-time writer.
Somebody should remind President Bush that none of this would be a problem had Aldrete-Davila not decided to sneak across our wide open border with Mexico, smuggling in a load of 743 pounds of marijuana.