Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., at news conference with now-imprisoned former U.S. Border Patrol agent Jose Compean
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., is calling on the Bush administration to conduct a thorough review of harsh treatment convicted Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean reportedly are receiving in solitary confinement.
Rohrabacher argues that for 10 months Ramos and Compean have been in conditions more severe than experienced by terrorists held by the U.S. at the Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The congressman also disclosed he has written a letter to Manhattan federal trial judge Michael Mukasey, Bush’s nominee to replace Alberto Gonzales as attorney general, demanding that upon confirmation Mukasey conduct an unbiased review of the agents’ prosecution.
“Given the close personal relationship between the prosecuting U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and President Bush, past requests for inquiries into prosecutorial misconduct in this case have been ignored,” Rohrabacher claimed in a statement.
“Conflicting statements made by Mr. Sutton during Senate testimony in July and to the press have yet to be clarified,” Rohrabacher continued, “and newly obtained information regarding the treatment of the officers in solitary confinement for the last 10 months reveals conditions that are harsh and unnecessarily punitive in nature.”
Ramos and Compean received sentences of 11 and 12 years respectively for their actions in the shooting and wounding of Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, a Mexican illegal who was fleeing across the Mexican border and resisting arrest after having smuggled 750 pounds of marijuana into the U.S.
In a fact sheet comparison of Gitmo Camp 4, the medium-security terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, and the solitary confinement experienced by Ramos and Compean under the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, Rohrabacher claims the former border agents’ spend 23 hours per day in their cells, with only one hour permitted outdoors per day.
Camp 4 Gitmo detainees, according to the fact sheet, are allowed to live in a communal setting that permits up to nine hours per day in outside exercise and recreational facilities that included covered picnic tables and ping-pong tables, as well as access to soccer fields and volleyball courts.
Rohrabacher’s analysis is backed up by a U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons program statement issued Dec. 29, 1987, which defines the solitary confinement standards for the administration detention of prisoners on a non-punitive status who are isolated for their own safety.
On Feb. 6, WND broke the story Ramos was severely beaten by inmates at the Federal Correctional Complex in Yazoo City, Miss., where he was initially placed in general prison population.
The attack came immediately after the airing of a segment on Ramos and Compean by the “America’s Most Wanted” television show.
The White House initially cautioned WND against publishing the report, but the Bureau of Prisons confirmed the assault.
Ramos and Compean began serving their federal prison sentences on Jan. 17, while their cases were yet under appeal.
An American Armed Forces Press Services news article published Feb. 16, 2006, confirms Camp 4 Gitmo detainees have privileges that include culturally sensitive food, periodic visits from a designated librarian, popular books translated into Arabic, electric fans in the bays, ice water available around the clock and plastic tubs with lids for detainees to store personal items. The detainees also are issued white uniforms, considered a more culturally respected color than the orange suits typical of many prisoners in the U.S.
While Gitmo Camp 4 detainees get weekly ice cream parties and access to Subway or McDonald’s meals, Rohrabacher’s fact sheet says Ramos and Compean receive no special meals or extra food privileges.
At one point, Ramos lost 30 or more pounds and his family was concerned he was not receiving needed prescription medications.
Gitmo Camp 4 detainees are allowed to watch Arabic family TV programs and soccer highlights, while Ramos and Compean are denied access to TV.
Gitmo Camp 4 detainees are allowed showers after daily exercise periods, while Ramos is permitted only three showers weekly and none on the weekend.
The former border agents are kept in concrete slab solitary confinement maximum security cells, while Gitmo Camp 4 detainees live in a communal setting.
WND reported a request by Ramos and Compean to be released on bond pending appeal was denied.
Critics point out the Bush administration refused to intervene on behalf of Ramos’ and Compean’s bond request, in sharp contrast to the president’s decision to commute the sentence of convicted White House aide Scooter Libby before he spent a day in federal prison.