(John Andrews in Rocky Mountain News, Nov. 11) What ever happened to investigative journalism? As a young White House staffer in 1974, I saw it bring down a president. In the past month, our lazy journalistic watchdogs couldn’t even sniff out the main story between two would-be governors. Granted, Bill Ritter’s victory over Bob Beauprez was so broad and deep that no great difference ultimately resulted from the October storm over plea bargains and leaks. Still that episode is worth reviewing, not as a rehash of the campaign, but as a case study in media attitudes.
You remember the endless stories about a federal agent with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) who allegedly gave Beauprez information on a criminal alien who had benefited from a plea bargain allowed by Ritter when he was district attorney. The media compliantly played up the Democrat’s attack on his Republican opponent for using the information in an ad. And they had a field day with the FBI leak investigation.
This was grossly hypocritical, because if the leak had come to them, they would have both used it and protected their source. It also revealed an odd disinterest in the information itself and its relevance to the former DA’s qualifications for higher office. Why weren’t the media energetically digging up this seamy stuff on their own?
Instead of joining one side’s “shoot the messenger” ploy against the other, a truly vigilant press would have been (and still should be) probing into what other skeletons are buried in the data on illegal alien crime. Try these questions for starters:
**What percentage of arrests for DUI offenses in 2005 were illegal aliens? Recall that Justin Goodman of Thornton was killed in 2004 on his motorcycle by an illegal alien driver who had six prior DUI and driving violations in Boulder and Adams counties. The man had never been referred to ICE for deportation.
** Does the Denver City Attorney’s standing policy of not asking questions in court about the legitimacy of Mexican driver's licenses presented by defendants have any consequences for the law-abiding citizens of Denver? Recall that the man who killed police officer Donnie Young had used an invalid Mexican driver's license to avoid jail in Denver municipal court only three weeks before.
** Why is it that a full year after the Colorado Attorney General stated that one-quarter of Colorado's outstanding fugitive homicide warrants are for people who have fled to Mexico, no newspaper has asked how many of the individuals named in the warrants were illegal aliens with prior arrests? (In Los Angeles County, there are over 400 such fugitive warrants.)
** How are sanctuary cities like Durango, Boulder and Denver responding to SB 90, the new state law passed in 2006 to outlaw sanctuary cities? What is ICE doing to respond to SB 90?
** If Denver received federal reimbursement for the incarceration of over 1100 illegal aliens in 2004, why were only 175 deported when they finished their terms? What subsequent crimes did the other 925 criminal aliens commit?
**After the murder of Officer Donnie Young in May 2005, the Denver ICE office renewed its routine surveys of the Denver jail population to identify illegal aliens subject to deportation. How many criminal aliens have actually been deported out of the Denver jail since then, compared to prior years when such checks were not being made?
** Nationally there are over 100,000 criminal aliens being sought by ICE "fugitive teams." How many of these criminals are believed to be in Colorado, and how many full-time ICE agents are looking for them?
Investigative journalism on these questions would require the cooperation of law enforcement, it’s true. But reporters routinely tap those sources (and protect their identities) when pursuing a story. After all, "the public has a right to know."
Then don’t we also have a right to know the criminal histories of illegal aliens, the consequences of plea bargaining, and the social cost of the special status afforded illegals by the sanctuary policies in Denver and other cities?