In 2005, U.S. Border Patrol Agents Nacho Ramos and Jose Compeon stopped Oswaldo Aldrete-Davilla, a Mexican drug smuggler in the U.S. illegally, while the latter was in possession of nearly a half-ton of contraband. A struggle ensued and Davilla was shot in the buttocks. Ramos and Compeon, concerned about reporting the matter, foolishly attempted to clean up the scene, were caught, and were sentenced to more than a decade in prison, as David Broussard neatly summarized last year.
On his last full day in office, President Bush has commuted the sentences of the agents, undoing a terrible injustice inflicted by the legal system on two of its own, men who were simply trying to protect the borders of their country as per their sworn duty. A wide range of people have been asking for this result for over a year, including, as David noted, “Senators as far apart politically as John Cornyn (R-TX), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)”.
Better late than never, and certainly better today than tomorrow.
President Bush, unlike former President Bill Clinton, had the wisdom not to go on a last-minute spree pardoning and commuting the sentences of known and convicted criminals, something that makes today’s action vis-a-vis Ramos and Compeon more significant.
Soon-to-be-president Barack Obama would do well to recognize the symbolism of the action given the hue and cry from the far left demanding that his administration pursue Bush administration justice department officials on war crimes charges.
In George W. Bush we witness a president who recognized the necessity for Ramos and Compeon to do what they had to do to protect the citizens of the United States.
This is what President-elect Obama needs to do as well, whether he agrees with each and every decision made by the DoJ, the CIA, etc., or not. The men and women working for America’s security in the post-9/11 environment deserve to be recognized for their service, not excoriated for it. He and other Democratic leaders such as Nancy Pelosi ought to know that.
It is incumbent upon the new president to see that their deeds, which are mostly good and only rarely ill-conceived, are not punished in the service of an ideological manhunt such as the one called for by writers such as Glen Greenwald and the mob at FireDogLake, to whom I am unwilling to link on this subject, so hateful and ridiculous are their positions.
If the Obama administration wants to ban waterboarding and open the gates of Guantanamo, that’s his decision to make. But it would be absolutely unacceptable for his administration to second-guess current officials’ decisions with an eye toward pressing criminal charges.
For a litmus test, all Mr. Obama need do is ask himself a simple question: If I were in CIA agent John Smith’s shoes and given the nature of our enemies, could I see myself or another a reasonable person acting as he did in Situation X? The answer, I think, as was clearly so in the case of Ramos and Compeon, will be an affirmative in nearly every case. And that ought to be the bottom line.