By Joe Guzzardi
October 8, 2012
U.S. Border Patrol agent Nicholas Ivie’s tragic shooting death last week near Naco, Arizona is the 26th such murder since 2002. Ivie was shot after he and two other agents responded to an alarm triggered by a sensor aimed at detecting smugglers and aliens. One of the other agents was wounded; the third, uninjured.
Three days after the incident, the Federal Bureau of Investigation declared Ivie’s death likely resulted from friendly fire. Skeptics noted that 72 hours may be insufficient time to mount a comprehensive investigation that would include ballistics tests and witness’ testimonies.
The question is, are the friendly fire charges an election year cover up? Some speculate that a whitewash would minimize media coverage of the bitter border war between Mexican drug lords and U.S. enforcement officers doing their job with little Washington D.C. help.
Reviewing U.S. border security policy and its documented failure to support field agents, some of whom, like Ivie, have lost their lives, the friendly fire allegations are hard to swallow. Neither George McCubbin, president of the National Border Patrol Council nor Kent Lundgren, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, have heard of previous friendly fire incidents. In breaking news that adds credibility to McCubbin and Lundgren’s statements, Reuters has reported that Mexican police have captured two suspects whose involvement is not yet clear.
In a bitter irony, Ivie’s death occurred at the recently renamed Brian Terry Station. Terry died in a 2010 border shootout that has become infamous as part of the “Fast and Furious” operation. Ongoing House Oversight Committee investigations are probing the possibility that the government provided guns—possibly used to kill Terry—to known Mexican criminals.
To understand the depth of federal indifference to at-risk border agents and the government’s apparent preference of catering to Mexican interests, think back to the incredible 2006 Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean case. While patrolling the border, the agents stopped known drug deal Osvaldo Aldrete Davila in his van which contained 743 pounds of marijuana. When Davila fled, Ramos shot and wounded him in the buttocks.
Davila then filed a complaint against the agents claiming his civil rights had been violated. In exchange for his testimony against Ramos and Compean, Davila was granted multiple border passes to testify and received immunity. The stunning court decision found the agents guilty and sentenced them to 12 and 11 years, respectively, in a federal penitentiary. In 2009 President George W. Bush, under pressure, pardoned Ramos and Compean.
Last March, during one of the administration’s multiple amnesty attempts, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano declared that the border is safer than ever. Napolitano was wrong then and is still wrong today.
What happens in Cochise County, which includes Naco, is important to all Americans in the fight to retain national sovereignty. Arizona governor Jan Brewer expressed indignation at the Obama administration’s refusal to provide border security and for allowing a political stalemate over illegal immigration. The consequence, as Brewer described it, allows “evil” to kill officers and puts all border patrol agents in harm’s way.
Washington has offered its usual token lip service. Napolitano flew to Naco to offer the Ivie family her condolences which doubtless provided them cold comfort. Ivie leaves a wife and two daughters, age one and four.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]