The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

13 February 2007

Illegal Immigration, Talk Radio, Ignacio Ramos, Jose Alonso Compean


For Wrongly Convicted Border Agents, Talkers Fight Battle

Certain that two border patrol agents have wrongly been convicted of crimes related to their duties, radio talk show hosts across the country have been fighting an ongoing battle to get them out of prison.

And for their efforts to secure the release of former agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean (shown in right image), talkers are taking a lot of heat, especially from the "open borders" crowd.

In addition, America's Most Wanted has also taken up the cause, detailing not only the grave injustice behind the convictions, but also the recent brutal beating of Ramos in prison.

Ramos and Compean were found guilty of shooting a suspected drug smuggler and are now serving lengthy sentences. From last October, here's a background piece at WorldNetDaily.

This week, as a growing movement emerges to secure their early releases, perhaps via presidential pardons, the troubling circumstances behind their imprisonment are back in the spotlight.

From Cox News Service, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Eunice Moscoso
Cox News Service

Washington - Former Border Patrol agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos have become famous in conservative circles, in a case which shows the power of talk radio and the blogosphere.

The two agents are serving prison sentences after being convicted of shooting a suspected drug smuggler and trying to cover up the incident. Many lawmakers in Washington are asking President Bush to pardon the agents, who they say were convicted wrongly for protecting the border of the United States against criminal intruders.

The agents were sentenced to 12 and 11 years in prison, respectively.

The calls for an executive pardon and a congressional investigation into the case intensified this week following reports that Ramos was assaulted in a Mississippi prison.

Rep. Tom Tancredo, Republican of Colorado, an ardent critic of illegal immigration who is pondering a run for the White House, spent about an hour with Ramos at the jail on Friday and said he had been severely beaten, with deep bruises along his arm, cuts and bruises on his chest and back, and bruises on his knees.

Ramos told the lawmaker that he had been pummeled and kicked by five or six inmates on Saturday in a planned attack while others watched after they saw him on an episode of the television show America's Most Wanted, Tancredo said. Ramos did not get medical attention until Monday and a CAT-scan showed no brain damage, the lawmaker added.

"This guy should never be walking around in an orange jumpsuit with handcuffs, he should be home with his family," Tancredo said, shortly after leaving the prison. "This is a horrible travesty."

Ramos' attorney, David L. Botsford, said that a motion is pending at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to get bail for Ramos while he plans an appeal.

A similar request was rejected by a district court, said Botsford, a prominent criminal defense attorney in Austin.

The plight of the two Border Patrol officers has become a major cause on conservative talk shows and on Web sites that promote more enforcement against illegal immigration.

The suspected drug smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, had entered the United States illegally in a van that contained more than 700 pounds of marijuana. The prosecution contends that Compean shot at him 14 times and Ramos fired once, hitting Aldrete-Davila in the buttocks as he tried to run away on foot.

The agents contend that they saw an object in Aldrete-Davila's hands that looked like a gun and that he was pointing it towards them.

Ramos and Compean were convicted a year ago on several charges including assault with a deadly weapon and intentionally defacing a crime scene.

Aldrete-Davila was given immunity in the case to testify against the agents and has filed a multi- million dollar lawsuit
against the U.S. government.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said this week that "the sentences in this case are too extreme given the criminal nature of the defendant and his possession of large quantities of drugs."

In a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, she also said that the "aggressive prosecution of Border Patrol agents has a chilling effect on their ability to carry out their duties and on the morale of all agents."

Keeping in mind the final two paragraphs above, now take a look at this new anti- Ramos and Compean hit piece by syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr:

SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- The world is upside down. A posse of Republican lawmakers who, when opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants, like to talk about how rules must be followed and how we shouldn't reward lawbreakers. They're now demanding that a pair of convicted felons be rewarded with a presidential pardon.

Ex-Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos were sentenced to 12 years and 11 years in prison, respectively, after a jury convicted them of shooting an unarmed suspect and then covering it up.

It happened on February 17, 2005. That's when Compean and Ramos encountered a suspicious van along the Texas-Mexico border.

The driver, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, abandoned the vehicle and tried to run into Mexico. Aldrete-Davila was smuggling drugs, and the van was loaded with more than 700 pounds of marijuana.

