Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., at news conference with now-imprisoned former U.S. Border Patrol agent Jose Compean
President Bush’s spokeswoman, Dana Perino, has brushed off a request from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., for the Bush administration to review the harsh treatment convicted Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean reportedly are receiving in solitary confinement.
Rohrabacher had made the request, arguing 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 said he has written 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.
Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, raised the issue during a press briefing at the White House.
“Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has asked for what he calls a thorough review of the treatment given Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean in solitary confinement, saying they have been treated more severely than terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay. And my question: How will the president respond to this request?”
Apparently not at all, according to Perino.
“Well, I think – I’d have to refer you to the Department of Justice to give you any more information about anyone who is in detention. We don’t get involved in that from here,” she said.
Rohrabacher said previous requests for investigations into alleged prosecutorial misconduct had been ignored. And he said then in July the prosecutor in the case, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, gave “conflicting statements” before the Senate.
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.
WND reported a request by Ramos and Compean to be released on bond pending appeal was denied.
Bush has, however, gotten involved in other cases. As WND reported former U.N. ambassador John Bolton said just in the last week the Bush administration is caving in to global opinion by siding with Mexico and the International Court of Justice in their attempt to overturn the death penalty of an illegal alien convicted of raping and murdering two teenage girls.
It’s “a bad mistake, but one of many mistakes, I’m sad to say, the administration has made recently,” Bolton said in an interview with nationally syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham.
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Jose Medellin, who confessed in 1993 to participating in the rape and murder of Houston teenagers Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena. The girls were sodomized and strangled with their shoe laces. Medellin bragged about keeping one girl’s Mickey Mouse watch as a souvenir of the crime.
Medellin and four others were convicted of capital murder and sent to Texas’ death row. The intervention in the case by the Bush administration comes after the International Court of Justice in the Hague found Medellin was not informed of his right to contact the Mexican Consulate for legal assistance. The cases of some 50 other Mexicans on death row could also be affected.
In a second question, Kinsolving asked bout the possibility of a divided Jerusalem in the future.
“For 19 years after 1948, the city of Jerusalem was divided between Israel and the Palestinians under Jordan. And my question: What does the president see by way of any sign that the Palestinians, without Jordan, will be any more accepting of Israeli sovereignty over half of Jerusalem now than they were during those 19 years that led to the Six-Day War?”
This time Perino deferred.
“Let me just – let me just point you to the Middle East peace conference that we’re going to be having here this fall. Secretary Rice has been in the region; Stephen Hadley is going to go to the region late next week. This is all in support of Secretary Rice’s efforts to get ready for that meeting and we’ll let that meeting take place before we comment.”
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