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Rep. Dana Rohrabacher
The Mexican government’s alleged intervention in the case of U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean will be the focus of a hearing today by a House subcommittee.
Ramos and Compean are serving 11- and 12-year prison sentences, respectively, after a jury convicted them last year of violating federal gun laws and covering up the shooting of a drug smuggler as he fled back to Mexico after driving across the border with more than 700 pounds of marijuana. The office of El Paso U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton gave the smuggler, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, immunity to serve as the government’s star witness and testify against the border agents.
As WND reported, no criminal investigation of the agents began until after the Mexican consulate complained the agents violated Aldrete-Davila’s civil rights by shooting him without warrant.
The hearings were called after Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R.-Calif., ranking member on Internal Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed concern about possible foreign influence in the prosecution.
The government has not disclosed all communications between the Mexican Consulate and the U.S. government concerning the Ramos-Compean case.
As WND reported, Rohrabacher wants to examine the prosecution’s provision of unconditional border crossing visas giving to the smuggler and whether he used one during a second alleged smuggling attempt.
Representatives of the State Department have been scheduled as witnesses, including Ambassador Charles Shapiro, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere; and Gary Star, director of the Diplomatic Security Service.
Sutton declined to testify at the hearing, as did Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner.
Sutton testified last month at a Senate hearing on the case that led to Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, asking Bush to commute the sentences after they concluded “it became very clear the sentences did not match the crime.”
In an emotionally charged press conference last Wednesday, Rohrabacher challenged Sutton “to testify or resign his office.”
Rohrabacher asserted in a statement yesterday the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have “done their best to impede our investigation into Ramos and Compean by not providing documents and now refuse to send the proper witnesses to account for their decisions.”
“This shows an arrogance and continued disrespect for congressional oversight by the Bush administration,” Rohrabacher said.
In February, Skinner admitted to a House committee under oath that DHS investigators ” misrepresented” reports when claiming to the Texas delegation that Ramos and Compean were rogue cops who wanted to shoot a Mexican.
Despite repeated requests from Rohrabacher’s office, the Bush administration has refused to disclose all communications and deals made between Sutton’s office and Aldrete-Davila in the decisions to grant the smuggler immunity and give him border pass cards in exchange for his sworn testimony against Ramos and Compean at trial.
The hearing, entitled ” The Case of Ramos and Compean: The Across-Border Context,” was scheduled to start today at 2 p.m., but it has been delayed until 3 p.m. It will take place in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building.