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Rep. pushes revisit to case

Dana Rohrabacher says potential attorney general should take independent look at prosecution of Border Patrol agents.

October 17, 2007|By Alicia Robinson

Huntington Beach Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has come up with a new litmus test for the next attorney general: Will he reopen the cases of two jailed Border Patrol agents?

Rohrabacher on Tuesday announced he and 45 other members of Congress are sending a letter to retired Judge Michael Mukasey, President Bush’s attorney general nominee, asking him to conduct “a fair and unbiased review” of how the agents’ prosecution was handled.

In a phone interview, Rohrabacher said if Mukasey won’t look at the case, he’s not fit to be attorney general.

The agents’ October 2006 conviction for wounding a Mexican drug smuggler in a shooting is an issue Rohrabacher has worked for months to overturn, seeking a presidential pardon and criticizing the White House for its failure to respond.

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Border agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean were convicted of shooting the drug smuggler as he fled, then destroying the crime scene and filing a false report.

Rohrabacher said the agents were doing their job and should not have been punished, and he said U.S. attorney Johnny Sutton, who prosecuted the case, lied to the jury to get a conviction. Sutton has said the congressman mischaracterized the case.

If Mukasey is confirmed by the Senate, Rohrabacher wants him to review the decision to prosecute and ultimately have the agents released from prison, pending a full investigation of their cases or their appeals. The men have been kept in solitary confinement “in conditions worse than those enjoyed by suspected terrorists” at Guantanamo Bay, Rohrabacher wrote to Mukasey.

“Most people think there were violations of the rules by the prosecutors, like keeping information from the jury, which would reverse the decision of the court,” Rohrabacher said. “This whole thing was brought on by having an attorney general who was too close to the president. ... This new attorney general who is supposedly independent of the president should take an independent look.”

Attempts to reach Mukasey for comment were unsuccessful.

His Senate confirmation hearings are scheduled to begin today.


ALICIA ROBINSON may be reached at (714) 966-4626 or at alicia.robinson@latimes.com.

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