At least eight times Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, raised the issue of a pardon or commutation for U.S. Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos at presidential news briefings, and eight times there was a “no comment” or an equivalent.
At one point, the late presidential spokesman Tony Snow called the question from Kinsolving “nonsensical.”
But in the end, the issue did get the attention of President Bush, who released a list of commutations today that included the two agents, who were sent to prison for shooting at a drug smuggler who fleeing back to Mexico after dropping more than 750 pounds of drugs inside the U.S.
“Free at last. Free at last. Thanks God Almighty, they’re free at last!” wrote WND founder and editor Joseph Farah in his daily column on the action that follow his campaign to raise awareness of the plight of the agents and to urge government officials to take action.
Ramos embraces her husband, former U.S. Border Patrol agent Ignacio
Ramos, two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison (Courtesy
El Paso Times)
“Thank God for this commutation,” said Farah after his petition and letter-writing campaign re-energized the Ramos-Compean issue in the last 30 days of Bush’s term.
“This will end the sleepless nights for their wives and children. This is the first step toward making these families whole, again,” he said.
Farah’s petition collected more than 40,000 signatures by the time today’s commutation announcement was made, and the letter campaign produced more than 3,000 FedEx letters to the White House.
The letter described how the agents were “serving outrageously long prison terms for shooting and wounding, in the line of duty, a fleeing illegal alien drug smuggler trying to bring almost 800 pounds of marijuana into the U.S.”
The smuggler was granted immunity for his illegal activities in return for testifying against the agents. After the trial, it was revealed he participated in another drug run into the U.S. while under immunity.
The law under which the agents were ordered to serve minimum 10-year sentences for using a firearm in the commission of a crime never had been applied to law enforcement officers.
The letter also noted several jurors complained they had been intimidated into voting “guilty” although they believed the men were innocent, yet the trial judge refused to set aside the verdict.
Among other factors raising public concern was the prosecutor’s statement that the sentences were too harsh.
In his new column, Farah said the continued incarceration of the agents “represented nothing less than a human rights abuse – a miscarriage of justice perpetrated at the highest levels of our government.”
Thus, the petition drive and the letter-writing campaign he launched.
“A month ago, as President Bush’s term began running out, and as he began issuing pardons to other less worthy individuals, I decided something had to be done for Ramos and Compean,” Farah wrote.
“When I thought about their case, I was gripped with a passionate rage. When I thought about those men suffering in their private little hell, I couldn’t sleep at night. When I thought about their wives and children, I would get short of breath. When I thought about what their fate said about justice in America, tears would fill my eyes.
So I decided to launch a petition to free Ramos and Compean.
“In less than a month, we were able to get more than 40,000 people to sign the petition to release Ramos and Compean,” he continued. “With time running out, we decided the best way to direct urgent communications to the White House was through overnight courier. We were able to get thousands of WND readers to send those letters by FedEx – a campaign that ended late last week.
“I don’t know how much of a role that campaign played in influencing the White House, but I am certain that the prayers and expressions of support of Americans for Ramos and Compean made a difference,” he said.