Sutton responded, "There's this impression that all these dopers carry guns," but mules -- smugglers such as Aldrete-Davila -- "almost never carry guns," because federal law "tacks on five years to their sentence."
Even if everything Sutton says is true, Ramos and Compean most certainly should not spend 11 and 12 years behind bars. I don't think they should spend a single night in prison -- not for what was a mistake (if the smuggler was not armed) made in the heat of the moment, even if it was followed with a cover-up.
Americans should not put men in frustrating and dangerous law-enforcement positions, then lock them up and throw away the key if those men do one wrong thing, especially of the sort that angry, scared men sometimes do. It is not as if Ramos and Compean were crooked agents running criminal enterprises and betraying their fellow agents. If they were, they'd probably be facing a shorter sentence.
As T.J. Bonner of the agents' union, told me: "It's going to be terrible. These are good cops going to prison. It's not as if they're bad cops who are going to be accepted into the community. The very people they put away are going to be in the next cell to these guys."
Asked if President Bush would pardon the agents last Friday, White House spokesman Tony Snow noted that a jury had convicted them after a long trial. "We also believe that the people who are working to secure that border themselves obey the law."
Bonner looks at Bush's decision not to pardon the two men as a signal that Dubya doesn't particularly care about securing America's borders.
It is not as if Bush has too many friends and too much public support. I've heard from many Americans who are outraged at these excessive sentences and don't understand why Bush has not used his pardon power to commute the sentences of agents who were just doing their jobs.
If anything happens to these men while they are behind bars, then what will America think of George W. Bush?