"Compean and Ramos are Bad Guys."


National Review's Andrew McCarthy has absolutely the harshest take on the case of Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos, border agents who shot a drug smuggler and whose "wrongful" imprisonment has become a cause celebre for immigration hawks. To wit:

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, called it "the worst betrayal of American defenders I have ever seen." Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, introduced legislation calling for a congressional pardon. Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, described the case as a "grotesque misdirection of our judicial system."

Petitions with more than 260,000 signatures have been presented to President Bush calling for a pardon. Seventy members of Congress are co-sponsors of Mr. Hunter's bill.

That's the mainstream conservative opinion on the border agents. Here's McCarthy's.

Once Aldrete-Davila was down from Ramos's shot to the backside, they decided, for a second time, not to grab him so he could face justice for his crimes. As they well knew, an arrest at that point — after 15 shots at a fleeing, unarmed man who had tried to surrender — would have shone a spotlight on their performance. So instead, they exacerbated the already shameful display.

Instead of arresting the wounded smuggler, they put their guns away and left him behind. But not before trying to conceal the improper discharge of their firearms. Compean picked up and hid his shell-casings rather than leaving the scene intact for investigators. Both agents filed false reports, failing to record the firing of their weapons though they were well aware of regulations requiring that they do so. Because the "heroes" put covering their tracks ahead of doing their duty, Aldrete-Davila was eventually able to limp off to a waiting car and escape into Mexico.

The whole thing's worth a read, especially if you keep seeing a blowhard congressmen or two showing up on Lou Dobbs or Fox and want to know whether there's any meat to this.

NEXT: Philosopher Kings vs. Milton Friedman

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  1. “the worst betrayal of American defenders I have ever seen.”


    being of white trash extraction, I can’t help but imagine what the smugglers’ take on this drill was

    mule hauling a bunch of pot into the USA

    pulled over by the law

    runs away

    hail of bullets

    ass shot

    no arrest

    instead, the cops are busy trying to sanitize the scene, while the mule limps off back to Mexico

    a free man with an “American defenders'” bullet in his ass

    bet his cronies heard his story and figured he was making shit up

    “where’s the weed, bitch?”

  2. Interesting article, but there is one common conflation in it that bothers me. He takes the notion of drug smuggling and uses it in the end to argue against illegal immigration, as if the one was part of the other.

  3. “Cops are peace officers; absent life-and-death exigencies, they are not judge, jury and executioner. Not in big cities like New York. Not in rural middle America. And not on the border. As Sutton put it when I spoke with him, a big part of what separates us from many countries in the world is that “in America, the cops are the good guys.””

    That’s what I used to think.

    ps- at least I know the difference between a “fuselage” and a “fusillade.”

  4. Not only did they shoot at the guy, they threw an airplane at him:

    “unleashed an incompetent fuselage”

  5. He basically argues that these guys should only be fired, but criminal charges are necessary to reduce the amount of paperwork. He then blames the cops for the “extremely harsh” sentences because they declined plea bargains. This is supposed to convince people that the border agents are rightfully imprisoned?

  6. If you shoot an unarmed, fleeing suspect, then pick up the shell casings and try to cover up the crime, why would you reject a plea deal? If you know that you are guilty, it takes a lot of hubris to think you’ll skate.

    More importantly, I looked through Harvey Mansfield’s book Manliness and, for the life of me, could not find the chapter on shooting unarmed men in the back.

  7. If you shoot an unarmed, fleeing suspect, then pick up the shell casings and try to cover up the crime, why would you reject a plea deal? If you know that you are guilty, it takes a lot of hubris to think you’ll skate.

    Seriously. In fact, they’d probably have skated if they hadn’t done a cover up. Juries will grant a lawman plenty of leeway if he just claims he ‘thought’ he saw a gun, and acts from the get-go that he’s confident he did the right thing. But if you go picking up the bullet casings and slink off pretending nothing happened, then you already think you’re guilty. Why shouldn’t a prosecutor and a jury agree with you?

  8. I was wondering why you guys hadn’t looked at this before (maybe I missed it), it has been a hot news item for quite a while. These guys have a lot of popular support.

    I hadn’t heard the cover up mentioned before this but I assume that is why the US Attorney was hot to prosecute these guys.

    Also worth noting that they were not permitted to remain free on bail pending the appeal.

  9. Once again, David Weigel sets my mind at ease, and has completely answered all the nagging questions raised by reporter SaraCarter. I don’t need to worry about the doctor who examined the drug smuggler and who said he wasn’t shot in the back. In fact, he was shot in the buttocks with a trajectory consistent with him pointing his left arm backwards. And, he’s left-handed. DO NOT think that through.

    Be like Dave Weigel! Don’t think through the sealed evidence. Don’t worry about those supposedly on our side who knew the drug dealer. Don’t worry about whether this prosecution is an attempt by the Bush administration to send a message to the BP.

    We don’t need to worry about those things, because Reason has set all our minds at ease. Thanks!

  10. His arm went back and to the left.

    Back, and to the left.


    And to the left.

  11. TLB:

    The buttocks is your back. But even if they had a slight side angle, how does that change the fact that they shot a fleeing and unarmed man, then left him for dead? Can we at least agree that they weren’t erring on the side of life?

