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  1. #1
    Willowdared's Avatar
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    Bush commutes sentences of former US border agents

    Bush commutes sentences of former US border agents
    By DEB RIECHMANN, The Associated Press
    10:55 a.m. January 19, 2009

    WASHINGTON In his final acts of clemency, President George W. Bush on Monday commuted the prison sentences of two former U.S. Border Patrol agents whose convictions for shooting a Mexican drug dealer ignited fierce debate about illegal immigration.

    Bush's decision to commute the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who tried to cover up the shooting, was welcomed by both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. They had long argued that the agents were merely doing their jobs, defending the American border against criminals. They also maintained that the more than 10-year prison sentences the pair was given were too harsh.

    Rancor over their convictions, sentencing and firings has simmered ever since the shooting occurred in 2005. The former border guards in El Paso, Texas, are expected to be released from prison within the next two months.

    "After four years of fighting this, it's taken a toll on me and my daughter, and really the whole family," said Joe Loya, Ramos' father-in law, who has received tens of thousands of supportive e-mails and spent much of the past two years traveling the country to speak about the case.

    He said his daughter, Monica Ramos, called from New York after learning the news that her husband was to be released from a federal prison just outside Phoenix.

    "She could hardly speak," Loya said.

    Ramos and Compean became a rallying point among conservatives and on talk shows where their supporters called them heroes. Nearly the entire bipartisan congressional delegation from Texas and other lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle pleaded with Bush to grant them clemency.

    Bush didn't pardon the men for their crimes, but decided instead to commute their sentences because he believed they were excessive and that they had already suffered the loss of their jobs, freedom and reputations, a senior administration official said.

    The action by the president, who believes the border agents received fair trials and that the verdicts were just, does not diminish the seriousness of their crimes, the official said.

    Compean and Ramos, were convicted of shooting admitted drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete Davila in the buttocks as he fled across the Rio Grande, away from an abandoned van load of marijuana. The border agents argued during their trials that they believed the smuggler was armed and that they shot him in self defense. The prosecutor in the case said there was no evidence linking the smuggler to the van of marijuana. The prosecutor also said the border agents didn't report the shooting and tampered with evidence by picking up several spent shell casings.

    The agents were fired after their convictions on several charges, including assault with a dangerous weapon and with serious bodily injury, violation of civil rights and obstruction of justice. All their convictions, except obstruction of justice, were upheld on appeal.

    Compean and Ramo were sentenced to 12 years and 11 years in prison, respectively. They each also were fined $2,000 and sentenced to three years of supervised release. Under the terms of Bush's commutation, their prison sentences will expire on March 20, but their three-year terms of supervised release and the fines will remain intact.

    With the new acts of clemency, Bush has granted a total of 189 pardons and 11 commutations.

    That's fewer than half as many as Presidents Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan issued during their two-term tenures. Bush technically has until noon on Tuesday when President-elect Barack Obama is sworn into office to exercise his executive pardon authority, but presidential advisers said no more were forthcoming.

    The president had made most of his pardon decisions on low-profile cases, but his batch in December created controversy.

    Isaac Robert Toussie of Brooklyn, N.Y, convicted of making false statements to the Department of Housing and Urban Development and of mail fraud, was among 19 people Bush pardoned just before Christmas. But after learning in news reports that Toussie's father had donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Republican Party a few months ago, as well as other information, the president reversed his decision on Toussie's case.

    The White House said the decision to revoke the pardon a step unheard of in recent memory was based on information about the extent and nature of Toussie's prior criminal offenses, and that neither the White House counsel's office nor the president had been aware of a political contribution by Toussie's father and wanted to avoid creating an appearance of impropriety.

    In an earlier high-profile official act of forgiveness, Bush saved Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, from serving prison time in the case of the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. Libby was convicted of perjury and obstructing justice. Bush could still grant him a full pardon, although Libby has not applied for one.

    Clinton issued a total of 457 in eight years in office. Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, issued 77 in four years. Reagan issued 406 in eight years, and President Carter issued 563 in four years. Since World War II, the largest number of pardons and commutations 2,031 came from President Truman, who served 82 days short of eight years.
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  2. #2
    deputysykes's Avatar
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    I don't know all of the specifics of the Border Agents' case, but from what I heard, I think this was a good move by Bush.
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    Damn, PDawg. You're quick, I was just going to post this.


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  4. #4
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    It's about time but I wish it had been a pardon.

  5. #5
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    Should have been a pardon. Should have happened a long time ago. Should have fired the corrupt US Attorney who refused to prosecute the drug smuggler on multiple occasions so he could continue the witch hunt on cops.
    Pleasing nobody, one person at a time.

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xiphos View Post
    Should have been a pardon. Should have happened a long time ago. Should have fired the corrupt US Attorney who refused to prosecute the drug smuggler on multiple occasions so he could continue the witch hunt on cops.
    +infinity
    I'm disappointed it wasn't a pardon, but i've been disappointed by W before, so I guess it is to be expected. I honestly thought he might not do anything for them, so to commute their sentences was better than nothing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xiphos View Post
    Should have been a pardon. Should have happened a long time ago. Should have fired the corrupt US Attorney who refused to prosecute the drug smuggler on multiple occasions so he could continue the witch hunt on cops.
    Agreed.

