To: President George W. Bush The White House Washington, D.C., 20500
Dear Mr. President:
I am glad to see that you fired some U.S. attorneys. But you missed one: U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, who prosecuted border guards Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean instead of a professional drug smuggler, and who prosecuted Texas Deputy Sheriff Gilmer Hernandez instead of a professional people-smuggler.
Yes, you have the presidential prerogative to hire and fire U.S. attorneys for any reason or for no reason. Any prosecutor has large discretion in whether to bring a case to trial or not, and the public has the right to know why he made that decision.
So much has come out since the Ramos and Compean trial that proves the decision to criminally prosecute them was a gross miscarriage of justice. Their alleged violation, if true, deserved, at most, an administrative reprimand.
Ramos and Compean did not get a fair trial, and that's a terrible blot on your administration. It's hard to say which was more shocking: the withholding of exculpatory evidence or giving a professional drug smuggler immunity and other goodies to be the star witness against them and withholding evidence that would have discredited his credibility.
Keeping Ramos and Compean in solitary confinement instead of letting them go home pending their appeal shows a maliciousness that is unworthy of your administration.
Is it really the policy of your administration that U.S. border guards are not permitted to use force against fleeing illegal immigrants, but should allow them to flee across the border with impunity? If so, you should change the rules of engagement.
Is it really the policy of your administration that our border guards, in the act of apprehending a smuggler, may not use their weapons unless they first get permission from headquarters, and that they must assume that drug smugglers are unarmed? If so, you should change the rules of engagement to protect our border guys who are risking their lives every day to protect us.
It's not enough to grant a pardon to Ramos and Compean. I hope you will publicly admit that they never should have been prosecuted for using their weapons in the course of doing their dangerous jobs.
I hope your administration will instruct U.S. Attorney Sutton to ask the court, first, that they be freed pending their appeals (so they won't be beaten again by the criminal illegal immigrants housed in the same prison), and second, that Sutton should ask the judge to vacate the convictions on the basis of prosecutorial illegalities in the first trial.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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