The prosecution of, and harsh sentences meted out to, two Border Patrol agents involved in a shooting incident at the Texas-Mexico border tell us all we really need to know about the Bush administration’s plans to erase U.S. borders once and for all.

On February 17, 2005, Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos responded to a request for backup from fellow agent Jose Compean.  Compean had noticed a suspicious van driving along the levee road at the Rio Grande near Fabens, Texas (about 40 miles east of El Paso)—an area frequented by drug smugglers.  Ramos drove toward Fabens, following a third agent already headed for the scene.

Their quarry was one Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, who was transporting 700-800 pounds of marijuana into Texas.  With the pursuers closing in, Aldrete-Davila jumped from the van and made a run for it—only to meet Compean, who had anticipated the drug smuggler’s next move, at the levee.  An altercation ensued.  At one point, Aldrete-Davila raised his hands as if to surrender, but Compean slipped in the mud at the levee (perhaps while taking an unsuccessful swing at the suspect with the butt of a rifle or shotgun—a point prosecutors would make a lot of at the trial), and the suspect ran, heading back toward Mexico.

Ramos claimed that, as he approached, he saw Aldrete-Davila fleeing and Compean on the ground.  Shots were fired.  Compean fired 14 shots; Ramos fired one.  The officers claimed that, as he ran, Aldrete-Davila turned a number of times to his left—he was left-handed—and back toward the two Border Patrol agents (a claim substantiated by the entry wound in Aldrete-Davila’s buttocks, according to press accounts).  Both lawmen later testified that they thought Aldrete-Davila had a weapon: He appeared to have something in his left hand.  The two agents’ assumptions—that Aldrete-Davila was likely a drug smuggler, that he was violating the U.S. border, and that he was dangerous—seem reasonable.

Aldrete-Davila continued running and made it to a waiting van, which vanished across the border.  Meanwhile, calls for backup had brought seven other Border Patrol agents to the scene, including two supervisors.  Compean picked up his shell casings; Ramos did not pick up the casing from his single shot.  No report on the shooting was filed.  Neither Ramos nor Compean thought Aldrete-Davila had been hit, and Ramos subsequently stated that the supervisors on the scene knew shots had been fired.  He later said he thought that, under the circumstances, there was no need to file a formal report.

In light of the facts of the case, any violations of official procedure—not filing a shooting report, pursuing a suspect without first securing authorization from a supervisor—were largely technical.  Something that common sense dictates cannot always be secured on the fly.  As Ramos said, “What are we supposed to do?  Do they want us to catch them or not?”  Given subsequent events, that is indeed a good question.

Was deadly force necessary under the circumstances?  It’s difficult to say from the sketchy media accounts, but the supervisors on the scene did not raise any serious questions about the incident and understandably took the agents’ word for it when they said they believed they had been threatened by the suspect.  Ramos, once nominated as Border Patrol Agent of the Year, and Compean were apparently doing what they (and other agents) had been doing throughout their careers: walking a fine line on observing some very fuzzy—not to mention dubious—rules of engagement.  At worst, the agents seem to have been deserving of administrative penalties.

Enter the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General; DHS investigator Christopher Sanchez; and U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, Johnny Sutton—a long-time ally of George W. Bush.  Before being rewarded with his current post, Sutton had served as Governor Bush’s criminal-justice policy director (1995-2000) and worked on the Bush-Cheney transition team.  Two weeks after the incident, Sanchez received a phone call from a Border Patrol agent in Wilcox, Arizona.  The investigator’s mother-in-law was a friend of Aldrete-Davila’s mother and had heard of the shooting incident.  Aldrete-Davila’s mother told her that he had been wounded during the incident near Fabens, though subsequent ballistics reports were inconclusive, not positively linking the bullet to Ramos’ gun.

What followed is unclear—Sanchez reportedly called Aldrete-Davila and made inquiries about the incident.  The DHS would subsequently claim that Ramos and Compean had knowingly shot an unarmed man who was trying to surrender—and that they had confessed to it.  But a DHS report written by Sanchez and obtained by a California newspaper clearly indicates that the two agents had done nothing of the kind: They both had told investigators they thought the suspect had been armed.  Nevertheless, Sutton’s office filed charges against Ramos and Compean.  At the trial, prosecutors painted a picture of Compean and Ramos as brutal, incompetent, and thuggish men who had knowingly set out to gun down an unarmed man, destroyed a “crime scene” (Compean policing his shell casings), and obstructed justice.  The two men had supposedly sought to cover up an attempted murder—and violated the “civil rights” of an illegal-alien drug smuggler.  Meanwhile, the El Paso sheriff’s department stepped up patrols around Ramos’s home.  His family was being threatened by people they believed to be associates of Aldrete-Davila.

