Carjackers, drug dealers, thieves and a moonshiner have been granted pardons this year by President Bush, but not Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who were convicted of firing their guns at a fleeing drug smuggler while they were protecting the integrity of the U.S. border with Mexico.
However, Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., says he is confident his resolution asking President Bush to commute the agents’ sentences will pass easily with strong bipartisan support.
Delahunt told WND he plans to deliver to the White House a letter before Christmas, expressing his confidence his House Concurrent Resolution 267 will be approved when Congress reconvenes in January.
“In the letter we are going to express our hope the president will act immediately, not waiting for the House to pass the resolution,” Delahunt said.
Strong bipartisan support forms in the House
“Every member of Congress I have solicited has signed on as a co-sponsor,” Delahunt said.
With the current legislative session rapidly coming to a close, Delahunt said he expects the proposal to come up as soon as the House reconvenes after Christmas.
The pardons list was released this week without fanfare, and most of those named were convicts who served minimal – or no – prison time. Included were:
- William Charles Jordan Jr., 64, from Dover, Penn., who had a role in a football gambling ring.
- Jeffrey James Bruce, of Chandler, Okla., who had a 1994 conviction for possessing stolen mail.
- James Albert Bodendieck Sr., of New Athens, Ill. He had a conviction for interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle back in 1959.
- Charles Wayne Bryant, of Sautee, Ga., with a 1962 conviction for theft of United States mail.
- Carleton Gregory Carpenter, of Wayland, Mass., convicted of giving false information regarding a federal firearms license.
- John Edward Casto, of Ripley, W.Va., who had a 1990 conviction for distributing cocaine.
- Jackie Ray Clayborn, of Deer, Ark., convicted in 1993 of manufacturing marijuana.
- Debbie Sue Conklin, of Douglas, Wyo., convicted of conspiracy to distribute drugs in 1990.
- Charles Richard Fennell, of Valencia, Calif., convicted of giving a false statement to a financial institution.
- John Fornaby, of Boynton Beach, Fla., convicted in 1991 of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
- Daniel Ray Freeman, of Douglas, Ga., with a 1960s conviction for violating liquor laws.
- Thomas Dee Gandy, of Wichita, Kan., convicted in 1996 of mail fraud affecting a financial institution.
- Melton Harrell, of Cairo, Ga., with a 1976 conviction for stealing government property.
- Paul Dwight Hawkins, of Lafayette, La., convicted in 1990 of conspiracy to import marijuana.
- Roger Paul Ingram, of Round Rock, Texas, with a 1987 conspiracy conviction.
- William Lucius Jones Jr., of Birmingham, Ala., convicted in 1972 of illegal possession of an unregistered firearm.
- Saul Kaplan, of Scranton, Pa., convicted in 1992 of violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act.
- Billy Joe LaForce, from San Antonio, convicted in 1991 of conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute.
- Rudolph J. Macejak, from Morton Grove, Ill., convicted of having an unregistered firearm in 1986.
- John F. McDermott, of Moretown, Vt., convicted in 1995 of receiving kickbacks in defense contracts.
- William James Norman, of Tallahassee, Fla., convicted in 1970 of possession of an unregistered distillery, carrying on the business of a distiller without giving the required bond and other counts.
- Glanus Terrell Osborne, of Dallas, Ga., convicted in 1990 of possession of a stolen motor vehicle.
- John Gordon Smith, of Littleton, Colo., convicted in 1988 of making a false statement to a federal agency.
- Walter J. Sweeney, III, from Cincinnati, Ohio, convicted in 1993 of attempting to evade income taxes.
- Nancy Lynn Thompson, from Bainbridge, Ga., convicted in 1997 of embezzlement.
- Daryl Toney, of Montgomery, Ala., convicted in 1993 of misdemeanor theft.
- Charles Eddie Trobaugh, of Whitleyville, Tenn., convicted in 1965 of liquor law violations.
- Samuel Lewis Whisel, of Boiling Springs, Pa., convicted in 1989 in connection with the interstate transportation of stolen goods.
- Steven Wayne Whitlock, of Sarasota, Fla., convicted in 1990 of conspiracy to import marijuana.
