Ignacio "Nacho" Ramos comforts his wife before heading to prison.
To the surprise of nobody – at least, no sober and serious observer of the case -- Former Border Patrol Agent of the Year nominee Ignacio “Nacho” Ramos has been attacked and seriously injured in prison. Ramos and his partner, Jose Alonso Compean, are serving 11 and 12 year terms, respectively, for trying to arrest a Mexican drug smuggler on the Texas border almost exactly two years ago.
The smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, was driving a van laden with 800 pounds of marijuana when he was stopped by Agent Compean. A brief scuffle ended with Compean bloodied and in the dirt, and Aldrete fleeing on foot for Mexico. Ramos gave chase. When Aldrete appeared to assuming a shooter's stance, Ramos and Compean fired, wounding the smuggler in his Cheney.
Acting in tandem with the criminal syndicate ruling Mexico, the Bush regime spared no effort to imprison Ramos and Compean – seizing the exemplary Border Patrol Agents in paramilitary raids on their homes, concealing vital evidence, lying about purported confessions by the agents, and extending extraordinary immunity to Aldrete to use him as the star witness in the trial. Ramos and Compean were accused of violating Aldrete's rights by shooting him in the back as he fled.
The “Justice” Department, it should be pointed out, displayed no similar zeal in prosecuting the federal agents who shot and killed Sammy Weaver when the youngster was fleeing into his family's shanty (oh, forgive me -- “armed compound”) at Ruby Ridge. Federal sniper Lon Horiuchi, who admitted to blowing off the head of Vicky Weaver when she was “armed” only with a nursing baby, not only escaped prosecution, he was taken under federal protection.
Strikingly different priorities were at work in the case of Ramos and Compean.
The “Justice” Department and Department of Homeland Security even helped Aldrete file a $5 million civil suit against the Border Patrol, claiming that he was shot while unarmed, despite Ramos and Compean's insistence that he was carrying a gun. The suit, coupled with the federal prosecution of Ramos and Compean, created a unique condition of moral hazard: Aldrete's success in the lawsuit required that Ramos and Compean be found guilty, and the testimony offered by the plaintiff in the suit was the only evidence against the agents.
What this amounted to was federal witness-tampering, through the use of a $5 million bribe offered to a Mexican drug smuggler.
Mexican narcotics smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila: A favored pet of both Washington and Mexico City.
Adding insufferable insult to unbearable injury, Emperor Bush has pardoned numerous drug traffickers while stolidly refusing widespread requests (from both the public and political allies in Congress) to pardon Ramos and Compean. (William F. Jasper, whose work is a good and sufficient reason to subscribe to The New American, has compiled the relevant details in digestible form here.)
This case has understandably riled millions of conservatives who are just now tumbling to the fact that George W. Bush isn't the pillar of right-wing rectitude they had believed him to be. The rant-radio airwaves and right blogosphere resound with denunciations of Bush for yet another betrayal of our national sovereignty and those who defend it. That indictment is sound, as far as it goes, which isn't far enough.
The treatment of Ramos and Compean is typical of what we can expect as the cartelization of North America continues. This new architecture – officially called the Security and Prosperity Partnership, and unofficially called the North American Union – would fuse the US, Mexico, and Canada in one economic and political bloc, under the plenary authority of a single ruling elite that unites the criminal underworld and the political “overworld.”
As I pointed out just a few days ago, the Bush family has deep and significant connections to Mexico's dominant political criminal cliques. That relationship was described quite tidily in a 2000 expose by Julie Reynolds in El Andar:
“Those who say that George W. Bush has scant knowledge of foreign affairs don’t understand his family’s relationship with Mexico. If one event could be said to make that relationship visible, it had to be the state dinner given eleven years ago by President Bush for Mexico’s president, Carlos Salinas. It was an elegant yet boisterous gala, where the biggest movers and shakers in Texas and Mexico congregated and celebrated. This group was to become W’s Mexican legacy, a gift of ties and connections passed on from the father to his son. What was not visible was that the group included two men with numerous links to drug cartel figures. These men helped George W. Bush win the Latino vote in Texas.”
According to Reynolds, the mobbed-up figures were “the loyal `Amigos de Bush' from San Antonio: criminal defense lawyer Roy Barrera Jr. and car dealer Ernesto Ancira Jr.”
That same meeting, convened to celebrate progress toward the NAFTA pact (also known as the “Magna Carta for the drug cartels”) was Gary Jacobs of Laredo Bank. Jacobs became the chief US representative of Carlos Hank Rhon, the son of Carlos Hank Gonzalez – the John D. Rockefeller of Mexico. Carlos and his brother Jorge, the former mayor of Tijuana and aspiring governor of northern Baja, are deeply enmeshed in Mexico's narcotics industry. Jorge reportedly had something close to a hands-on role in the 1993 murder of Juan Jesus Posadas, the Bishop of Tijuana, on behalf of the Gulf Cartel. (He was seen sharing a first-class Aeromexico section with the murderers, Juan and Javier Arellano Felix, during their flight home immediately after Posadas was killed.)
