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Thread: Final insult: two convicted criminals (not Cheney or Rumsfeld) have sentence commuted

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Default Final insult: two convicted criminals (not Cheney or Rumsfeld) have sentence commuted

    With a reeking pile of misery as his legacy already, George W. Bush gave a last finger to the rule of law and immigrant-rights groups -- and tossed a big bone to the mouth-foaming, immigrant-bashing nativists who have taken over the GOP -- on his way out the door today:

    In his final acts of clemency, President George W. Bush on Monday commuted the prison sentences of two former U.S. Border Patrol agents whose convictions for shooting a Mexican drug dealer ignited fierce debate about illegal immigration.

    Bush's decision to commute the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who tried to cover up the shooting, was welcomed by both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. They had long argued that the agents were merely doing their jobs, defending the American border against criminals. They also maintained that the more than 10-year prison sentences the pair was given were too harsh.

    Apparently "just doing your job" is now the handy Conservative Get Out of Jail Free card. Certainly that's been Bush's justification for his own lawbreaking, and so it makes a certain sense that he would apply it now.

    But there was never any excuse for these Border Patrol agents' behavior. They not only clearly abused their police powers, but committed even further crimes in trying to cover it up.

    The most thorough evisceration of the Ramos/Compean martyr myth was Alex Koppelman's superb Salon piece of last year:

    At trial in the federal courthouse in El Paso, Border Patrol agents from the Fabens station took the stand to testify against Ramos and Compean. Fellow agents, including one who had observed the shooting, contradicted Compean's story about where he was and how he was positioned when he fired his weapon. The agent who had helped Compean hide shell casings admitted it under oath. Prosecutors showed that Compean had repeatedly changed his story about the shooting and that it didn't match Ramos' account. They were also able to show that although Compean had discussed the shooting with other agents after it happened, it wasn't until his arrest that he began claiming that Aldrete-Davila had had a gun.

    The prosecution's version of events was convincing enough for the jury, in March 2006, to find Ramos and Compean guilty of all but assault with intent to commit murder. Most media coverage of the case was local, and it comported with the jury's verdict: a bad shooting, a coverup and damning testimony from fellow agents that led to an uncontroversial conviction. Seven months later, a judge sentenced Ramos and Compean to 11 and 12 years in prison, respectively.

    But by the time of their sentencing, the right wing had discovered the agents and begun constructing a new narrative. Ramos and Compean's newfound supporters soon settled on a radically different version of the shooting, cobbled together from speculation, rumors, misstatements of fact and various unproven assertions cherry-picked from the case the defense presented at trial.

    As with nearly every myth emerging from the mists of Greater Wingnuttia, this one involved a familiar cast of media characters. Jerome Corsi of Swiftboating and "Obama Nation" infamy -- you know, the guy who never met a fact he couldn't falsify -- and Lou Dobbs played key roles in mainstreaming the Ramos/Compean story as a case of the Bush administration kowtowing to Mexican interests.

    Then, of course, you had guys like Glenn Beck promoting the story as evidence of the return of the New World Order -- not to mention an opportunity to promote membership in the John Birch Society.

    Incidentally, the White House is saying that these are the last pardons or commutations that Bush is planning. I guess this means that Politico list of 10 pardons to watch for -- which does include Ramos/Compean at No. 7 -- is probably defunct.

    UPDATE: As one might guess, the Greater Wingnuttia is ecstatic. Check out the report from Neil Cavuto on Fox News:


    This is especially precious for the exchange he has with the head of Mothers Against Illegal Aliens, who not only shares with us a paranoiac tale about how a burglary at Mrs. Ramos' home was actually a "hit" attempt, but seems to have managed to hang onto one of those bridesmaids outfits from the '70s, which is a rare feat.Crooks and Liars

    Can't get the Cavuto video up but it's at the link. These people are bonkers.
    Last edited by buttmunch; January 20th, 2009 at 04:40 PM.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    They didn't murder anybody. They shot a guy in the ass. And they got a sentence worse than many murderers get. That was a pretty good decision by Bush.

