It is amazing to me that President Trump has pardoned some people who he considered heroic while continuing to leave Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, two genuine heroes, in the lurch. Assange, of course, is getting the worst of it, given the brutal conditions under which U.S. and British officials have incarcerated him in England. But it still can’t be a bundle of joy for Snowden to be living in Russia, given the societal jail-like environment that comes with living under the Russian regime.
Consider Trump’s pardons of two former Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Campean. They were chasing an undocumented immigrant who was fleeing back to Mexico. The best account of what happened was detailed in a Texas Monthly article entitled “Badges of Dishonor.”
When the immigrant, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, held his hands up and tried to surrender, Campean swung at him with the butt of his gun. Aldrete-Davila then ran and both agents began firing at him. A bullet hit him in the buttock but he was able to make it back to Mexico.
The two agents then did their best to cover up their actions. They retrieved their shell casings and threw them into a ditch. When later investigated, they said that they had seen a shiny object in the victim’s hand and thought it was a gun. In their later criminal prosecution for assault, a federal jury concluded they were lying and convicted them.
One of the first things I learned as a kid from watching westerns on television was that you never shoot someone in the back. Doing that is about as cowardly and shameful as you can get.
But not according to Trump as well as a coterie of his conservative cohorts, They consider Ramos and Campean to be real heroes for “defending our border.” They point out that Aldrete-Davila’s vehicle contained 700 pounds of marijuana, as if furnishing pot to Americans who wish to smoke it is some sort of horrible offense. Never mind, also, that at the time they were firing their guns at Aldrete Davila’s back, they didn’t know about the pot.
Trump also pardoned another former Border Patrol agent, a man named Gary Brugman. He got convicted for brutally assaulting undocumented immigrants after they were already in captivity and behaving peacefully.
Trump also pardoned Joe Arpaio, the anti-immigrant crusading former Arizona sheriff who was convicted of contempt for refusing to comply with a court order to cease racial-profiling.
He also pardoned Blackwater personnel who were convicted of killing innocent Iraqis.
Now compare those people to Assange and Snowden, two men who have risked their lives, liberty, and well-being to disclose the truth about evil and immoral actions of the U.S. national-security establishment. That’s why the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA are going after them with vengeance — because they told the truth about the U.S. government.
Will Trump pardon these two genuine heroes? He might yet surprise me, but I doubt it because we can see from the people he has already pardoned that his values are warped and perverted. But he still has two weeks in which to do one right thing before he exits the White House.