Pardon me

PARDON ME…. Newsweek‘s Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball recently noted how “stingy” Bush has been on presidential pardons. It’s true, by historical standards, this president hasn’t exactly been a “compassionate” conservative when it comes to clemency.

As his presidency winds down, however, Bush is exercising the power a bit.

Before leaving for the holidays, President Bush on Tuesday commuted one prison sentence and granted 19 pardons, including one to a man who helped the Jewish resistance in the 1940s.

With this latest batch, which includes forgiveness for convictions ranging from gun and drug violations to bank and mail fraud, Bush has granted a total of 191 pardons and nine commutations. That’s fewer than half as many as Presidents Clinton or Reagan issued during their two terms.

Today’s batch didn’t include any of the “famous” people who are seeking presidential pardons, but White House spokesperson Tony Fratto suggested this morning that there will be more pardons issued before Bush leaves office. Fratto told reporters the president has been “considering” additional clemency requests, adding, “[W]e should have something soon on clemency petitions.”

ProPublica‘s Dafna Linzer had a good item recently about what to look out for during Bush’s last month, breaking down convicts by category and rating the likelihood of presidential clemency on a scale of zero to four “Get of Jail Free” cards. Using Linzer’s guide, pay careful attention in the coming weeks to the fate of Texas Border Patrol guards Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, Libby, New England phone-jammer James Tobin, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, and Sen. Ted Stevens. Also keep an eye on interrogation officials who’ve used administration-endorsed torture techniques.

It’s a guessing game, of course, but I’d wager that Libby will get a pardon. I’d also bet that Bush chooses Christmas Eve for his most controversial pardon decisions — it’d be keeping with family history.

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