JANUARY 11, 2007
President George W. Bush has pardoned 14 criminals, including several drug dealers and a man convicted for bombing a coal mine, but he refused to pardon two U.S. Border Patrol agents sentenced to prison for intercepting an illegal immigrant drug smuggler at the Texas-Mexico border last year.
Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean were guarding the Mexican border near El Paso in February 2005 when they intercepted a van loaded with 743 pounds of marijuana. The admitted drug smuggler, an illegal alien named Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, tried to flee and one of the agents shot him in the buttocks though he still got away.
Federal prosecutors actually went to Mexico and offered the drug dealer immunity to testify against the Border Patrol agents who were subsequently convicted on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm and violating the drug smuggler’s civil rights. The agents were sentenced to 11 and 12-year prison terms.
The Department of Justice claims that the defendants were prosecuted because they fired their weapons at a man who had attempted to surrender by holding his open hands in the air, causing the man to run in fear of what the agents would do to him next. One U.S. Attorney involved in the case said that it is a violation of Border Patrol regulations to go after someone who is fleeing, even if it is a drug kingpin or a terrorist.
Lawmakers from both parties were outraged and one Congressman called the convictions a travesty of justice beyond description. The White House has received at least 50 requests for presidential pardons from members of Congress and hundreds of thousands of additional requests from outraged citizens who feel the agents have been wrongly punished for doing their job. One group alone, calling it an outrageous injustice, got more than 130,000 signatures requesting a presidential pardon.
The president has ignored the pleas, instead freeing a bunch of drug dealers and a violent criminal while two Border Patrol agents go to prison for protecting their country from drug smugglers.
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