Video: Glenn talks with the wives of Compean and Ramos


Glenn Beck talks to the wives of Compean and Ramos on Fox News. Watch Glenn Beck every weeknight at 5pm ET.

Bush commutes border patrol agents' sentences

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush, in a final act of clemency, commuted the prison sentences of two U.S. Border Patrol agents but steered clear of high-profile pardons for former vice presidential aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby and others.

Bush commuted the 11-year prison sentence of Ignacio Ramos and the 12-year sentence of Jose Alonso Compean, who were tried for shooting an unarmed Mexican drug smuggler in the buttocks in a case in Texas that drew widespread attention.

Their 2006 conviction drew an outcry from supporters who said the agents had been treated too harshly and were just doing their jobs. Under the commutation, their prison sentences will expire on March 20.

"He (Bush) believes that the length of the sentence and the conditions of their confinement were too harsh, they suffered enough for their crimes," a White House official said on condition of anonymity.

"He does believe that both men received a fair trial and a just verdict," the official said.

Mexico criticized the decision and said Bush was pressured by anti-immigrant groups.

"We think this sends a bad message," Carlos Rico, deputy foreign minister for North America, told a news conference.

It was expected to be Bush's last act of clemency before his presidency ends at noon (1700 GMT) on Tuesday when Barack Obama takes office.

The two commutations were in marked contrast to predecessor Bill Clinton, who issued a flurry of 140 pardons on his last day as president.

Controversy still reverberates over Clinton's last-minute pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose ex-wife was a major Democratic donor.

Obama's choice for attorney general, Eric Holder, faced questions about the Rich pardon during confirmation hearings and said he erred in supporting the 2001 pardon when he was Clinton's deputy attorney general.

The Justice Department said Clinton granted 459 clemency petitions and President Ronald Reagan granted 406 during their times in office.

NO PARDON FOR STEVENS

Bush has been more tight-fisted with pardons, having issued 189 pardons and 11 commutations of sentences during his eight years in office, according to the White House. None has generated the controversy of Clinton's pardons.

Perhaps more notable than the commutations were the pardons not issued on the eve of the presidential transfer of power.

No pardon was granted for Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff who was convicted of lying to a grand jury investigating the leaked identification of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Bush commuted Libby's 30-month sentence in 2007.

Also omitted was former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who is fighting his October 27 conviction for failing to report significant gifts on his financial disclosure forms. Stevens, a Republican, lost his re-election race in November, and has accused federal investigators of misconduct in his case.

Bernard Ebbers, the former WorldCom chief executive who was convicted of securities fraud, also did not receive a pardon.

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This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!