Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Thursday, February 08, 2007
The sleeper issue that's (also) sinking the president
Forget the war ... okay don't forget the war ... but there's another issue that folks on the left and in the center are sleeping on (still) but that is further weighing down President Bush: it's the continued illegal immigration standstill, and it currently is embodied in the case of two border patrol agents who are serving long prison sentences for shooting an alleged illegal immigrant and then covering it up. Conservative politicians and pundits, including CNN's Lou Dobbs, are demanding that the president DO something, including pardoning the men, one of whom was recently beaten up in prison. Here's the latest, and it's hot. From Raw:
Several Republican lawmakers have sharply criticized the imprisonment of two border agents who were convicted of shooting a Mexican drug smuggler in the back and attempting to cover it up.

Appeals to President Bush to pardon the two men, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, have increased since one was assaulted by fellow inmates in a federal prison last weekend.

Yesterday, two Repulican Congressmen had strong words to say about Bush, with one even threatening impeachment.

"Reps. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., blasted President Bush for not intervening in the case, with Rohrabacher hinting that he would consider pressing for impeachment if either of the two agents was killed in prison," Dave Montgomery reports for McClatchy Newspapers.

"Now, I tell you, Mr. President, if these men -- especially after this assault -- are murdered in prison, or if one of them lose their lives, there's going to be some kind of impeachment talk in Capitol Hill," Rohrabacher said.
The McClatchy story has more:
WASHINGTON - The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday apologetically retracted staff members' comments that two Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a Mexican drug smuggler had told investigators they intended "to shoot Mexicans."

The department's inspector general issued the retraction at a congressional hearing as the department released a previously sealed report into the conduct of the two agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.

Congressional pressure to remove the two agents from prison - either through presidential pardons or by releasing them on bail pending appeal - intensified Wednesday after reports that fellow inmates assaulted Ramos over the weekend.

The case has become a cause celebre among conservative groups, which contend that Ramos and Compean were railroaded by overzealous federal prosecutors who gave the drug smuggler immunity to testify against the two agents.

U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton of San Antonio has defended his handling of the case, saying the agents seriously overstepped their authority by attempting to cover up the shooting of the smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, and destroying evidence. They began serving their sentences last month. Compean faces 12 years in prison, Ramos 11.

The Homeland Security Department, which includes the Border Patrol, released its inspector general's report after four Texas lawmakers demanded the document to compare it with information from a briefing that department staff members gave them in September.

The aides told the lawmakers that the two agents had admitted to investigators that they intended to "shoot Mexicans." But Inspector General Richard L. Skinner said under questioning by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, that the statements were erroneous, and he apologized.

The report also contradicted statements made in the briefing that the two men knew that Aldrete-Davila was unarmed and didn't pose a threat. The report contained a transcript of Compean's account to investigators, in which he said that he and Ramos were trying "to kill the alien" because they thought he had a gun.

McCaul described the errors as serious misrepresentations that painted a distorted picture of the case.

"My complaint here is that they weren't forthcoming with all the evidence," McCaul said.
So will Bush relent, and give in to the base? If he does, he risks angering Hispanics, whom he sees as crucial to the GOP's national electoral future. If he doesn't, he'll have hell to pay with his own base.

What's a president to do?

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posted by JReid @ 12:41 PM  
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