For Release: March 26, 2008
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11
or [email protected]
Bush Criticized for Pardoning Drug Offenders, Embezzler While Leaving Border Patrol Agents Behind Bars
Washington, D.C. - The chairman of the Project 21 leadership network is condemning President George W. Bush's March 25 issuance of a new set of presidential pardons that includes forgiveness for drug smugglers, an embezzler and others but not for jailed Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean.
Ramos and Compean entered prison in January of 2007 after a controversial ruling on their actions in apprehendng a fleeing drug smuggler.
"I believe the President's stolid refusal to pardon Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean is the most unconscionable act of disloyalty he has perpetrated upon those sworn to protect our well-being. I know this feeling is shared by many other patriotic Americans," said Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie. "This sends a disturbing signal to the men and women who protect our borders, not to mention how it must affect the morale of those serving overseas."
On February 17, 2005, Ramos and Compean pursued Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila on foot after Aldrete-Davila abandoned a van containing 743 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $1 million. During the chase, Ramos shot at Aldrete-Davila in the belief that Aldrete-Davila had drawn a gun of his own. Aldrete-Davila escaped across the U.S.-Mexico border, and Ramos assumed Aldrete-Davila was unhurt. In fact, Aldrete-Davila had been shot in the buttock.
U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton later charged that Ramos and Compean violated Border Patrol policy by pursuing Aldrete-Davila without supervisor approval, moving spent shell casings and improperly reporting the fired shots. Aldrete-Davila was granted immunity to testify against the agents. Ramos and Compean were sentenced to 11 and 12 years in prison, respectively. They are currently in solitary confinement in maximum-security prisons.
The Ramos and Compean convictions have been questioned by many, who point to the following: During the trial, jurors were not told of Aldrete-Davila's continued drug trafficking, for which he has now been arrested and indicted. Jurors were also unaware that a fellow agent who testified against Ramos and Compean is a life-long friend of Aldrete-Davila - a violation of Border Patrol Policy in itself.
T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a labor union which has organized workers at the agency, testified before the U.S. Senate that a medical examination of Aldrete-Davila supported the agents' description of events and complied with Border Patrol and Justice Department policies.
The convictions of Ramos and Compean are currently on appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
"Leaving good cops behind bars is unconscionable," added Project 21's Massie. "President Bush can argue he is granting mercy only after sentences are served, but we cannot forget that he immediately commuted the sentence of his friend and political ally Scooter Libby. Similar clemency should be given to Ramos and Compean, if not a full pardon. If he refuses, we can only hope that the next president will not only do so but also treat our courageous border guards with the respect they deserve."
Massie wrote about the Ramos and Compean case in a commentary published in The Washington Times on December 28, 2007. This commentary is available at http://tiny.cc/MassieRamosCompean.
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21's website at www.project21.org/P21Index.html.