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Some people are more equal than others

By John Bender
web posted July 9, 2007

Scooter LibbyWhat ever one's thoughts are about Bush commuting Scooter Libby's sentence for his perjury and obstruction of justice convictions, the glaring contrast between his action in this case compared to the Edwards County Texas Deputy Sheriff, Guillermo Hernandez, and the Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos, cases, is disturbing.  Bush didn't commute their sentences even though most legal observers believe they were railroaded by a rogue federal prosecutor.

The Hernandez case is especially an egregious example of prosecutorial abuse.  It borders on being as bad as the Duke Lacrosse case.

While on regular patrol, Deputy Sheriff Guillermo Hernandez, around midnight, stopped a vehicle for running a red light.  When he walked up to the vehicle he saw eight people lying down in the back.  When the driver saw that Deputy Hernandez had spotted his illegal cargo, he tried to run over Deputy Hernandez and sped away.

Deputy Hernandez fired at the rear tires of the vehicle that tried to kill him.  The vehicle was a smuggler's vehicle filled with illegal aliens.  The driver who tried to kill Deputy Hernandez was a smuggler; a dangerous criminal.  His passengers were also criminals.  One of Deputy Hernandez' bullets fragmented when it hit the vehicle and a fragment chipped a couple of teeth of one of the criminals inside the vehicle.

The sheriff's department internal affairs investigation into the shooting determined that Hernandez followed the letter of the law in defending himself.  A separate and independent investigation by the unimpeachable Texas Rangers also found that Deputy Hernandez did nothing wrong and violated no law.

Yet, after Mexican consular officials demanded that Deputy Hernandez be prosecuted, Johnny Sutton United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas, went after Deputy Hernandez and prosecuted him for "violating the civil rights" of the criminal by shooting at the vehicle that had tried to kill him.

After a trial in which the U.S. Attorney manipulated the facts of the case to place Hernandez' intentions that night in doubt, a federal jury in Del Rio, Texas, convicted Deputy Hernandez of "deprivation of civil rights under color of law." 

The statements given by the criminal occupants of the Suburban conflicted with Deputy Hernandez' statements as to the number of shots fired and when they were fired. One claimed seven shots were fired. Another claimed five shots were fired. Furthermore, some of the vehicle occupants claimed that Deputy Hernandez continued to fire a gun at them even as they were fleeing from the vehicle into the dark field after the Suburban ran off the road.

Deputy Hernandez originally stated that he fired only three shots, all at the tires of the fleeing Suburban.  The subsequent Texas Rangers investigation determined that he fired four shots based on the number of casings at the scene, the number of bullets remaining in Deputy Hernandez gun, and the number of holes in the back of the Suburban (and its left tire).

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Bauman, the attorney Johnny Sutton assigned to prosecute Deputy Hernandez, made hay out of the discrepancies of the number of shots fired.  By highlighting the difference between Deputy Hernandez' original statement that he fired three shots, versus the claims of the illegal aliens, Bauman created doubt in the veracity of Deputy Hernandez' statements in the jury's minds. Bauman suggested to the jury, and got them to believe, that if Deputy Hernandez was trying to cover up how many shots he fired, maybe, he really did fire on the criminals as they fled the Suburban in all different directions that night.

Incredibly, United States District Judge Robert T. Dawson ordered that Hernandez pay a $5,000 fine and be placed under supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term. He was also ordered to pay restitution to the injured criminal in the amount of $5,374.00 plus a $100.00 special assessment.

Bush refused to intervene in this case and Deputy Hernandez went to prison for shooting at the tires of a vehicle a criminal had just used to try to kill a peace officer.

In the better known case of Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos, two Border Patrol agents were also railroaded by Johnny Sutton's office and are now in prison for shooting at a drug smuggler who Officer Ramos thought was pointing a gun at them.  They were sentenced to 11- and 12-year prison terms.

I'll not go into the whole story but the reader can read the story here: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51417

Bush also refused to intervene in the Compean and Ramos case even after a gang of five illegal aliens attacked and severely beat Ramos in his prison cell.  Outraged members of Congress have asked Bush to intervene in these cases, but he has steadfastly refused.

When asked about why Bush was refusing to intervene in the Border Patrol agents' case, Bush spinmiester, Tony Snow, said, ""This is not the case of the United States saying, we are not going to support people who go after drug dealers. Of course we are. We think it's incumbent to go after drug dealers, and we also think that it's vitally important to make sure that we provide border security so our people are secure." 

"We also believe that the people who are working to secure that border themselves obey the law. And in a court of law, these two agents were convicted on 11 of 12 counts by a jury of their peers after a lengthy trial at which they did have the opportunity to make their case," he said.

Well, Libby was convicted by a jury of his peers after a lengthy trial at which he had an opportunity to make his case.
Libby also had a team of the best, most aggressive, criminal defense lawyers in the country defending him.  He was prosecuted by a prosecutor appointed by his friend Bush at a trial presided over by a judge appointed by his friend, Bush.   Hernandez, Compean, and Ramos, didn't have those advantages.

Bush even refused to act on a request from Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.; Ted Poe, R-Texas; Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C.; Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.; and Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.; who are appalled by the railroading of agents Compean and Ramos, asking him to have Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez request the Justice Department to direct federal prosecutors not to oppose a court motion to keep the agents free on bond during the appeals process.  The agents are rotting in prison as their appeals slowly grind through the courts.

A very telling example of the contrast between the administration's attitude about the brave Border Patrol agents facing jail and his crony facing jail came when Les Kinsolving, World Net Daily's White House correspondent, asked Bush spinmiester, Tony Snow, whether Bush would use his power of pardon to free Compean and Ramos, he responded:
"That's an unanswerable question, Les. The president is the person who is responsible for pardons. You can tell the network, which made you ask that question, that it is nonsensical," Snow said.

One is justified in wondering if Snow's insistence that, "The president does not look upon this as granting a favor to anyone, and to do that is to misconstrue the nature of the deliberations," is any more truthful than his claim that the Bush-Kennedy amnesty bill wasn't an amnesty bill.  Neither Bush nor Snow is noted for his veracity.

If one does take Snow and Bush at their word, and Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence wasn't a favor to his crony, one must conclude that Bush has a higher standard for the conduct of rank and file law enforcement officers than he does for those in the highest positions in his administration.

If Libby doesn't belong in jail, Deputy Sheriff, Guillermo Hernandez, and the Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos sure as hell don't belong there.  But they aren't big shot members of the ruling political class and aren't Bush cronies so it looks like they aren't going to get the same consideration Libby got.  That should disgust every American. ESR

John Bender is a freelance writer living in Texas.

 

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