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Mirror of Justice
I disagree strongly with many of the rabidly anti-immigration proposals of Mark Krikorian, a National Review Online contributor and executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, but I'm sure he's generally a decent person. That's why I hope that he will quickly reconsider something he wrote this morning at NRO.
In a post this morning on Pardon Prospects, Krikorian expressed support for pardons or commutations for Nacho Ramos and Jose Compean, the two Border Patrol agents who shot a man in the back, while he was fleeing from them, then lied, continuously and repeatedly, to their superiors and other investigators in order to cover up their crime. Krikorian, in his initial post, made the point if President Bush didn't pardon the two men (or at least commute their sentences), he would "present Obama with a golden opportunity to build up more political capital, and short-circuit populist opposition, by springing these men from prison on his first day in office."
But then Krikorian lands himself in hot water. Certainly people differ as to just how atrocious the actions of Ramos and Compean were. Me, I think shooting someone in the back and lying about it to the police is a really bad thing, no matter whether the guy they shot was a drug dealer or not (he was). We put a lot of power in the hands of our police, and when they abuse it, truly abuse it, they should be harshly punished. But nobody, certainly no conservative, should be recommending that people be pardoned or released from jail just because of the politics of it. Sadly, that's exactly what Krikorian appears to advocate.
Responding to Miller's note, Krikorian assured us that he didn't consider Ramos and Compean heroes, because they broke rules "and probably laws" (a jury of 12 Texans convicted them, Mark, and the 5th Circuit just denied their appeal... they definitely broke laws, it's official). He says he wasn't talking about the factual merits of a pardon or commutation, just suggesting that President Bush should act to prevent President Obama from having an opportunity for a political windfall. He said:
The truth or falsity isn't the issue — rather the enormous political utility of commuting Ramos and Compean's sentences. Obama'd be stupid not to seize the opportunity, if it presents itself.
Truth and falsity are ALWAYS the issue, most especially in cases involving crimes and punishment. Nobody should be railroaded in a prosecution for political purposes, and nobody should be freed to score political points. It's reprehensible for a responsible commentator to call for a President to ignore truth and falsity in making a decision to undo a jury's verdict of criminal guilt or the sentence established by law for the crimes committed.
If Krikorian believes a commutation to be justified, he certainly should make the case for it. But that case should be centered on the facts and the law and any relevant policy issues. It must begin with the facts found by the jury regarding the agents' criminal conduct. And it must be true. It should NEVER be about the politics of it all. Politics of that sort, divorced from truth and falsity, has no role to play in decisions involving crime and punishment.
Despite my disagreements with him over immigration issues, I'm certain Mark Krikorian is generally a reasonable, thinking person. I hope he promptly retracts his statement that truth and falsity are not and should not be the issue with a pardon or commutation.