- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It’s both baffling and disappointing that President Bush has not already pardoned two U.S. Border Patrol agents imprisoned since 2007 for wounding a fleeing illegal alien who entered the United States in a van with 743 pounds of marijuana. Time is running out for Mr. Bush to act to correct what one congressman calls “the worst miscarriage of justice that I have witnessed in the 30 years I’ve been in Washington.”

Agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos (who the previous year was nominated to be Border Patrol Agent of the Year) were sentenced in 2006 to 12 and 11 years in prison, respectively, for assault with a deadly weapon, obstruction of justice for failing to properly report the incident, and a civil-rights violation. They were re-sentenced last week to roughly the same time by a federal judge in El Paso.They had been arrested in the shooting in the buttocks of Mexican national Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, who had scuffled with the officers and tried to flee back across the border, continuing to flee after the shooting. The agents said they saw Mr. Aldrete-Davila with a shiny object they thought was a gun.

Even allowing for the fact it is illegal for federal agents to fire upon fleeing felons or suspects (and that should be investigated) and the questionable “we thought he had a gun” argument, the sentences were outrageous. As a side note, Mr. Aldrete-Davila was again caught smuggling marijuana while he was waiting to testify against the agents. Also, Mr. Ramos was severely beaten while in prison by a gang of illegal immigrants, and he and Mr. Compean had to be put in solitary confinement for their own protection.

Enough already. A number of convicted killers and other heinous felons have received lighter sentences than these border agents. Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, has long led the fight for a full pardon for the two agents. Mr. Tancredo wrote President-elect Barack Obama recently: “These are the kinds of men whose government failed and destroyed them - all while they were serving a cause greater than themselves. These men deserve justice. I, and many other members of Congress, have repeatedly called upon President Bush to exercise his power to pardon - but he has not done so.”

If Mr. Bush continues to cloud his lagging legacy with blindness such as this, and fails to act, President Obama early in his term can show the compassion and common sense his predecessor lacked.

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