President George W. Bush pardoned 16 criminals including five drug dealers at Christmastime, but so far has refused to pardon the two U.S. Border Patrol agents who were trying to defend Americans against drug smugglers. It makes us wonder which side the self-proclaimed "compassionate" president is on.
Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean were guarding the Mexican border near El Paso, Texas, on Feb. 17, 2005, when they intercepted a van carrying 743 pounds of marijuana. For what happened next, they were convicted and sentenced under a statute that was designed to impose heavy punishment on criminal drug smugglers caught in the commission of a crime.
The two agents are scheduled to start 11-year and 12-year prison terms, respectively, on Jan. 17, for the crime of putting one bullet in the buttocks of the admitted drug smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, and failing to report the discharge of their firearms. The nonfatal bullet didn't stop the smuggler from running to escape in a van waiting for him on the Mexican side of the border.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., called the two agents heroes. "Because of their actions, more than a million dollars in illegal drugs were stopped from being sold to our children. Bringing felony charges against them is a travesty of justice beyond description."
The White House and the U.S. Department of Justice are stonewalling requests for a presidential pardon from 55 members of Congress and U.S. citizens who have sent at least 160,000 petitions and 15,000 faxes. When the Bush administration deigns to respond at all, the official line is that the Border Patrol agents got a fair trial.
But that's not true; they didn't get a fair trial. They were convicted because the Justice Department sent investigators into Mexico, tracked down the drug smuggler, and gave him immunity from all prosecution for his drug smuggling crimes if he would please come back and testify against Ramos and Compean.
It was massively unfair to give immunity to an illegal alien narcotics trafficker while destroying the lives and families of two Border Patrol agents who risked their lives to stop him. Ramos and Compean were convicted mainly on the testimony of the immunity-sheltered drug smuggler, whose integrity should have been called into question, but Ramos and Compean were forbidden to do that during the trial.
The prosecutor even tried to get Ramos and Compean convicted of attempted murder! The jury acquitted them of that outlandish charge, but the government still asked for a sentence of 20 years for the other counts on which they were convicted.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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