Saturday, July 21, 2007

Pardoning The Border Patrol

by Rich Lowry

"FOR President Bush, one controversial act of clemency shouldn't be enough. Justice demands that he follow up his commutation for former Dick Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby by commuting the sentences of two Border Patrol agents convicted of illegally shooting a Mexican drug smuggler.

The case of agents Ignacio Ramos and José Alonso Compean has long been a cause celebre on the populist right. It has now broken into the mainstream with a Judiciary Committee hearing chaired by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein in which all senators present took exception to how the case was handled. With Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Feinstein has written a letter to President Bush calling for commutation, giving the agents' case an important bipartisan imprimatur.

The agents would have been forgotten long ago if their case hadn't been kept alive by talk-radio hosts and a few right-wing congressmen, together with CNN's resident demagogic huckster Lou Dobbs. Unfortunately, they have at times seemed to be running a campaign to sanctify Ramos and Compean, making them the anti-immigration right's equivalent of the various criminal-heroes of the left.

Make no mistake: Ramos and Compean shot an unarmed man who was fleeing and covered up what they'd done. These were crimes, and the rule of law doesn't truly exist unless it applies to members of law enforcement who break the rules."

And I'll end Mr. Lowry's bandwagon hop right there. Yesterday it seemed I couldn't find a talk radio host NOT speaking about the felonious border guards and it had to be more than a mere coincidence. There ARE many things about this case that are puzzling, but my bullshit meter gets pegged dead-red when folks shy away from, or add seemingly as a footnote, the fact that both men committed serious felonies. Lowry did not and to him I offer kudos.

But what sentence IS appropriate for shooting an unarmed man in the back then trying to cover it up? How long do you think YOU would be sent to prison after being found guilty on 12 felony counts? They'll be out in 6 years or thereabouts, and hows about you? Parole Board going to feel the same way? Are the talk radio hosts saying that police are special people and shouldn't be charged, convicted, then sentenced the same way as mere civilians?

Is this simply another instance of Only Ones being given special treatment by the media?

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