On the dark side for fans of equal justice, President Bush granted an 11th hour clemency for two ex-federal border agents who shot an unarmed Mexican drug dealer, destroyed evidence, covered up a crime scene and filed false reports about what happened. On the bright side, a senior White House official indicated it would be Bush's final act of clemency so ex-Orange County Sheriff's Mike Carona's felony conviction should stick. At least through the appeal.
Carona and former U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean are in tight with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who told the Register last week he would not have supported the rascally sheriff -- even through his scorching grand jury indictment -- had he known what he knows now about the supposed conservative Republican Christian's infidelities. After all, Dana's got standards!
As the top of Rohrabacher's congressional home page shows, the Surfin' Republican Congressman of Surf City applauds Bush's 11th hour commutation of the Ramos and Compean prison sentences. "Our prayers have been answered! This is not just a day of celebration for the families but it is a victory for all Americans, while acknowledging our system is flawed, to see that if they are involved, if they speak up and utilize their freedom, injustices can be corrected. The hearts of all patriotic Americans are filled with joy at the announcement that our brave border defenders, Ramos and Compean, will be freed from unjust captivity.
"We are grateful at long last that President Bush has done the right thing by these men and their families and the president should be included be in our prayers of gratitude. I am humbled by the sincerity of support I saw over the last two and half years for Ramos and Compean from both sides of the political aisle and everyday Americans throughout our country."
Ramos and Compean were sentenced to more than a decade in prison for shooting and seriously wounding a Mexican drug dealer in Texas in 2005. United States Attorney Johnny Sutton, the lead prosecutor in the case, has previously said the agents deserved the prison time. "It is shocking that there are people who believe it is okay for agents to shoot an unarmed suspect who is running away," Sutton said.
Among the loudest of those people was Rohrabacher, the ultra right-wing NewsMax.com reports in its clemency post, "Rohrabacher Went to the Mat for Jailed Agents":
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"Rohrabacher was a busy activist for the two men right up to the bitter end," writes NewsMaxipad Dave Eberhart, who cites the congressman joining Ramos' father-in-law, Joe Loya, in leading a rally for the ex-agents in front of Rohrabacher's Huntington Beach office this past Saturday. Three days earlier, Rohrabacher held the final of several press conferences he's organized demanding the ex-agents' release.
At most of these microphone orgies, Rohrabacher has been openly scornful of Sutton. However, with time ticking down last week, he pleaded for the prosecutor to come on over to his side and publicly support commutation of the convicts' sentences.
"Mr. Sutton, we are asking you to look into your heart as a prosecutor and advise the President to commute the sentences of Ramos and Compean so they will not spend the next ten years in solitary confinement," said Rohrabacher. "As Johnny Sutton has said in his own words, this punishment is excessive. Millions of Americans, Members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats have spoken...the time is short, Mr. Sutton. Time is short Mr. President. Let's right the wrong."
He got his wish for them. Sheriff Mike? Go pound sand.