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    Elite Member KristiB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MohandasKGanja View Post
    They didn't murder anybody. They shot a guy in the ass. And they got a sentence worse than many murderers get. That was a pretty good decision by Bush.
    Agreed.

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    Elite Member MontanaMama's Avatar
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    This article doesn't make any sense - Bush was wholly against any regulations to monitor the borders (which, by the by, is the first indication of a sovereign nation - to secure its borders, so what does this make the US?). Those guys never should have been prosecuted - the drug dealer got a total pass to testify AND THEN got caught smuggling drugs AGAIN. This case never made any sense. And there was NO murder. Bush gets no support from me, but this was the right thing to do - he should have pardoned them, not commuted the sentences, though.

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    Elite Member Mel1973's Avatar
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    [edit] Pardons and commutations signed on final day in office

    Clinton issued 140 pardons as well as several commutations on his last day of office, January 20, 2001.[14] When a sentence is commuted, the conviction remains intact, but the sentence can be altered in a number of ways. Some controversial actions include the following:
    • Peter MacDonald - The day before President Clinton left office, U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy lobbied the White House to commute the sentence of the former leader of the Navajo Nation. MacDonald was sentenced to 14 years at a Federal Prison in Texas for fraud, extortion, inciting riots, bribery, and corruption stemming from the Navajo purchase of the Big Boquillas Ranch in Northwestern Arizona. His sentence was commuted after he served 10 years.
    • Carlos A. Vignali had his sentence for cocaine trafficking commuted, after serving 6 of 15 years in federal prison.
    • Almon Glenn Braswell was pardoned of his mail fraud and perjury convictions, even while a federal investigation was underway regarding additional money laundering and tax evasion charges.[15] Braswell and Carlos Vignali each paid approximately $200,000 to Hillary Clinton's brother, Hugh Rodham, to represent their respective cases for clemency. Hugh Rodham returned the payments after they were disclosed to the public.[16] Braswell would later invoke the Fifth Amendment at a Senate Committee hearing in 2001, when questioned about allegations of his having systematically defrauded senior citizens of millions of dollars.[17]
    • Linda Sue Evans and Susan Rosenberg were pardoned. Weather Underground members, they were imprisoned on weapons and explosives charges.[18][19]
    • Marc Rich, a fugitive who had fled the U.S. during his prosecution and was residing in Switzerland. Rich owed $48 million in taxes and was charged with 51 counts of tax fraud, was pardoned of tax evasion after clemency pleas from Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, among many other international luminaries. He was required to pay a $100 million dollar fine and waive any use of the pardon as a defense against any future civil charges that were filed against him in the same case. Critics complained that Denise Rich, his former wife, had made substantial donations to the Clinton library and to Mrs. Clinton's senate campaign. Emails uncovered during the course of the investigation revealed that her final donation was provided a year before Scooter Libby requested that she approach Clinton for a pardon. According to Paul Volcker's independent investigation of Iraqi Oil-for-Food kickback schemes, Marc Rich was a middleman for several suspect Iraqi oil deals involving over 4 million barrels of oil.[20]
    • Susan McDougal, who had already completed her sentence, was pardoned for her role in the Whitewater scandal; McDougal had served 18 months on contempt charges for refusing to testify about Clinton's role.
    • Dan Rostenkowski, a former Democratic Congressman convicted in the Congressional Post Office Scandal. Rostenkowski had served his entire sentence.
    • Melvin J. Reynolds, a Democratic Congressman from Illinois, who was convicted of bank fraud, 12 counts of sexual assault, obstruction of justice, and solicitation of child pornography had his sentence commuted on the bank fraud charge and was allowed to serve the final months under the auspices of a half way house. He had served his entire sentence on child sex abuse charges before the commutation of the later convictions.
    • Roger Clinton, the president's half-brother, on drug charges after having served the entire sentence more than a decade before. Roger Clinton would be charged with drunk driving and disorderly conduct in an unrelated incident within a year of the pardon.[21] He was also briefly alleged to have been utilized in lobbying for the Braswell pardon, among others. However, no wrongdoing was uncovered.
    On Feb. 18, 2001, Clinton wrote a New York Times column defending the 140 pardons.[22]
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    Cheney and Bush will die. As will we all, I suppose.

