With mounting bipartisan criticism from Republican congressmen and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the Department of Justice has stepped up an unprecedented public relations campaign to defend its prosecution of former Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, now serving 11- and 12-year prison terms. But new facts keep emerging to prove that this prosecution was a gross injustice.
CNN judicial expert Jeffrey Toobin described it as "one of the most unusual prosecutions I've ever seen ... I am baffled why this case was brought."
So am I.
The government prosecuted Ramos and Compean criminally for acts that called only for an administrative reprimand, based the case on the testimony of an admitted drug smuggler brought back from Mexico and induced to testify by a grant of immunity, withheld crucial evidence from the jury, used the wrong law (that carries a mandatory additional 10-year sentence), and now won't release the transcript of the trial without which the border guards cannot appeal.
The smuggler's reward for his testimony was immunity, U.S. medical treatment, and a government-issued border pass.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security now admits that its official lied to congressmen in claiming that Ramos and Compean had confessed, lied, destroyed evidence, and said they did not believe the smuggler was a threat. No evidence ever existed for those damaging accusations.
The government denied their freedom pending appeal and put Ramos in a prison where five criminal illegal immigrants were alleged to have severely beat him and kicked him with steel-toed work boots. Reportedly, no prison guards defended him from this attack.
The prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, claims that Ramos shot an unarmed drug smuggler in the rear end as he was running away. But the ballistics report failed to prove the bullet came from Ramos' gun, and the medical report showed that the bullet entered the smuggler's buttock on his side at an angle consistent with Ramos's contention that the smuggler was turning around with what looked like a weapon in his hand.
Ramos and Compean didn't believe they wounded the smuggler because he kept running and escaped across the border into a waiting vehicle. The doctor's description of the trajectory of the bullet he removed from the smuggler's body casts doubt on the whole assumption that his wound came from shots fired by the border guards.
Sutton claims that Ramos and Compean were prosecuted because they "lied" and covered up their actions. The alleged lie was that they gave an incomplete report of their confrontation with the smuggler on Feb. 17, 2005.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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