Skip to comments.House moves to free Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting Mexican drug dealer
Posted on 07/25/2007 10:05:19 PM PDT by esryle
WASHINGTON (AP) The House on Wednesday approved a move by conservative Republicans to try to set free two Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a Mexican drug dealer.
After a long, emotional debate, the House voted by voice to block the Bureau of Prisons from keeping former agents Ignacio Ramos and Alonso Compean in federal prison. Ramos and Compean are serving 11- and 12-year federal prison sentences, respectively, for the 2005 shooting of Osvaldo Aldrete Davila on the Texas border near El Paso.
Ramos is serving time at Yazoo City Federal Correctional Complex about 40 miles northeast of Jackson, Miss. He was severely beaten by other inmates at the prison in February.
The case has caused a furor among conservative lawmakers and on talk radio across the country.
The agents shot him in the buttocks as he fled, but got rid of crucial evidence and failed to report the incident as required. They later found a load of marijuana in the van but U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton said there was no proof to tie the drugs to Aldrete so he could not prosecute him.
"The Ramos and Compean conviction has been the greatest misjustice that I have seen, and I have seen a lot," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.
Democrats such as Alan Mollohan of West Virginia opposed the attempt to free the two men, arguing that it is not Congress' place to interfere in criminal cases, particularly when they are under appeal as the Ramos and Compean case it.
But Democrats opted not to call for a roll call vote. It could be dropped from the bill during House-Senate negotiations this fall.
The move came as House lawmakers debated a bill funding the Justice Department for the budget year beginning Oct. 1. The underlying measure is likely to pass the House later this week, but the Senate has yet to take up a companion measure.
The language aimed at freeing the men would achieve that goal by blocking the Bureau of Prisons from spending any money to incarcerate them.
"What this does is release these two individuals while the appeal goes on," said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.
Earlier Wednesday, lawmakers said U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, who prosecuted the two agents, had refused an invitation to testify before a House subcommittee looking into whether Mexico had a role in the agents' case.
Sutton, the federal prosecutor for Texas' western judicial district, was asked to testify next week before a subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
While saying that his office did not comment on nonpublic matters while cases are pending, Sutton said his office did not have contact with the Mexican government. Sutton made the statements in a July 18 letter to Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., the full committee chairman.
Sutton's decision not to testify angered some lawmakers, particularly a handful of House Republicans who have been pressing President Bush to pardon the agents or commute their sentences.
Rohrabacher said Sutton should "either testify under oath before Congress and explain these things or resign as U.S. attorney."
A message left with Sutton's office was not returned. He testified last week before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he endured some heavy grilling from senators.
Rohrabacher released copies of Customs and Border Protection documents about multiple trips across the border Aldrete made while assisting prosecutors. Sutton had said in the Senate hearing that the immigration documents are a tool often used by prosecutors for witnesses or defendants.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, submitted a document in the hearing alleging Aldrete smuggled drugs while making one of those allowed trips across the border. Sutton said at the hearing that the allegations were under investigation.
"These documents verify drug dealer Aldrete Davila had an unconditional, unescorted access pass to cross into the United States," Rohrabacher said. "Free access passes were issued to him even after he was identified by the DEA in a second shipment of narcotics into our country."
I am embarrassed that Sutton is still on my payroll.
Get it done already!
How could Bush have let Congress get to the right of him on this issue? What a catastrophe.
And Sutton should be hounded with this to the end of career.
The Democrats allowing this to pass is interesting. It was my read that amnesty had absolutely no chance in the House where Democrats did not want to commit electoral suicide. I guess this could be read as there is significant oppositon to amnesty among Democrats. I guess it could also be read that the Democrats feel that is a way to embarrass the President and his incompetent Justice Department. Either way, it shows how out of touch the Senate is and in particular the many treacherous RINOS.
“Democrats such as Alan Mollohan of West Virginia opposed the attempt to free the two men”
I guess this clown was also in favor of amnesty for illegals. Fancy how the Dims support real criminals and keep good, honest, patriots in jail. I was in El Paso when all this took place and the scenes there were very, very sad. Their families have suffered enough.
Free Ramos and Compean. Shame on George W. Bush.
Thanks to Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo!
Hunter will go to hearing [”Fight” for full pardon for border patrol agents (Duncan Hunter)]
Tancredo to Offer Amendment That Would Free Ramos, Compean
Notice the absence of the Conservatives’ names in this article.
Duncan Hunter played a large part in this, as well. He has been fighting for Ramos and Compean since they were arrested. Bush is hardnosed about our borders, and Sutton is his good friend. What happens now, I wonder?
I am embarrassed that Sutton is still on my payroll.
I agree - how do we fire the bum?!
I just don’t get Bush. I read over the transcripts and I can’t understand how a jury could return a guilty verdict. They may have violated some BP procedures, but I certainly don’t see they PROVED these men did anything beyond that. No ballistics, no proof the criminal was unarmed, no proof he was shot by the agents. Just the criminals word against the agents. These men were railroaded, period, and I don’t see a reason for such zeal in convicting them of this outside the obvious. Maybe the same reason Bush and Chertoff are ignoring the law and not getting the fence built?
I am sure Perdogg and CharlesWilson, the law and order apologists for Sutton will check in shortly. Hold Congressmen’s feet to the fire on this one!
How does the US Congress have power to intervene in a judicial proceeding? Any constitution lawyers out there?
I’m just curious. (I favor significant reduction of their sentences. However I have not heard good reasons for overlooking their coverup.)
Former mayor of SanDiego (I think) was on a talk show discussing his research.
It’s about time....what a farce.
I agree, my first thoughts at reading this....pretty random, almost as unbelievable as a court using Rowe vs Wade to justify elective homicide
Can Bush multitask?
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