A rapper serving a lengthy prison sentence for smuggling cocaine, an embezzler and a tax evader are among those thankful for presidential pardons and commutations this week while a pair of U.S. Border Patrol agents spend another Thanksgiving in prison for intercepting an illegal immigrant drug smuggler.
Once again President George W. Bush has pardoned or reduced the sentences of serious criminals while the veteran federal agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compeanrot in jail for doing their job. The men intercepted a van loaded with drugs while guarding the Mexican border near El Paso in 2005. The admitted drug smuggler, an illegal alien named Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, tried to flee and one of the agents shot him in the buttocks though he still got away.
Ramos and Compean were subsequently convicted on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm and violating the drug smuggler's civil rights. The agents were sentenced to 11 and 12-year prison terms, outraging dozens of lawmakers from both parties who have pushed for pardons.
This week marks the second time that Bush announces a list of pardons and commutations that, incredibly enough, excludes the agents. Last year the list featured 14 serious criminals, among them several drug dealers and a man convicted for bombing a coal mine.
An additional 14 convicts received the coveted presidential pardons and commutations this week, just in time to spend Thanksgiving at home with family. Among them is a rap artist serving a 14-year prison sentence after getting busted at Newark International Airport with a briefcase containing $1.4 million worth of cocaine.
Also off the hook is an income tax evader, a bank embezzler, a couple of unrelated men convicted for distribution of marijuana and cocaine and a woman who aided and abetted theft of government property. The entire list is available from the Justice Department.