Useful Bipartisanship in Border Patrol Agent's Case

It’s a sad thing to behold when it falls to a liberal Democrat to call upon a Republican president to do the right thing. The cynic in me wants to believe that U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), one of the most liberal members of the United States Senate, rarely gets anything right and must therefore be investigating the unjust incarceration of U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacios Ramos and Jose Compean strictly for political reasons. The optimist in me thinks this may be a case of useful bipartisanship.

A few lonely conservative voices have been pleading for presidential intervention for Ramos and Compean ever since their plight became public. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), have been calling for a pardon, or at least a commutation of sentence as was given to Scooter Libby. Unfortunately, the president’s blind spot over the border issue has made it impossible for that message to get through.
President Bush regularly sends poor, sickly Tony Snow out to defend an immigration policy Snow would never have supported had he remained on his radio talk show rather than becoming White House press secretary. Unfortunately, the president also has given Snow the task of trying to sell the idea that justice was done in the Ramos-Compean case.
In case you get your news from the so-called mainstream media, which has been reluctant to report on this travesty of justice, you may not know that these two Border Patrol agents were convicted and sentenced to 11 and 12 year prison sentences on the dubious testimony of a Mexican drug smuggler.

Ramos and Compean were on duty along the Rio Grande in Texas when Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila entered the U.S. illegally, smuggling in 742 pounds of marijuana. When he tried to flee back across the river into Mexico, the two agents attempted to stop him. According to them, Aldrete-Davila brandished a gun. Ramos and Compean discharged their weapons at the suspect, but when he continued to flee, they logically assumed he had not been injured.

Two weeks later, Aldrete-Davila was back in the United States, where he was given full immunity to testify against Ramos and Compean for shooting him in the buttocks. Of course, at trial and afterward, U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton claimed the poor drug smuggler had been “shot in the back.” Sutton continues to spin this line in a vain attempt to sell this wrongful prosecution. Of course, the trial was paid for by American taxpayers.

Meanwhile, agents Ramos and Compean remain in prison for violation of firearms laws and for shooting a supposedly unarmed man. They are in constant danger from people they have put in prison. Ramos has been attacked by Latino gang members in his cell in Yazoo City Federal Correctional Complex in Mississippi.

Admiration is due Rohrabacher and Cornyn and a handful of other Republicans. Rohrabacher said he is pleased Feinstein is taking action, but that he finds it ironic that a “liberal Democrat” would do more than some “squishy Republican senators.”

“I was gratified and just overwhelmed with admiration for Sen. Feinstein,” Rohrabacher continued, “that she definitely is taking this issue seriously and decided she is going to step up and fight for these little guys that are being squashed.”

Normally, I am not a fan of bipartisanship. I believe that too often it results in compromises that undermine conservative principles in favor of radical, nanny-state legislation that ultimately is detrimental to the republic. McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform comes to mind, as does Ted Kennedy’s “No Child Left Behind” education bill and the recent, ill-conceived immigration reform bill.

In the case of seeking justice for Ignacios Ramos and Jose Compean, the cooperation of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats is necessary to persuade a recalcitrant president of the need for intervention. This may be the best example of productive bipartisanship we have witnessed in a long time.