SNOW-JOBS AT THE WHITE HOUSE
By Chip McLean
January 31, 2007
Undoubtedly, the White House was hoping this case would simply disappear. Instead of vanishing, however, the case of Border Patrol agents Compean and Ramos has gained more and more traction. Initially White House spokesman Tony Snow, by vehemently defending the prosecution of the case, was hoping to pull off an act of illusion that would have made David Copperfield proud. Unfortunately for Mr. Snow, instead of saying “Ala-kazam” and watching the case go “poof,” the audience has instead been treated to seeing a magician’s worst nightmare – after lifting the cover, the thing that should have vanished stubbornly remains there.
The Border Patrol agents’ case has galvanized those who have been railing against the Bush Administration’s lax approach to immigration laws. Columns are being written, petitions are being circulated and letters are being sent to the White House en masse. In addition, some members of Congress are threatening to cut off funds for the incarceration of Compean and Ramos. With public pressure mounting, the White House has decided that it is time to take a different approach, by promising a review of the trial transcript. In addition, Tony Snow has invited Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Cal) to meet with him for an informal discussion of the case. Rohrabacher, you may recall, had previously called the White House’s handling of the case a “disgrace.”
It remains to be seen of course, what will actually transpire with this “review.” While certainly a response to public pressure, it also would have to be part of a White House strategy – one of throwing a temporary bone to conservatives, who by and large oppose any sort of open borders policy. In that vein, the review may only amount to still another attempt at making a rapidly expanding public relations problem go away.
In the meantime, one has to wonder what version of the transcript the White House will be reviewing. A column by Art Moore indicated that there were “problems” with the transcript’s accuracy – which according to Rep. Rohrbacher was due to a court reporter who “wasn’t up to the challenge the case presented.” If there is indeed a problem with the accuracy of the transcripts, to whom will it fall to put together the pieces? Will someone be filling in the blanks? Could this present an opportunity for another “snow-job” at the White House?
In addition to “problem” transcripts, there also appears to be contradictory information concerning the prosecution’s case in the form of a memo obtained by the Daily Bulletin. The memo, from the Inspector General’s office, appears to support Compean’s claim that he thought his life was in danger when he attempted to apprehend the drug smuggler, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila. Special agent Christopher Sanchez stated in the memo that:
“Compean said that Aldrete-Davila continued to look back over his shoulder towards Compean as Aldrete-Davila ran away from him. Compean said that he began to shoot at Aldrete-Davila because of the shiny object he thought he saw in Aldrete-Davila's left hand ... Compean explained that he thought that the shiny object might be a gun and that Aldrete-Davila was going to shoot him because he kept looking back at him as he ran away…”
This is significant because the Department of Homeland Security has insisted that the agents knowingly shot an “unarmed” Aldrete-Davila, something completely at odds with this memo. It is also deeply disturbing that for five months, DHS has refused to hand over documents pertaining to the case requested by Rep. Michael McCaul, (R-Tex) and other congressmen. At the very least, it would seem we are not being told the complete truth by those in charge of the investigation. That also has to make one wonder why.
Finally there is the issue of a problem with the ballistics data used at the trial by the prosecution. At trial, one of US Attorney Johnny Sutton’s prosecution witnesses stated that the bullet removed from the buttocks of Aldrete-Davila came from a gun fired by agent Ramos. This was stated as fact, even though it turns out that a laboratory criminalist could not conclusively link the bullet to Ramos’ service weapon, and in fact could not even determine for certain, the manufacturer of the weapon that fired the bullet.
These questions and many others are emerging and will continue to emerge as the saga unfolds. Perhaps if the President and his administration had been taking a tough stance on immigration all along and were taking measures to secure our border, rather than planning “pathways to amnesty” for millions of illegal aliens, there would not be such a public stink. Perhaps there would not be the suspicion and distrust that many have regarding the White House’s motives on this issue. Perhaps though, if the White House had been diligent all along about border security, rather than giving winks and nods toward border crashers, Johnny Sutton would have felt less inclined to prosecute two border patrol agents for “violating” the “civil rights”of an illegal alien drug smuggler.
And while we ponder all of this, Border Patrol agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos remain in prison – in solitary confinement.
© 2007 Chip McLean - All Rights Reserved
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Chip McLean is the editor/publisher for Capitol Hill Coffee House. Chip is a former broadcaster.
His interest in politics began at the age of eight, when his parents took him to a Barry Goldwater rally during the 1964 presidential election. In addition to his work at CHCH, Chip's columns have appeared in a number of online conservative publications.
Perhaps if the President and his administration had been taking a tough stance on immigration all along and were taking measures to secure our border, rather than planning “pathways to amnesty” for millions of illegal aliens, there would not be such a public stink.