  12. “Can we at least agree that they weren’t erring on the side of life?”

    Can we at least agree that there are two versions of the story and only one was fairly presented here?

    Can we at least also agree that “joe” has WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much time on his hands to be able to continue his prodigious output of trollitude? He’s everywhere, ruining every single thread he can get his hands on.

  13. “Can we at least agree that there are two versions of the story and only one was fairly presented here?”

    Sure, as soon as you admit that those agents tried to cover something up and lied to their bosses. Any concessions about what may have happened has to start with that.

  14. If it were legal to import and sell marijuana in the United States, this tragedy could have been avoided.

  15. And arent all these Republican Congressmen who support shooting Mescans supposedly “libertarian”?

  16. Lamar: where exactly do you get the idea that they “left him for dead”? McCarthy says: “they put their guns away and left him behind… Aldrete-Davila was eventually able to limp off to a waiting car and escape into Mexico.”

    So, even McCarthy doesn’t go as far as saying they “left him for dead”.

    And, one will note the difference between “back” and “backside”, aka “ass”.

    Once again, if you want to read the anti-David Weigel (aka real journalism), google the articles by SaraCarter.

  17. I knew somethin’ was fishy when I heard so many talk radio boneheads rallying to the defense of these guys…

  18. TLB: When you shoot somebody, and leave them there to bleed and limp away (no ambulance call), that’s leaving them for dead. But you have a point. They weren’t leaving him for dead as much as they were merely attempting to cover up their crime.

    You also dodged the issue of why it’s OK to shoot an unarmed, fleeing person from their 7 or 8 O’clock but not their 6 O’clock.

    Isn’t Sara Carter a poor man’s Malkin, why should we listen to a screaming rightie?

  19. AFAIK, the only person saying he was unarmed was the drug runner himself. Others say that when he was at work he was always armed.

    And, while I’m not an expert on the case, the impression I’ve gotten is that he ran (not “limped”) back into Mexico and got into a waiting car. They aren’t going to pursue him in that case.

  20. The trial transcripts have yet to be presented to the defense attorneys nearly two years after the trial. No appeal can proceed without the transcripts. Any “civil libertarians” upset about this?

  21. (…)
    The rogue duo had two easy opportunities to arrest Aldrete-Davila: First, when he attempted to surrender and Compean decided it would be better to smash him with the butt of a shotgun than to put cuffs on him, as it was his duty to do; and then, when the “heroes,” having felled the unarmed, fleeing suspect with a bullet fired into his buttocks, decided to leave him there so they could tend to the more important business of covering up the shooting.-Andrew McCarthy

    What is the source for this? I assume newspaper accounts since the transcripts are “lost” somewhere.

  22. Go look at the inital investigative memo in the case.

    It says that the drug dealer claimed to have been shot while attempting to cross the Border from Mexico into the United States. That would raise alarm bells to me if I were a prosecutor. The thought of a Border Patrol Officer shooting at a man as he was doing nothing more than attempting to cross a river?

    Of course, that was a lie.

    One day after the memo was finalized and signed by Chris Sanchez, Johnny Sutton wrote a letter to the Dealer offering him immunity–presumably based on a lie about how the shooting ocurred–that it occurred as the smuggler was trying to cross the border from Mexico to the United States. I say presumably because the first mention of an interview by the OIG of the Agents (Compean) I’ve seen indicates that it took place 2 days after the immunity deal was accepted by the dealer. Even if Ramos was interviewed prior to the immunity deal–I have to wonder how the prosecutor decided so swiftly that the dealer deserved immunity and the agents, prosecution. See below.

    Front page
    Second page

    He, apparently, offered immunity before the investigation was complete, which I think was a mistake.

    The immunity agreement does not appear to be revocable based on lies to investigators–only for lies made to the Grand Jury and at trial. Thus, once Sutton had the information about the pursuit–it appears that he could not revoke the immunity agreement–though Sutton apparently concluded that the dealer was lying given the version of the shooting that was presented at trial–which included the pursuit.

    Compean’s statement was taken 2 days after the smuggler signed the letter agreement accepting the offer of immunity according to this story. In his statement Compean states that he thought the dealer pointed a gun at him. This statement was not available to Sutton before he granted immunity to the dealer–as it was taken 2 days after the immunity deal was struck.

    Sutton, seemingly, had a choice after discovering the information about the pursuit and being put on notice that the dealer had proven himself to be a liar.

    Prosecute the Agents–or no one.

    This gives me pause. Of course, I don’t completely trust Federal Prosecutors or a system which gives immunity for testimony against others. But, that’s just a personal peeve.

  23. There is a great deal of wisdom in not trusting federal prosecutors.

    What a difference between what the Feds have done in this case and the extreme lengths they went to to protect the FBI killer Lon Horiuchi from prosecution.

    Horiuchi was never even tried-much less sentenced to 12 years in prison. And he actually killed someone.

    Maybe the main difference betwen the two cases is that Horiuchi’s victims were “white supremacists” and “poor white trash”, while the BP agents went after a very important Mexican drug smuggler.

    The Horiuchi case should be reopened. He could be tried for murder, or he could be tried under the federal statutes that have been used to prosecute Sixies Klansmen.

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