Compean fired at least 14 rounds and Ramos fired once, hitting Aldrete-Davila. The agents then collected the shell casings, failed to report the shooting, and filed reports that made no mention of the incident.

None of this is heroic, except to the anti-immigrant mob, which has been making excuses for Compean and Ramos while accusing U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton, whose office prosecuted the case, of being an agent of the Mexican government.

In recent months, the cause of Compean and Ramos has been picked up by anti-immigrant groups, congressional Republicans, Minuteman vigilantes and talk show hosts on radio and television.

Recently, Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Richard L. Skinner admitted that officials in his office "misinformed" Republican members of Congress when they claimed to have proof that Compean and Ramos confessed their guilt and said that they "wanted to shoot some Mexicans" before the incident.

But what does all this have to do with the price of whiskey in West Texas? Not a thing. It was the U.S. attorney's office, and not the Homeland Security Department, that brought this case. So, unless federal prosecutors lied to the court or defense attorneys, there is no reason for a pardon.

I've spoken to Sutton twice in the last couple of weeks, and he didn't strike me as some wild-eyed prosecutor. He insists that a lot of what is out there is "overheated rhetoric" from the ill-informed.

Much of that rhetoric belongs to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, (or as he is aptly described in this case, Dana "off-his-rocker"). The congressman has said that President Bush could be impeached if either Ramos or Compean meets his demise in prison.

Another California Republican, Rep. Duncan Hunter has drafted a congressional resolution to grant a pardon for the convicted shooters and he "personally contacted" the Federal Bureau of Prisons to ask that the former agents be segregated from the general inmate population for their safety, according to his Web site.

As his name gets dragged through the mud, you'd think that Sutton might hold a grudge. Not so.

"I have a lot of sympathy for some of the folks who are worked up because the narrative that they read is so different from the reality of what the jury heard," Sutton told me.

But what about those unsympathetic Republican hacks, Minutemen vigilantes and conservative bloggers who are using this case to further their own agendas? For Sutton, it's a reminder that there is no substitute for the American justice system. While not perfect, that system is designed to dole out justice based on facts and law, not politics.

"It's why we litigate these things in a courtroom and not on cable television or the Internet," he said.

Be glad that's so.

Obviously, Navarrette is attempting to mislead his readers into believing this is a cause only for the extreme right. Yet the Cox story quoted US Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat who has raised substantial concerns about the way Ramos and Compean have been treated by prosecutors and the justice system.

So why does Navarrette want two border patrol agents with distinguished records to rot in jail while a drug smuggler sues American taxpayers? That's one bizarre agenda.

ELSEWHERE: at SaveWRKO, we compare today's press coverage of Tommy Tune- Out's debut.

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Technorati tags:

Navarrette image: CNN, Incident scene: AMW


  • I actually think these two guys may very well have been railroaded.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 13 February, 2007 01:44  

  • Also...we THE BORDERS.

    As in wall. A la Berlin.

    Razor wire. A "DMZ"....

    And it needs to be done...yesterday.

    So border guards, drug dealers, etc. can go about their businesses IN their respective countries....without this sort of situation cropping up.

    No other solution.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 13 February, 2007 02:33  

  • They shot a guy in the back, while he was running away from them. Yeah he was a drug smuggler. But if they were cops chasing a murderer, they would still be convicted if they shot him in the back.

    And then they covered up the fact that they had fired their weapons. If they had reported they they had fired their guns, they would probably not be in any trouble.

    By Blogger qw3rty, at 13 February, 2007 03:42  

  • Read this and it should be pretty obvious why a jury voted to convict these guys. They were bad cops abusing their power, no different than Rodney King.

    By Blogger qw3rty, at 13 February, 2007 04:14  

  • By Blogger qw3rty, at 13 February, 2007 04:24  

  • It appears one of the officers admitted the "victim" had his hands up surrendering, if thats the case they broke the law. 12 years is a harsh sentence, removal from the boarder patrol should have been enough. I'm with the Savage's of the world on the principal of this issue. The hackery on the right(on the radio) is the fact that some Democrats, as indicated in the story have defended the two. I heard a rant by Levin on this, and he obscured the fact that Dems are defending the agents.

    For once Brian, you presented an objective assesment. You presented the stories and pointed out an example of hackery on the left. I agree, the second piece obscured the fact that Feinstein and Lehay are defendong the agents. I agree with you on this one.
    They broke the law, but the sentence is way too harsh.

