Do you recognize the names of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean? You should. They are the former Border Patrol Agents who were convicted and sentenced to eleven and twelve years in federal prison, respectively, for wounding a Mexican drug smuggler who brought 743 pounds of marijuana across the U.S. border.
Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and John Culberson (R-TX), along with 41 other Members of Congress, including Representative Ralph M. Hall (R-TX), who is Chairman of the Board of the Free Congress Foundation, have written to Judge Michael B. Mukasey, President Bush’s nominee for Attorney General. They point out that the two agents were prosecuted by Johnny Sutton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas. Sutton granted immunity to the drug smuggler, provided him free health care and granted unconditional border-crossing cards so he would testify against the agents. The Congressmen want Mukasey to investigate the situation. In his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mukasey agreed to do so.
In arguing for the investigation, these Members of Congress expressed great concern over the treatment of Agents Ramos and Compean. Both officers are held in solitary confinement 23 hours per day. The conditions, the Congressmen argued, are far worse than those for suspected terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay. Ramos was placed in solitary confinement because he was assaulted in a different facility earlier this year. His assailants never were charged. The Members of Congress are very concerned about the pattern of prosecutorial overreach by Sutton. Rohrabacher has long been concerned about the close relationship between Sutton, President George W. Bush and former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
The Members of Congress compared the conditions of Ramos and Compean with the imprisoned terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. What they discovered is an outrage. The men who want to blow up Americans are far better off than these two very decent agents, who are the victims of a vindictive prosecutorial program demanded by the President, reinforced by former Attorney General Gonzales and finally carried out by Sutton. The comparison is as follows:
Ramos and Compean Special Housing Units: Administrative detention is a non-punitive status in which restricted conditions of confinement are required only to ensure the safety of inmates or others. It would appear that Ramos and Compean are abused in this case inasmuch as they are compelled to spend 23 hours in their cells. Ramos and Compean are not permitted to participate in any recreational activity outside of their exercise cages. Only one hour outdoors is permitted per day. All outdoor recreation is limited to concrete, open air, chain link enclosures with high walls. Ramos is limited to three showers weekly with no shower on the weekends. The officers receive no special meals or extra food privileges. Ramos has lost more than 30 pounds. All their meals are served alone in their cells. They are not permitted to watch television. They have a limited commissary list and do not enjoy the same privileges as the general population. After a brutal assault by five inmates Ramos was not taken to a medical facility or a physician for several days. Nor did Ramos receive the proper medication for a previous condition for four months. They are allowed only one 15-minute telephone call every 30 days.
Gitmo detainees in Camp 4: Camp 4, the only medium security camp at Guantanamo Bay, is the most sought-after camp. It offers detainees the privilege of living in a communal setting which offers more freedoms and perks. Inmates receive up to nine hours of exercise and recreation a day. Exercise yards attached to the living quarters include covered picnic tables, ping-pong tables, soccer fields and volleyball courts. Showers are available daily after exercise. They receive 4,200 calories a day and have ice cream parties on Sundays and access to Subway. Their meals are eaten together in cell blocks. They have permission to watch Arabic family television programs and soccer and have personal visits from librarians with books and magazines. They receive the same medical treatment as U.S. military personnel at state-of-the-art medical facilities.
These 43 Members of the House of Representatives are outraged that vicious anti-American prisoners, many of whom leave the prison and return to war against us, live much better than the Border Patrol agents and they hope Mukasey will undertake an objective and thorough investigation of this matter if, as is likely, he is confirmed as Attorney General. Let us hope he does.