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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
A heavily redacted Department of Homeland Security report on the prosecutions of Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean was issued by Assistant Inspector General Elizabeth M. Redman, one of four investigators called upon to resign for lying to Congress.
The 77-page report – which Redman issued with her signature in November – was released to the public yesterday on the heels of DHS Inspector General Robert Skinner’s admission at a hearing that his deputies falsely told lawmakers the agency had documentary proof the border agents were rogue cops “out to shoot Mexicans.”
Yesterday, Culberson called for Redman and the three other officials to resign.
Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has received permission from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to hold a hearing on the case.
“I strongly believe that the sentences in this case are too extreme, given the criminal nature of the defendant and his possession of large quantities of drugs,” Feinstein said in a statement. “These men were given sentences that some individuals who are convicted of murder wouldn’t receive.”
Also on Capitol Hill yesterday, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., issued a stern warning to President Bush following the report that Ramos was beaten by prison inmates Saturday: “I tell you, Mr. President, if these men – especially after this assault – are murdered in prison, if one of them lose their lives, there’s going to be some sort of impeachment talk in Capitol Hill.”
The DHS investigator’s report was released yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas. As WND reported, Poe had become increasingly frustrated with DHS, accusing the agency of stonewalling the handover to Congress of investigative reports promised more than four months ago.
The controversy dates back to a Sept. 26 meeting Redman and three other DHS investigators had with Poe, Culberson and two other Republican members of the Texas delegation, Reps. Michael McCaul and Kenny Merchant.
Skinner testified under oath Tuesday before the Subcommittee on Homeland Security of the House Appropriations Committee his investigators “misrepresented” to the Texas delegation that Ramos and Compean said they wanted “to shoot some Mexicans” the day of Feb. 17, 2005, incident in which a drug smuggler escaped across the border after a confrontation with the agents.
In a telephone interview today, WND asked Poe if he agreed that Redman should resign.
“There has to be some kind of consequence for misleading members of Congress in this investigation,” he replied. “This was not a statement that the pickup was green when it turned out to be blue.”
Poe emphasized the “misleading information went to the crux of the government’s case that there was some kind of a so-called ‘conspiracy’ among these two Border Patrol agents to go out that day and shoot some foreign nationals.”
“That was a total fabrication,” he said.
Poe said that if the Justice Department does not look into the DHS misrepresentations, then “Congress will just have to weigh in on its options.”
Poe contended the “whole government case against Ramos and Compean was based on the statements of a drug dealer who was given back-room deals with the federal government.”
A former prosecutor and judge, Poe added: “Unfortunately I have found in my experience that when somebody starts making deals with criminal witnesses, you tend to get the testimony you wanted to hear.”
Poe expressed concern the government has run an intentionally prejudicial case against the former Border Patrol agents.
“Just based on the redacted report we got yesterday from DHS, the Department of Homeland Security seems to pick and choose what evidence it wants to believe out of the incident,” he said.
Poe asked why the DHS did not, before Skinner’s testimony under oath, inform Congress its investigators, including Redman, had insisted the reports contain evidence Ramos and Compean were rogue agents.
“I’m glad the inspector general was candid with members of Congress,” Poe told WND. “Still, it would have been appropriate months ago if someone had come forward with the truth about the incident rather than having to wait until somebody got placed under oath and was forced to testify.”
DHS released the report yesterday as a substantiation of the agents’ prosecution, but the congressmen who have challenged the administration insist otherwise.
Tara Setmayer, a spokeswoman for Rohrabacher, told the AP the report “has just emboldened our position because there is nothing in there that indicates these agents were not justified in shooting this individual.”
“This finally sheds some light on what these agents were thinking,” she said, pointing to a written statement by Compean in which she said reflects he “clearly believed the drug smuggler had a weapon and feared for his life.”