- The Washington Times - Monday, June 2, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In the military, an old adage says there are “always 10 percent who don’t get the word,” and in this case maybe less. Sgt. Steven Pryor, in his Friday letter, “Unprofessional president,” didn’t get the memo that says “slow down, relax, chill” - it’s OK if the president, as commander in chief, shares a chest bump or a blown kiss with graduates of the U.S. Air Force Academy to help celebrate their graduation following four years of rigorous academic, military and physical training.

Also remember, this was President Bush participating in the cadets’ graduation ceremony from college. The already-second lieutenants were commissioned in earlier ceremonies.

This short letter can’t tell you all the expressions of happiness, excitement and celebration publicly displayed when my class crossed the same stage 30 years ago. Though we did not have the president join us for our graduation ceremonies, I most gladly would have shared a “chest bump” with the commander in chief to help send me off on the start of my Air Force career.

COL. CHRIS J. KRISINGER

Air Force (retired)

Burke

This bloated monster, the so-called farm bill, HR 2419, recently emerged from conference, secured the endorsement of the House and Senate, and waddled over to the White House, where the president had promised to put it out of its misery. “An Act to provide for the continuation of agricultural programs through fiscal year 2012” will bleed us of about $600 billion over 10 years. I would much rather be robbed by someone honest enough to stick a gun in my ribs. A few critics, including Sens. Judd Gregg, New Hampshire Republican, and Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, rejected the bill as a waste of taxpayers’ money. A majority on both sides of the aisle, however, voted to override the president’s veto.

Two-thirds of the farm bill goes to public nutrition programs, but the heart and soul of the bill remains commodity price supports. Peanuts, milk, sugar, ethanol, corn, soybeans, racehorses - you name it - all get propped up at our expense. These are not subsidies skillfully crafted by those wise in the ways of agriculture and markets - it’s haphazard meddling and horse trading. It’s not hard to figure out who mostly benefits from this largess - not the poor, who probably could afford to feed themselves without food stamps but for the government’s clumsy intervention. One of my favorites is a provision that allows the government to buy excess American-grown sugar to produce ethanol lest an influx of cheaper Mexican sugar drive down the price. Of course, the ethanol subsidies are still there, snatching corn from hungry mouths. This legislation is the epitome of feeding (literally) at the public trough.

There is something surreal about crop subsidies and food stamps being juxtaposed in the same bill. We have the fact of clumsy meddling and the unfortunate consequence of it all displayed conveniently in the same piece of legislation.

Coincidentally, it appears that Congress will have to raise the debt limit again this year despite the embarrassment of having to do so in the midst of a presidential election. At this point, it looks as if at least $385 billion will be required on top of the last increase of $850 billion. The statutory cap presently stands at $9.81 trillion, so it looks as if we are going comfortably over the $10 trillion mark.

DON GROVE

Silver Spring

After reading the one-sided version of events that U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton’s office relied upon to prosecute Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, it is easy to see how a jury could have been misled into convicting them (“Justice was served to Ramos, Compean,” Letters, May 21). In addition to cleverly weaving those half-truths and outright lies into the government’s case, his subordinates prevented the jury from hearing evidence that would have demolished the credibility of their key witness.

They knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila was responsible for smuggling another 752 pounds of marijuana into the United States while the two innocent Border Patrol agents awaited trial. Compounding their complicity is the fact that at the time he committed that felony, Aldrete-Davila was in possession of a parole visa issued at their request for “significant public benefit.” If the jurors had been privy to that information, they never would have believed his ludicrous claim that he was a first-time offender who was simply trying to earn $1,000 to pay off his ailing mother’s medical bills, nor his preposterous denial that he was armed while transporting 743 pounds of marijuana worth more than $1 million.

Public confidence in our system of justice hinges upon the integrity of those who are tasked with its administration. When unscrupulous prosecutors abuse their authority, it destroys this trust and raises serious questions about the legitimacy of the entire process.

The release of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean cannot happen soon enough. However, that will only be the first step toward justice in this case. Both of those heroes also deserve a sincere personal apology from the president of the United States, along with full restitution and the payment of substantial damages for their unjustified ordeal.

Additionally, in order to restore public faith in our legal system, those who are responsible for this travesty must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. After he secured the conviction of Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean, Mr. Sutton boasted that “no one is above the law.” As long as that rule is not applied to him, this blight on our system of justice will continue to fester.

T.J. BONNER

President

National Border Patrol Council

Campo, Calif.

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