Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Homeland Security to force the handover to Congress of investigative documents the agency claims will support their accusation of criminal behavior by imprisoned former Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.
In a telephone interview with WND, Poe explained the extraordinary procedure was necessary after DHS refused to furnish the reports to Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, arguing McCaul’s chairmanship of the Investigations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Homeland Security had passed to the Democrats.
The decision by Poe to file a FOIA request with DHS reflects increasing congressional concern the agency is conducting a cover-up of the Ramos-Compean investigation. Congressmen say the agency has continued to stonewall repeated requests to obtain promised investigative documents relevant to congressional oversight responsibilities.
WND reported yesterday McCaul held a meeting Sept. 26 with deputies of the DHS Inspector General’s office in which the deputies made accusations of criminal misconduct against the Border Patrol agents. In attendance at the meeting were Poe and fellow Texas congressmen John Culberson and Kenny Marchant.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the DHS inspector general told the Texas congressmen the relevant investigative reports would be released the first day after the Oct. 23, 2006, sentencing of the agents. So far, however, DHS has refused to release the promised reports, despite repeated requests from McCaul.
“I was at that meeting,” Poe told WND. “We had the office of the DHS inspector general and the Department of Justice (DOJ) there. They made allegations that these two Border Patrol agents had made incriminating statements that DHS and DOJ had in their possession. We were told we would be given these statements to contradict what the agents had been telling us.”
Poe explained that Ramos and Compean had told the congressman the fleeing drug smuggling suspect they were chasing was armed and that they suspected he was a drug dealer because of his behavior, including driving a van across a border road the agents knew was used by drug smugglers, and running away to avoid arrest.
“We supported Congressman McCaul’s attempts to get these reports,” Poe explained to WND. “But when after January 1, 2007, DHS told Congressman McCaul that they could no longer hand over the information to him because he was no longer subcommittee chairman, I decided to file the FOIA request to get the documents.”
Poe said he has been frustrated by DHS stonewalling.
“Why didn’t the DHS inspector general come to the September 26, 2006, meeting prepared to give us the information?” he asked. “Even a Xerox machine in the Justice Department should be able to work once in four months to make a copy of those statements.”
Poe said he found the lack of candor “disturbing.”
And he wondered since so many resources were available from the federal government to the prosecution, why not share that information with Congress.
“So, we’re not through yet,” he said.
Poe expressed concern that he is not sure the jury in the Ramos and Compean case got all the information the government had concerning the relevant facts of the case.
“When the government does backroom deals with criminals, like this habitual drug offender from Mexico, the public, and especially the defendants, have an absolute right to know what the deal was and how it came about,” he said. “Maybe the jury heard it, and maybe the jury didn’t hear it, but we will find out.”
Many of the factual aspects of the case are now being disputed by investigators, including the ballistics investigation into the weapons fired and the round subsequently extracted from the left buttocks and right groin of the drug smuggler by a U.S. Army doctor.
“For all we know,” Poe commented, “the drug smuggler seemed to be pointing back at the Border Patrol agents with what could have been something in his hand based on the ballistics reports I am seeing. U.S. Attorney (Johnny) Sutton says the guy was shot in the buttocks. Well, now we find out that that isn’t exactly accurate. The guy was shot from ‘cheek-to-cheek,’ or maybe from the side of his left buttocks to his right groin. There’s a big difference in those two statements. You don’t have to be a ballistics expert to understand that the body was turned if the bullet went from one cheek to the other cheek, or from the left cheek to the right groin.”
Poe repeated that his office was determined to get to the bottom of these investigative questions.
“In the big scheme of things, let’s assume that the Border Patrol agents violated policy. Assume they didn’t file a report even though the law says that they were only required to file an oral report to the supervisor,” he asked. “There was no requirement in this instance that they file a written report. Okay, let’s discipline the Border Patrol agents, you bet. Let’s give them three-day’s suspension like the rules call for.”
Poe questioned the judgment of U.S. Attorney Sutton, asking “why does the federal government here have a choice to prosecute a guy bringing in a million dollars worth of drugs or prosecute Border Patrol agents who were doing their job, yet the government chose to prosecute the Border Patrol?
“Why is the federal government spending so many federal taxpayer resources prosecuting federal Border Patrol agents trying to stop drug smugglers, especially when it means making deals with drug offenders?” he continued. “That’s the bigger question in my mind.
Poe agreed the prosecution would put a chilling effect on other Border Patrol agents.
“That’s a war zone on the Texas-Mexico border,” he said. “It’s an undeclared war that’s taking place. You have aggressive Border Patrol agents like Ramos and Compean, who are protecting the country, and yet they are vilified and prosecuted by our own government. The next time you have a similar situation with a different Border Patrol agent, the Border Patrol agent will hesitate before they put their life or their career in danger.”
Poe called the Ramos and Compean case “the best news drug dealers have ever heard.”
Drug smugglers now know, he explained, “that Border Patrol agents may be reluctant to chase them. So all they have to do is run. If another drug smuggler sees a Border Patrol agent, all they have to do is what this drug dealer did – namely, run. Drive, run, just get away. Drug dealers are going to know that federal Border Patrol agents are going to be more reluctant to pursue them because the federal government, for some reason, takes the wrong side of the border war.”
In an exclusive Jan.19 interview, Sutton told WND Ramos and Compean’s crimes involved “shooting 15 times at an unarmed, fleeing man.”
For Sutton, the agents compounded the offense by engaging in a cover-up: “And instead of doing what every other agent does, namely to explain why they decided to use deadly force, these two agents instead decided to lie about it, cover it up, destroy the evidence, pick up all the shell casings and throw them away where we couldn’t find them, destroy the crime scene and then file a false report.”
The drug smuggler, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, was given immunity by federal prosecutor Sutton, and was the star witness at the trial of the agents.
Aldrete-Davila has retained a U.S. attorney and now is in the process of preparing to sue the U.S. Border Patrol for $5 million, claiming his civil rights were violated by the agents’ criminal behavior of shooting at him as he abandoned a van containing 743 pounds of marijuana and fled from the scene.