Rohrabacher (R - CA) gets pissed off

A policy that prevents Border Patrol agents from shooting at suspects unless they are directly threatened with a weapon is “about as nonsensical as anything I’ve ever seen in my 30 or 40 years of public awareness,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach said last week.

Rohrabacher has been calling on President Bush to pardon two Border Patrol agents who were convicted earlier this year after shooting a drug smuggler who had illegally entered the country with a van full of marijuana.

He upped the ante last week, holding a news conference in Santa Ana with one of the agents, the same day he received a letter from federal officials suggesting the agents apply for a pardon.

The agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean, were sentenced in October for assault with a deadly weapon, a civil rights violation and other charges.

The incident, which has been alternately described as shooting a man in the buttocks as he ran away and subduing a potentially armed criminal who disobeyed law enforcement, was a controversial one, but Rohrabacher is not one to shy away from controversy.

He said he jumped into the issue because the regulations that control Border Patrol agents’ behavior affect how they can do their jobs, and this case didn’t make sense to him.

“This is about the stupidest, most nonsensical policy that I’ve ever seen,” he said. “How can you say to the Border Patrol that they can’t use their weapons unless somebody is about to shoot them? Their only recourse will be to wrestle someone to the ground. Why would someone stop if he [the agent] can’t use his weapon?”

Rohrabacher said since the drug smuggler escaped at the time, the only evidence that he wasn’t armed is his word, and he had thrown one of the agents to the ground as they chased him.

The congressman planned to apply for pardons for the agents, and he said if Bush doesn’t approve them, he will have shown himself to be “a heartless person and someone who has basically stupid policies.”

The agents are set to begin serving prison terms in January.

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