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February 1, 2007

Harsh border agent sentences producing half-truths

The buzz over the border agent case (background here and here) continues to grow.  CNN has a new segment about the case, entitled Border outrage, in which there are accusations that federal prosecutor Johnny Sutton has not been fully truthful about granting immunity to the Mexican drug smuggler shot by the border agents.  The CNN piece also had various lawmakers suggesting that the government is covering up facts that might exonerate Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean.

Meanwhile, this news report from McClatchy Newspapers suggests President Bush in now misrepresenting his pardon power.  According to the news report, in "an interview on the Fox television network Wednesday, Bush again said he is bound by strict federal guidelines on pardons and cannot immediately grant a pardon to the two agents."  Though the Justice Department has its own internal pardon protocols, there are no legally binding restrictions on the President's pardon power and he can grant a pardon to any and all federal defendants at any time.

As I have said in post below, I think this case is fundamentally about the sad realities of mandatory minimums.  I think there can be a very reasonable debate over whether the agents committed criminal acts justifying some punishment.  Beyond debate, at least in my mind, is the notion that they deserve to be lcoked up for over a decade based on their behavior under these circumstances.  But, as often happens, a clear sentencing problem is lost in an over-heated debate of other issues.

Related posts on border case injustices:

February 1, 2007 at 03:16 AM | Permalink


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This isn't the first scandal Johnny Sutton has been involved in.

Check this out.


July 5, 2005

A recently retired, high-ranking DEA official is calling on Congress to investigate the role played by a U.S. Attorney in the cover-up of an informant’s participation in mass murder in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

The DEA official, Sandalio Gonzalez, is pointing the finger squarely at Johnny Sutton, the U.S. Attorney in San Antonio, Texas. He claims that had Sutton taken action sooner in the case, more than a dozen people might still be alive today. As a result, Gonzalez says Congress must act now to get to the bottom of what Sutton knew, and when he knew it.

According to Gonzalez, who, until January of this year, served as special agent in charge of the DEA’s El Paso field office, Sutton was clearly aware of the informant’s participation in the murders by at least Feb. 24, 2004. That’s when Gonzalez fired off a letter to Sutton blowing the whistle on the informant’s role in the murders.

Posted by: Steve | Feb 9, 2007 8:44:19 PM

this is a case of abuse of power and severe treatment of someone who was weaker than them. They deserved the time they got in jail and should stay there and rot for abusing their power and shooting an unarmed person. I am sick of cops getting away with shooting people and then when someone else tries to defend themselves against someone abusing their power, they go to jail. Sorry but they deserved the 10 years and should stay there.

Posted by: Cynthia | Jul 19, 2007 12:35:21 AM

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