- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2008

U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton’s attack on your editorial “Pardon Ramos and Compean” of May 15 actually makes the case for a pardon for Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean based on Mr. Sutton’s obstruction of justice and other misconduct (“Justice was served to Ramos, Compean,” Letters, yesterday). Necessarily, he invokes the lofty principle that a jury determines the credibility of witnesses and that, in this case, the jurors believed the drug smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila. That, however, is precisely the point. Would they have done so if they had known that Aldrete-Davila had been caught smuggling again between the date of the shooting and the trial and, further, that his continuation of criminality was in direct violation of his sworn promises under the immunity granted to him?

This is brushed aside in Mr. Sutton’s letter when he notes that Aldrete-Davila has been “held accountable” for his repeat crimes, to which he has pleaded guilty under a plea bargain. Disturbingly, however, this U.S. attorney evades the crucial facts that the formal arrest, charging and guilty plea as to the repeat offense and violation of immunity were delayed beyond the agents’ trial and thus could not be used in their defense, which depended on attacking Aldrete-Davila’s credibility. The pit also deepens because Aldrete-Davila’s subsequent crime and violation of his immunity should have rendered his immunity invalid, and it is highly doubtful that he would have testified or could have been compelled to testify in the Ramos-Compean trial. The rearrest of this known smuggler also would have made it a bit tacky for Mr. Sutton to justify having given Aldrete-Davila immunity not only from prosecution for any crime in connection with the first arrest/shooting - which is usual to obtain the criminal’s testimony - but also immunity for a practicing drug smuggler to travel freely - and otherwise illegally - back and forth across the border. In short, even if Aldrete-Davila would have been available for Mr. Sutton’s use (under a second immunity?) one can understand the disastrous effect on Aldrete-Davila’s credibility caused by the admission that he had been rearrested and had pleaded guilty to smuggling another 750 pounds of pot in violation of a solemn oath not to do so just before coming to court and swearing to the jury that this time he really was telling the truth. Without delaying the rearrest and immunity violation to keep Aldrete-Davila’s record falsely clean, Mr. Sutton had no case. He should be “held accountable,” and, as you said, Ramos and Compean should be pardoned.

WILLIAM J. O’BRIEN II

Falls Church