Sutton’s office threw the book at Compean and Ramos, citing a statute meant to stiffen penalties for violent criminals using a weapon in the commission of a crime, which carries a mandatory ten-year sentence.  Compean and Ramos were sentenced to 12- and 11-year prison terms, respectively.  And the star witness at the trial was none other than Aldrete-Davila himself, offered immunity by Sutton to testify against Compean and Ramos.  (Lately, Aldrete-Davila, who was treated at an Army medical center in El Paso, has been pursing a five-million-dollar lawsuit against the Border Patrol.)

Media reporting on the trial raised some important issues: The public outcry over the case against Ramos and Compean and the letters, e-mails, and faxes to the prosecutors and the judge may only have increased the determination of the court to put these men behind bars.  Three jurors subsequently stated that they were pressured by other jury members to convict; two later signed sworn statements testifying that they had been told a hung jury was not an option.  A motion to set aside the verdict in light of these revelations was denied.  And the court deemed certain key information, which might have changed the outcome of the verdict, inadmissible.  Such evidence included an indictment of Aldrete-Davila for drug smuggling in October 2005, months after the incident; Aldrete-Davila’s refusal to name his fellow smugglers—a violation of his immunity agreement; reports indicating the increasing violence along the border, including attacks on Border Patrol agents (Compean and Ramos had good reason to fear for their lives); and the fact that both men had clean records as Border Patrol agents.

A group of congressmen, including Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), and a number of Texas legislators have spearheaded efforts on behalf of the “Border Patrol Two,” including demands that the DHS reports be made public.  Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), after being stonewalled for months, saw no other option but to invoke the Freedom of Information Act so he could review the evidence for himself.  Grassroots organizations have called on President Bush to pardon Compean and Ramos, who began serving their sentences on January 17; the judge in the case had declared that the two men, who had served their country honorably for years, were a significant flight risk and could not be released pending appeal.

Since the sentencing of Ramos and Com-pean, Sutton’s office has successfully prosecuted Texas Deputy Sheriff Guillermo F. Hernandez for firing at an escaping vehicle loaded with illegal aliens, wounding one of the passengers.  The driver of the vehicle had reportedly tried to run Hernandez down.  Some of those same illegal aliens later testified against Hernandez.  Edwards County Sheriff Donald G. Letsinger defended Hernandez, saying that he had “followed the letter of the law” in the incident.  The state patterned its case against Hernandez after the prosecution of Compean and Ramos: The officer had “violated the civil rights” of criminal aliens.

In February, Ignacio Ramos was beaten senseless (he suffered a concussion, broken ribs, and other injuries) by a gang of illegal-alien inmates in a Mississippi prison.  The assailants, according to Ramos’s uncle, yelled “Maten a la Migra!” (“Kill the immigration agent!”) while beating him.  Ramos has reportedly been confined in isolation for his own protection.

If you want to know what is important to this regime—and our rulers in general—just observe how Compean and Ramos have been judicially crucified, their careers ruined, their families impoverished, and their lives endangered by our “compassionate conservative” Decider-in-Chief.  And make no mistake, it is the hand of the President that guides the mission to destroy them and discourage all who want to preserve our sovereignty and enforce our laws.  Our late friend Sam Francis informed us that the managerial state engages in anarcho-tyranny—trumping up “crimes” to enforce its will (in this case, open borders), while ignoring real criminals.  The Bush administration is sending a clear message to the Border Patrol, and to all other law-enforcement officers, that vigorous, aggressive protection of the U.S. borders will bring ruin, even prison.  Sutton and his inquisitors chose to pursue a noncrime, grant immunity to a criminal alien, and destroy two men who had carried out their duty under extremely difficult circumstances.  The hatred for everything patriotic and honorable evident in the determined pursuit of Compean and Ramos points to the rotten heart of our postnational elite.  For many Border Patrol veterans, this will likely be the final straw.  Like their colleagues in many urban police forces, they will give up, either resigning or simply avoiding potentially dangerous situations.  As honorable Americans, the rest of us owe nothing to the party of treason that rules what remains of this country.