The two former U.S. Border Patrol agents who were sentenced to prison terms of more than a decade each for shooting at a drug smuggler who dumped a load in the United States, then fled on foot back into Mexico rather than be arrested, must ask if they want clemency in their cases, according to the White House.

“There is a process under which anyone can apply for a pardon or a commutation. And if they want to take advantage of that process, they’re absolutely welcome to,” Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman, told WND today.

She was responding to a question from Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, about the case involving Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean. It has been a subject of dispute among border control advocates ever since the two were arrested.

They were convicted in their trial on the testimony of Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, who was given a grant of immunity from prosecution for his crimes and testified how he was shot and injured by the officers who were trying to arrest him.

“Now that Mr. Aldrete-Davila, the drug smuggler in the Ramos-Compean case, has admitted running drugs and conspiracy, will the president review his decision against a pardon, commutation or other clemency for the two Border Patrol agents jailed for shooting at this drug smuggler as he fled back into Mexico after abandoning a load of drugs in the United States?” Kinsolving asked.

Perino said she would “encourage anyone to look at the facts in the case as laid out by the attorney general – by the county – district attorney – I’m sorry, the U.S. attorney in that area.”

The U.S. attorney in question, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, has been described by President Bush as a “dear friend.”

Aldrete-Davila recently pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance, conspiracy to import a controlled substance and conspiracy to distribute. The marijuana he admitted smuggling into the U.S. came after he testified against Ramos and Compean under a grant of immunity from Sutton.

Former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos embraced his wife, Monica Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (El Paso Times)

Mychal Massie, the chief of the nonprofit and nonpartisan Project 21 and a columnist for WND, earlier renewed his call to President Bush to pardon the agents.

The call from Massie, whose Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community for nearly two decades, followed Aldrete-Davila’s guilty plea in U.S. District Court in El Paso, Texas. He is to be sentenced in July.

Compean and Ramos are serving prison terms for shooting at the smuggler while he was running back to Mexico in 2005, Massie’s statement noted.

“It is time to prove that he [Bush] places the welfare of American communities and those men and women who risk their lives to protect them over the welfare of lying illicit drug smugglers,” Massie said. “Pardon Ramos and Compean now, Mr. President!”

“It cannot be overstated that President Bush’s stolid indifference thus far toward the suffering of these brave protectors of our borders and their families, while simultaneously seeking special dispensation for illegal immigrants, is unconscionable,” Massie said. “Now it appears that the burden to be borne by agents Ramos and Compean for unknowingly wounding a now admitted drug criminal as he fled from justice across the border is going to be greater than that to be borne by the criminal himself.”

On Feb. 17, 2005, Ramos and Compean pursued Aldrete-Davila on foot after Aldrete-Davila abandoned a van containing 743 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $1 million. During the chase, Ramos shot at Aldrete-Davila in the belief that Aldrete-Davila had drawn a gun of his own. Aldrete-Davila escaped across the U.S.-Mexico border, and Ramos assumed Aldrete-Davila was unhurt. In fact, Aldrete-Davila had been shot in the buttock.

Sutton later charged that Ramos and Compean violated Border Patrol policy by pursuing Aldrete-Davila without supervisor approval, moving spent shell casings and improperly reporting the fired shots. Aldrete-Davila was granted immunity to testify against the agents. Ramos and Compean currently are in solitary confinement in maximum-security prisons.

Their cases are on appeal before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Ramos and Compean convictions have been questioned by many who point out that during the trial, jurors were not told of Aldrete-Davila’s continued drug trafficking, and jurors also were unaware that a fellow agent who testified against Ramos and Compean is a life-long friend of Aldrete-Davila – a violation of Border Patrol policy in itself.

T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a labor union, testified before the U.S. Senate that a medical examination of Aldrete-Davila supported the agents’ description of events and complied with Border Patrol and Justice Department policies.

In a second question, Kinsolving challenged the White House refusal to comment on even significant issues if they in any way touch on issues of the 2008 presidential campaign.

“Yesterday, in The Washington Post, there was a page one story, plus an editorial, plus three different columns, and this morning another page one story…” he started.

“But who’s counting?” added Perino.

“…all reporting the National Press Club statements of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. And my question: Since the president has undoubtedly seen these and lots of other media coverage of it, you surely won’t evade my question as to what he thought … of the Rev. Mr. Wright’s presentation, will you?” he asked.

“I surely will,” she said.


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