While Jorge is an unreconstructed thug, Carlos is the relatively housebroken Hank brother, the one who knows which fork to use when dining with representatives of Citibank and Goldman Sachs. Carlos's minion, Gary Jacobs was a key contributor and advisor to George W. Bush during his Texas gubernatorial bids and his and presidential campaigns. Hank also retains the services of former Republican Senator Warren Rudman as a Capitol Hill lobbyist.
Bush's links to Mexico's ruling elites help explain his indifference to the plight of Ramos and Compean. There are other compromising connections at work here, such as those said to exist between Border Patrol Agent Rene Sanchez -- a naturalized American born in Mexico – and his childhood friend, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila. It was reportedly Agent Sanchez who suggested to Aldrete that he file a lawsuit against the Border Patrol.
But for sheer, unalloyed, audacious corruption, nothing in the case of Ramos and Compean eclipses the role played by Johnny Sutton, the US Attorney for San Antonio who presided over the vindictive prosecution of the Border Patrol Agents.
Sutton served on the Bush-Cheney transition team and was Criminal Justice Policy Director for Texas during Bush's two terms as Governor. Before becoming the impassioned avenger of the wounded drug smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, Sutton – according to DEA whistle-blower Sandalio Gonzalez, recently retired as Special Agent in Charge of the Agency's El Paso office – helped cover up the “House of Death” mass murders in Ciudad Juarez.
“Between August 2003 and mid-January 2004, about a dozen people were tortured, murdered, and then buried in the yard of a house in the Mexican border town” of Ciudad Juarez, recounts the Narco News, which broke the story. One of those directly involved in the murders was Jesus “Lalo” Contreras, a former Mexican Federal Police officer who infiltrated the Juarez Cartel as an informant for the US Department of Homeland Security (the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees the Border Patrol).
“The informant's handlers, agents and supervisors with the El Paso office of ICE were allegedly fully aware of Contreras's complicity in the murders, yet did nothing to stop the killing,” supposedly out of fear that they would ruin ongoing investigations. Each of the murder sessions was referred to as a carne asada, or barbecue.
Although “Lalo”'s handlers and supervisors – all the way up to Sutton – were aware that people were being murdered by their informant, they did nothing until the killings were discovered by a DEA agent on the ground in Juarez. This resulted in a hasty evacuation of all DEA employees and their families from the area.
Had the DEA agent not made that timely discovery, it's possible that he or one of his colleagues – or perhaps one of their dependents – would have been the featured entree at the next carne asada.
In a January 24, 2004 letter, Sandalio Gonzalez – then in charge of the DEA's San Antonio office -- confronted Sutton about his role in the cover-up. Predictably, his professional reputation was soon ruined and he was driven to an “early retirement.”
Given what Sutton, acting on behalf of his masters, did to Ramos and Compean, Sandalio Gonzalez could consider himself blessed.
Despite all the justified outrage generated by the patent injustice inflicted on Ramos and Compean and their families, I've yet to see anyone articulate the obvious lesson taught in this mess, which is: The "War on Drugs" is an unambiguous fraud.
Agent Jose Compean poses with confiscated marijuana. He's a good man, but trying to stop the flow of narcotics from Mexico is a bit like trying to dig the Grand Canyon with a thimble.
Even if diligent, incorruptible agents like Ramos and Compean were able to shut down the supply of narcotics coming into our country from Mexico (this would be like emptying the Rio Grande with an eyedropper), the criminal elites they serve wouldn't permit them to do so. Their mission is one of FedGov PR and price support for a commodity that's already the world's leading cash crop.
[Incidentally, and for what it's worth, today's installment is the 100th essay published in this space since August 16, 2006.]Update (2/8) --
Some Republican lawmakers are reportedly discussing the possibility that George W. Bush could be impeached over the imprisonment of Agents Ramos and Compean. This case does offer ample cause for an impeachment proceeding. It should be remembered, however, that the Bushling and his adult handler Dick Cheney commit a half-dozen impeachable offenses before breakfast every day, and most of them involve offenses against people who are not government employees.
It's typical of the Republican leadership, and the activist groups who are content to bob in the GOP's wake like rubber ducks, to fixate on an injustice done to members of the tax-consuming class, rather than on the manifold and ever-increasing offenses committed by the Bush regime against the rights of those facing the "business end of government."
Aggressive war by presidential decree? Using presidential "signing statements" to nullify laws? Summary detention and torture of innocent suspects? Destruction of the foundation principle of due process, habeas corpus? All of this is unexceptionable -- as long as the President doesn't countenance, or connive in, the mistreatment of Border Patrol Agents. Or so it would seem to the GOP leadership and those seeking to curry favor with them.
If we're looking for an exemplary case on which to build an impeachment campaign, how about that of the innocent Canadian citizen Mahrer Arar, who was "rendered" by the Bush Regime into Syrian custody for nearly a year of imprisonment and torture?
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