    ... but I'll take a commutation as a positive, (and I'm sure Ramos and Compean will as well).

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  8. #8
    Xiphos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by countybear View Post
    Agreed.

    ... but I'll take a commutation as a positive, (and I'm sure Ramos and Compean will as well).
    Oh, I'm very glad they are getting out of prison. I'm just very disappointed in how the whole situation was handled from the get go.
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  9. #9
    countybear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xiphos View Post
    Oh, I'm very glad they are getting out of prison. I'm just very disappointed in how the whole situation was handled from the get go.
    Agreed again, wholeheartedly.

    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."
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  10. #10
    Retdetsgt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xiphos View Post
    Oh, I'm very glad they are getting out of prison. I'm just very disappointed in how the whole situation was handled from the get go.
    I agree too. It's been sitting way too long. I can kinda see why they didn't get a pardon. The sticky thing is they did try to cover it up from what I've read. I'm not trying to start a debate about that issue, but I think if they'd been upfront immediately with what happened, it would have looked better for them. As I recall a supervisor recommended they try to hide what happened. I dunno what happened to him. But they never deserved to be convicted and sent to prison for that regardless.
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  11. #11
    MacLean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retdetsgt View Post
    I agree too. It's been sitting way too long. I can kinda see why they didn't get a pardon. The sticky thing is they did try to cover it up from what I've read. I'm not trying to start a debate about that issue, but I think if they'd been upfront immediately with what happened, it would have looked better for them. As I recall a supervisor recommended they try to hide what happened. I dunno what happened to him. But they never deserved to be convicted and sent to prison for that regardless.
    Sources close to the President indicated - as has been reported anyhow - that the reason the President did not pardon the officers was because of their attempt to cover up or subvert evidence.

    That said, Sutton can kiss my ass. He went on a witch hunt and relied on a drug dealer.

    If these gents attempted a cover up, *that* is what they should have been charged with or disciplined for, whichever is appropriate.
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  12. #12
    mtaylor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    Sources close to the President indicated - as has been reported anyhow - that the reason the President did not pardon the officers was because of their attempt to cover up or subvert evidence.

    That said, Sutton can kiss my ass. He went on a witch hunt and relied on a drug dealer.

    If these gents attempted a cover up, *that* is what they should have been charged with or disciplined for, whichever is appropriate.
    I'm with you pardon their original charge however charge them with obstruction for trying to cover it and sentence them to time served and be done with it.

  13. #13
    MacLean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtaylor View Post
    I'm with you pardon their original charge however charge them with obstruction for trying to cover it and sentence them to time served and be done with it.

    It may not have been criminal - but an administrative punishment was what I was getting at.

    I'm not an expert on the case or the allegations.
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  14. #14
    Retdetsgt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean View Post
    It may not have been criminal - but an administrative punishment was what I was getting at.

    I'm not an expert on the case or the allegations.
    I suspect the destroying the empty cartidges and not reporting the shooting is what got them convicted by a jury. A rotten prosecutor can push that aspect of it with the idea that they knew they had done wrong and that would carry weight with a jury. The way they initially handled it would probably make a layperson suspicious at the very least. Covering up is bad, but when LE does it, it really looks awful.

    I don't know how many times I've seen cops become their own worst enemy. Unfortunately, throw in an asshole attorney and you've got a real mess...... With a decent USA, it probably would have been adminstrative.
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    Xiphos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retdetsgt View Post
    I suspect the destroying the empty cartidges and not reporting the shooting is what got them convicted by a jury. A rotten prosecutor can push that aspect of it with the idea that they knew they had done wrong and that would carry weight with a jury. The way they initially handled it would probably make a layperson suspicious at the very least. Covering up is bad, but when LE does it, it really looks awful.

    I don't know how many times I've seen cops become their own worst enemy. Unfortunately, throw in an asshole attorney and you've got a real mess...... With a decent USA, it probably would have been adminstrative.
    Could not agree more.
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  16. #16
    SPD's Avatar
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    I was very glad to see that this sentence was commuted. This story and the officers' conviction and sentencing worried me greatly at the time. While a full pardon would have been better, this at least gets them out of a prison they do not belong in.

  17. #17
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    I also agree that this could have been done administratively but these guys got hung out to dry by theirs who washed their hands of it as soon as the sword of investigation was over their heads. Sadly the prosecutor sold the image of crooked cops and got these two convicted.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcsdscott View Post
    I also agree that this could have been done administratively but these guys got hung out to dry by theirs who washed their hands of it as soon as the sword of investigation was over their heads. Sadly the prosecutor sold the image of crooked cops and got these two convicted.
    Sutton has made his name doing exactly that, to other cops as well.
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  19. #19
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    It's about damn time - Bush pardoned a lot worse people than this, and a lot earlier in the game.

    I suspect that one of the reasons for the delay was so Obama's gala affair tomorrow will divert Mexican activists from gathering enough people up to have any big street marches in protest over it.

    I'm sure the lack of a full pardon was due to the falsifying reports - But again, that pales in comparison to some of the swindlers who were pardoned months ago..

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  20. #20
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    I'm surprised Bush even did this. I figured he was going to let them sit in prison. I am glad he is letting them out though. If anyone should have gotten in trouble it should have been their supervisor that they reported it to. He is the one that initiated the cover up.
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