    By Blogger Minister of Propaganda, at 13 February, 2007 09:41  

  • I guess for them to lose their jobs would be sensible, if it is determined that they used excessive force.

    My question is, was it just a bad split-second call, or was he shot out of malice?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 13 February, 2007 11:18  

  • Aldrete tried to run, he crossed a steep ditch. Compean was waiting for him at the top of the ditch, and Aldrete surrendered. Compean swung at Aldrete with the butt of his shotgun, but missed and fell to the ground. Compean started shooting at Aldrete because he was upset about falling face down in the dirt.

    Compean fired at Aldrete at least fourteen times. Ramos fired once and hit Aldrete. Compean may have just been shooting near Aldrete, trying to scare him, but won't admit that because he is covering for Ramos, or he might just be a really bad shot.

    Aldrete fell on the American side of the border. And then instead of arresting him, they left the scene of the crime. They collected the shells to destroy the evidence, and called another border patrol agent to help them find and dispose of the rest of the spent shells.

    They didn't find out he was smuggling marijuana until after the incident.

    Ramos had been arrested 2 times for domestic abuse and previously disciplined for conduct unbecoming of an officer.

    By Blogger qw3rty, at 13 February, 2007 12:58  

  • If these congressmen want these guys to get off, they should pass a law making it legal to shoot people illegally crossing the border.

    By Blogger qw3rty, at 13 February, 2007 13:00  

  • Brian Maloney - you're so falling down on the job (or someone is squashing you)...

    Why aren't you reporting on O'Reilly being dropped as the speaker at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children?

    Of course, both you and O'Reilly will spin that "haters" of O'Reilly simply do anything they can to ruin him.

    The reality, of course, is that people reported to the NCMEP what he recently said (verbatim, no lack of context, no spinning) about a kidnapping victim (a minor) to the center, and the center rightly dropped him.

    However - I know you love to suck-up to O'Reilly to get on his show, so you can't possibly report on this unless you have some good, good spin.

    The truth of the matter must be too difficult for even you to circumvent, or you'd already be all over it.

    However, it is a story regarding the media - it is a controversy - and you're spinning your wheels on imus?

    By Blogger TJ, at 13 February, 2007 13:43  

  • Closing the borders will never work... you never know where the aliens will come from next. (a little humor here)

    By Blogger bentNormal, at 13 February, 2007 14:18  

  • Surprising that the usual suspects never managed to weigh in on this issue.

    Than again, maybe not....

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 14 February, 2007 10:25  

  • Since Hash cannot wait to see what I have to say, I will indulge him. :)

    Those guys got the shaft. Something stinks on the investigators side of things, just donn't know where it exactly leads. Get em out of prison, otherwise they will be killed by the prison population. Solution: Get em out, they don't get their jobs back, try them on the covering up of the investigation, convict them if they can, and let them serve whatever sentence the Texas law determines is fit and proper.

    Close down the a fence 50 feet high...make it of concrete, rebar, whatever...hell, to stop them from putting graffiti on the wall, use that anti-graffiti wall from "Naked Gun"...the problem that I have with this, that I have not seen or heard discussed anywhere is how to keep the ones from tunnelling underneath. If that has been discussed anywhere, let me know. I am interested in ideas on how to stop the Mexicans from tunnelling in the U.S.

    By Blogger Stacy, at 14 February, 2007 17:59  

  • I probably don't need to say this, but qw3rty did a real good job of presenting the prosecutor's side of the issue.

    One problem: a few of the statements that prosecutor has made have later turned out to be a bit questionable, and some people from the DHS even lied to Congress about this.

    If you want to see the other side of this story, check out the endless series at

    And, regarding AAR, here's an AlFranken tribute video I made based on his announcement today.

    By Blogger LonewackoDotCom, at 14 February, 2007 19:16  

  • I think it's a great idea to inoculate (vaccinate) all criminal trespassers into our country by a good pistol shot into their behind's! That will get their attention and keep them where they belong!

    By Blogger UScitizen, at 19 February, 2007 18:41  

  • I think it's a great idea to inoculate (vaccinate) all criminal trespassers into our country by a good pistol shot into their behind's! That will get their attention and keep them where they belong!

    By Blogger UScitizen, at 19 February, 2007 18:42  

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