A Justice System in Name Only

Very rarely do you see conservatives rally around convicted criminals demanding they be set free.  That’s part of what makes the case of Border Patrol agents Ingacio Ramos and José Compean so special.  That, along with the fact that so many people who should be behind bars are free while the two agents are in prison for essentially doing their jobs.

Ramos and Compean made the mistake of shooting a Mexican drug smuggler named Osvaldo Aldrete Davila in the butt as he was trying to get away.  Good for them, you might say, but U.S. Attorney and Bush-buddy Johnny Sutton threw the book at them.  Sutton won’t back down, President Bush is indifferent to the case, and even the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against the agents.

Justice System?  How do they call it that?

Sandy Berger isn’t doing time.  The former national security advisor to Bill Clinton pleaded guilty to unauthorized removal of classified documents from the National Archives.   Berger was fined $50,000, given two years of probation, and was stripped of his national security clearance for three years. 

Nobody is doing time for damaging our national security by leaking a whole bunch of top-secret information.  Like the National Security Agency’s Terrorist Surveillance Program (spare me the e-mails: it was and is legal), the cooperation by the Belgian “SWIFT” consortium in helping trace terrorist financing and the secret CIA terrorist jails overseas.  The people who leaked those programs’ existence should be doing hard time.

William Jefferson isn’t doing time.  The Louisiana congressman was indicted last year on 16 charges relating to corruption.  The FBI found $90,000 in cash, wrapped in aluminum foil and stuffed in the freezer –allegedly part of  $400,000 in bribes.  Jefferson continues to serve in the Congress.

Chuck Schumer isn’t doing time.  The New York senator made public a letter that he had sent to bank regulators about the solvency of IndyMac Bank in California.  Over the next eleven days, depositors withdrew $1.3 billion.  John Reich, the director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, charged that Schumer gave the bank “a heart attack.”  Congress declined to investigate Schumer’s tampering.

John Murtha isn’t doing time.  The Pennsylvania congressman and pork king came close to indictment in the 1980’s in the Abscam investigation.  He was offered a $50,000 bribe as a hidden camera taped the proceedings.   He responded, "I’m not interested… at this point. [If] we do business for a while, maybe I’ll be interested, maybe I won’t." 

Bill and Hillary Clinton aren’t doing time.  Bill Clinton was impeached on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice arising from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.  Not a single Democrat in the Senate voted to convict.  While still in Arkansas, Mrs. Clinton managed to turn a $1,000 investment into a $100,000 bonanza in cattle futures.  In spite of the virtual impossibility of that happening in a legal manner, she was never investigated.

So who IS doing time?  A few former members of our government – mostly Republicans or Democrats who fell out of favor.  Ohio Congressman Bob Ney got 30 months in the Abramoff lobbying scandal.  California Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham got eight years for bribery, mail fraud and tax evasion.  On the Democratic side, Jim Taficant, a congressman from Ohio, got eight years for crimes ranging from taking bribes to racketeering.  Then, there’s Illinois Congressman Dan Rostenkowsi who served fifteen months in the House Post Office Scandal – then got a pardon from President Clinton. 

There’s more, but you get the point.  A member of Congress or a highly placed political appointee virtually has to be caught holding a smoking gun on live TV in order to do time.  And even then, if you know the President, you still might be OK.

Agents Ramos and Compean don’t know the President.  And for reasons unknown to those of us who believe they were railroaded by a rogue U.S. Attorney, the President seems to care little about them or their families.  Even if the agents overreacted when they shot at the drug smuggler – and that’s subject to dispute – the President must realize that the Mexican border region is a war zone infested with hardened drug criminals for whom killing is a way of life.

Mr. President – do your duty and free these two agents.  It’s time to restore some “justice” to our Justice System.