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Whoops, sorry about the murder reference but no, they shouldn't have gotten off. They lied, they covered up and they acted like they were in teh wild west. Sorry folks but the law needs to apply to EVERYONE. The fact that the Bush admin made every effort to ignore that fact and tried to convince everyone that the laws only apply to 'others' is not going to change the fact that these two chuckle heads acted in an illegal manner. Fuck them. Fuck Bush. Fuck this whole thing that the law only applies when people want it to apply.

    And the Clinton pardons, just as any other presidential pardons (let's think Ford pardoning Nixon) have no bearing on this issue. They were obviously out of control border agents who thought they could act with impunity. And now Bush has decided to reaffirm that message. I can't believe anyone would support letting people like this off.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    While they should have been fired, they did not deserve to be prosecuted as vindictively as they were. They totally deserved to either be pardoned or have their sentences commuted. Absolutely ridiculous case.

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Give me a break. They shot an unarmed man, lied about it, tried to cover it up. They're being held to a higher standard and they should be since they were charged with upholding the laws of the country but knowingly and willingly not only broke those laws but dishonored their office and their country by being lying asshats with itchy trigger fingers. Fuck them.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buttmunch View Post
    Give me a break. They shot an unarmed man, lied about it, tried to cover it up. They're being held to a higher standard and they should be since they were charged with upholding the laws of the country but knowingly and willingly not only broke those laws but dishonored their office and their country by being lying asshats with itchy trigger fingers. Fuck them.
    Nah, fuck the guy who sneaked into the country multiple times to sell illegal drugs, and then got himself shot in the ass.

    Instead, he gets immunity and a free ticket and hotel to the United States so that he can testify against two border agents and have them get a more severe sentence than people who commit 2nd-degree murder. Bush didn't make a lot of great calls, but this was one of them.

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    Elite Member nana55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MohandasKGanja View Post
    They didn't murder anybody. They shot a guy in the ass. And they got a sentence worse than many murderers get. That was a pretty good decision by Bush.
    Speaking as a democratic liberal.........I agree. It was a ridiculously heavy fine. The guy was a well-known drug dealer. Even his mom said he always had a gun with him when dealing drugs. He was shot in the ass and is now suing us. They probably covered it up because of this exact outcome.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Also, the commutation was supported by 31 of 34 members of the Texas Congressional Delegation (including both senators).

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    Elite Member nana55's Avatar
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    Buttmunch, do you live in San Diego or even Southern California? If you did you may have a different opinion. The illegal problem and the drug problem is so severe here it is getting scary. I wished they killed the fucker. I've no sympathy for him or his kind. He wasn't some poor guy trying to make a living. They made a mistake, and should have been punished, but 10 to 12 years, give me a break.
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    Elite Member Butterfly's Avatar
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    I wonder how many people this drug dealing fuck killed with his gun & drugs? They should have put a bullet in his head. These two should get a medal, but instead this criminal gets treated like he is an upstanding citizen.
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    Elite Member january's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nana55 View Post
    Speaking as a democratic liberal.........I agree. It was a ridiculously heavy fine. The guy was a well-known drug dealer. Even his mom said he always had a gun with him when dealing drugs. He was shot in the ass and is now suing us. They probably covered it up because of this exact outcome.
    Yeah, I thought it was unbelievable that these two got ten years when most convicted for manslaughter get six-eight, and they aren't murderers. This may be the only good thing Bush has done. This article is incredibly skewed, also.

    I have no sympathy for that drug dealer, this was the best thing that ever happened to him, he'll probably make some money of it. THAT shows me how screwed up our justice system is.
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