January 29, 2007

The hard truth

I haven't mentioned the trial of the tow US border agents before this, figuring that I'd heard too many conflicting "facts" to make up my mind. Until, that is, today. Andrew McCarthy lays down the actual law and figures that the verdicts and sentences are correct. Excerpt:

It should be enough to say that the job description for federal agents solemnly sworn to enforce the law does not include the commission of felonies like obstruction of justice and making false statements (in this case, quite intentional, highly material omissions on official government reports). But to state the obvious does not do this matter justice. Not even close.

Here’s the dirty little secret the agents’ partisans never tell in their relentless media rounds. You want to be mad about a miscreant like Aldrete-Davila getting away with importing scads of marijuana into Estados Unidos? Then be mad at … the “heroes.”

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.
The preponderance of the evidence established that Aldrete-Davila was unarmed. Besides Compean and Ramos, there were several other agents on the scene. None of them believed Aldrete-Davila posed a threat to their safety; none, other than the two defendants drew their weapons; and Compean and Ramos neither took cover nor alerted their fellow agents to do so.

More to the point, Compean admitted to investigators early on that the smuggler had raised his hands, palms open, in an attempt to surrender. This jibed not only with Aldrete-Davila’s account but with that of another Border Patrol agent. Compean opted not to take surrender, not to place the smuggler under arrest so he could be prosecuted.

On that score, for those over-heatedly analogizing the border to a battlefield, it is worth noting that even under the law of war, quarter must be given when it is sought. Compean, to the contrary, tried to strike Aldrete-Davila with the butt of his shotgun. But it turns out the agent was as hapless as he was malevolent. In the assault, he succeeded only in losing his own balance. The smuggler, naturally, took off again, whereupon Compean unleashed an incompetent fuselage — missing Aldrete-Davila with all fourteen shots.
More significant than strategy, Americans need to know that there are not two justice systems: one for corrupt public officials and one for everybody else. Everybody else, especially upon declining a generous plea offer, gets hit with the most serious offense. Treating these agents differently would have been very difficult to justify.

Who will the people turn to if those sworn to uphold the law break it at their whim? No one, that's who. You would have societal breakdown, as the government would have broken faith in its social compact with the people. So I'm okay with these agents going to jail for their lawless behavior.

Then there's this part about the drug smuggler:

For what it’s worth, I believe the treatment of the smuggler is more disturbing than the sentences imposed on the agents. The agents got more time than they would have without the mandatory minimum, but what they did here patently merited imprisonment. The alien narcotics smuggler, to the contrary, gets off scot-free, plus, thanks to another congressional statute, he can actually sue the United States — and is reportedly seeking $5 million in damages.

That is ludicrous. We can swallow hard and accept the cold reality that the government needed to make a strong case to get rid of bad agents who would otherwise still be on the job — potentially endangering others, including their fellow agents. We can understand, even though we resent, that the only way to obtain the testimony of Aldrete-Davila, who was in Mexico, was to promise that his statements would not be used against him. We can perhaps even abide that the drug dealer was not prosecuted. He was, after all, shot and wounded (albeit while fleeing to escape justice); he could have stayed in Mexico rather than agreeing to return for the trial; and the agents’ misconduct had left the case against him nigh impossible: the government says that none of the agents could make a physical identification based on their fleeting and chaotic interaction with him, that the marijuana-laden van did not yield forensic evidence tying him to it, and therefore that the only way to establish guilt would have been a confession — which the feds had to provide immunity to get.

Yes, all that is infuriating, but we regrettably realize that’s the way things go sometimes. What cannot be countenanced, however, is that an illegal alien’s criminality is not only excused but rewarded — and rewarded based on the fiction that the trespasser has rights under our Constitution.

Extend the same rights to illegals as those of US citizens? Uh, no. I don't think so. Should some weenie judge make a ruling otherwise, I believe that the proper response by the US government would be to give the judge the finger.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 10:32 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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