- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Democratic chairman of a House subcommittee has granted a request by the panel’s ranking Republican for a hearing to explore potential foreign influences in the U.S. government’s prosecution of two U.S. Border Patrol agents and a Texas deputy sheriff.

Rep. Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on international organizations, human rights and oversight, yesterday said he has scheduled the hearing for late April or early May to address concerns by Republicans about the prosecutions.

“I know that several members have expressed concern about these cases, and I want to address those concerns,” Mr. Delahunt told The Washington Times. “I have no information whatsoever about the authenticity of assertions made in the cases, but out of respect to them, I have decided to hold a hearing.”

Mr. Delahunt said that while the subcommittee’s jurisdiction in the matter is limited, it could and would focus on whether influences from foreign officials were used to bring the cases against the law-enforcement officials.

The request for the hearing came from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, who has questioned whether the Mexican government tried to influence U.S. officials to prosecute Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean and Edwards County, Texas, Deputy Sheriff Guillermo Hernandez.

All three law-enforcement officers were prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton in San Antonio, an ally of President Bush since his days as Texas governor. Before his appointment as U.S. attorney, Mr. Sutton served in Washington as an associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department and as a policy coordinator for the Bush transition team at Justice.

From 1995 to 2000, he was the criminal justice policy director for Mr. Bush, advising the governor on all criminal justice issues with specific oversight in the areas of criminal law, prison capacity and management, parole operations and legislative initiatives.

“I commend Chairman Delahunt for his willingness to pursue this issue,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. “This hearing will permit us to conduct an official investigation into aspects of the Ramos and Compean prosecution and other cases where a pattern of questionable foreign influence seems to exist.”

Ramos, 37, and Compean, 28, were sentenced in January to 11- and 12-year prison terms, respectively, for shooting a drug-smuggling suspect after he abandoned 743 pounds of marijuana on the border near Fabens, Texas, and fled back into Mexico. The agents said they thought the Mexican national had a weapon.

Hernandez, 25, was convicted in December for shooting at a truck loaded with illegal aliens after the driver tried to run him down. He faces sentencing Monday, when he could receive up to 10 years in federal prison. Prosecutors said he violated the civil rights of an illegal alien in the van when a metal fragment hit her in the lip as he shot out the vehicle’s rear tire.

“I hope this administration will be more forthright and cooperative than they have been thus far, considering all of our requests for information will now be a part of an official subcommittee investigation,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. “If a foreign government is having an undue influence on the decisions of our government to make concessions for illegal aliens over our law-enforcement officers, the American people have a right to know about it.”

Mr. Rohrabacher has challenged Mr. Bush to pardon the two agents, saying, “We’re going to find out whose side you’re on the American people or the side of our enemies.”

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