No More Pardons?
From the NYT:
“President Bush on Monday commuted the sentences of two former Border Patrol agents imprisoned for shooting a Mexican drug smuggler, but he was preparing to leave office without granting clemency to any better-known figures or government officials who could face liability over administration policies. (…)
A senior White House official said that the commutations announced on Monday would be Mr. Bush’s last acts of clemency before he leaves office.
There had been speculation that Mr. Bush might act in a number of high-profile cases, including those of I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, and the financier Michael R. Milken, both of whom were convicted on felony charges.
Mr. Bush was also said to have been considering pre-emptive action that could have shielded Alberto R. Gonzales, the former attorney general, and other government officials or intelligence officers who could face legal liability over their roles in interrogations, surveillance or other Bush administration policies.
Hundreds of other defendants convicted of garden-variety crimes have petitioned for leniency, seeking to shorten prison sentences their advocates see as excessive. But in the end, Mr. Bush used his clemency power to aid only Mr. Ramos and Mr. Compean. He leaves office having granted 200 pardons and commutations, the fewest of any two-term president in modern times.
“I was shocked when I heard this was the only one,” said Margaret Colgate Love, a former Justice Department pardon lawyer who represents about 20 imprisoned clients who were seeking clemency. “There are a lot of disappointed lawyers in this town today.””
Atrios thinks that if Bush does not pardon any members of his administration, it’s because “Pardoning the people below him would remove any 5th amendment reasons to not testify, and Bush has never shown much sign of giving a sh*t about other people.” (Not Atrios’ asterisk.) Myself, I suspect it has more to do with the fact that pardoning anyone in his administration would involve explicitly recognizing that they might require pardons. Bush is not big on admitting that sort of thing.
Whatever the reason, though, I’m glad.