Earlier this week, rumors circulated in the House that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus had expressed objections to H.C.R. 267, the resolution that calls for help for the Border Patrol agents.
In an e-mail to WND, Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., the chairman, dispelled those.
“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has had no role in blocking consideration of any resolution regarding Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean,” Baca told WND.
As WND reported Dec. 6, the Delahunt resolution was co-sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. and Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas.
According to Delahunt’s office, H.C.R. 267 now has 25 co-sponsors, including 11 Democrats and 14 Republicans.
Included on the list of co-sponsors are Republican presidential candidates Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.
“I am completely confident we will be able to pass a bi-partisan resolution that includes support from the right and the left,” Delahunt said.
“Members in the House feel strongly the excessively long sentences Ramos and Compean are serving is a miscarriage of justice,” he explained. “We have strong bipartisan agreement in the House that President Bush should immediately commute the sentences of Ramos and Compean to the time they have already served.”
Ramos and Compean are serving 11- and 12-year sentences, respectively, for shooting after fleeing drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila in an incident on the Texas border with Mexico on Feb. 17, 2005.
The language of H.C.R. 267 compares Ramos and Compean’s sentences to average sentences as reported by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
In 2006, the latest year for which data are available, the average sentences in federal cases of sexual abuse averaged eight and one-third years; four years for manslaughter; three years for federal cases of manslaughter; three years for aggravated assault; and three years for federal cases involving firearms charges.
“It makes no sense that Ramos and Compean should spend more time in federal prison than murders and rapists,” Delahunt, a former prosecutor with two decades of experience, stressed.
Delahunt objected strongly to the mandatory minimum 10-year sentence Ramos and Compean are serving under 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c), a law Congress passed to increase the prison terms of federal felons, including bank robbers, who carried a weapon in the commission of their crimes.
“It just isn’t right, period,” Delahunt said. “In this case there is bipartisan agreement in the House that Ramos and Compean have already served enough time.”
Ramos and Compean have been imprisoned nearly 11 months, since Jan. 17, awaiting appeal.
As WND reported, the three-judge appeals panel in the 5th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals heard the Ramos and Compean appeal on Dec. 3.
At the hearing, the judges questioned the government closely about the appropriateness of prosecuting Ramos and Compean under 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c).
Judge E. Grady Jolly commented the “government overreacted” in applying 18 U.S.C. Section 924(c) to Ramos and Compean.
The appellate court is expected to issue its ruling by the end of January.
House reacts against Bush pardons
Rohrabacher joined Delahunt in a joint press conference to criticize President Bush for leaving Ramos and Compean off the pardon list.
“The president’s heartless ignoring of the fundamental miscarriage of justice in the case of Ramos and Compean is a snub to the families and a slap in the face to millions of Americans who have pleaded with the president to show some mercy for Ramos and Compean,” Rohrabacher said.
At the White House press briefing, press secretary Dana Perino told reporters Ramos and Compean could go through the administrative process required to apply for a pardon.
Stressing Ramos and Compean should follow procedures, Perino commented, “We’ve had extensive comment on this, and there’s appeals that are under way.”
Perino’s comments infuriated Rohrabacher.
“The White House continues to hide behind the supposed policy that pardons must go through a somewhat strenuous procedure by the Justice Department, but the handling of the Scooter Libby case exposes that falsehood,” Rohrabacher told reporters.
On July 2, President Bush commuted the sentence of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, calling the sentence “excessive.”
Libby, who worked on Vice President Cheney’s White House staff, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison after a conviction for lying to federal investigators in the Valerie Plame CIA investigation.
Bush commuted Libby’s sentence before Libby had completed the appeals process, and there is no evidence that Libby had followed the Justice Department’s administrative procedures for requesting a presidential pardon in writing.
Monday, Libby’s lawyers announced Libby had decided to drop his appeal altogether.
“By refusing to pardon agents Ramos and Compean, the president has missed yet another opportunity to correct this miscarriage of justice,” Hunter said in a press release. “The fact that the drug dealer, whose [testimony] sent the agents to jail, has been indicted for running drugs across the border while serving as a federal witness necessitates a presidential pardon.”
During yesterday’s Iowa Republican debate, Tancredo said he would pardon Ramos and Compean within the first five minutes after taking office as president.