]Bush has started issuing his exit pardons. Here’s the list of 14 pardons and two commutations. I confess, I don’t know who any of these people are. On the surface it doesn’t look great. It includes several drug dealers. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with pardoning drug dealers, but I’m surprised to see Bush do it. The list also includes thieves, embezzlers, some kind of hazardous waste offense, a wildlife offense and some other fairly minor looking offenses. No murderers on the list (some thought Bush might pardon those border guards who murdered an immigrant and then tried to cover it up – those guys are heroes to the Freeper types). There is also speculation that Bush may preemptively pardon the Gitmo interrogators so that they can’t be tried for torture
Maybe we’ll see some bombshells when we get closer to the transition. I think some of the most controversial exit pardons tend to come right in the last couple of days.
Anyway, as much as I’d like to cluck and wax indignant about some of the names on this list, I have to admit I don’t know anything about them and there may be stories behind some of these decisions which could make them perfectly reasonable.
So what do people think about the list so far? Any further information about the names would also be highly appreciated.
I was curious about the hazardous waste thing, so I googled it. Link for your convenience. Seems he was a truck driver who was convicted of hauling creosote on behalf of his employer. He served his sentence long ago, and the pardon just wipes his conviction off the books. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything objectionable about that one.
It’s become somewhat SOP for Presidents to issue a round of pardons on their way out the door. Clinton issued his most controversial pardons (e.g. Marc Rich) on his last day of office. GHWB issued his Iran-Contra pardons on the Christmas Eve before he left. Ronald Reagan, If I recall correctly, pardoned one person on his way out the door – George Steinbrenner (for having made illegal contributions to Nixon).
Most of the pardons are like that…they’re pardons of people who have already served their sentences. Obie Helton, for instance, had been convicted in 1983 and sentenced to 2 years probation. Andrew Harley had been court martialed in 1985. Ronald Mohrhoff had been convicted in 1984 and sentenced to one year in prison and 2 years probation.
Jimmy Harris, whose sentence was commuted, was a Detroit policeman who protected drug dealers. He’s seriously ill with diabetes.
The only “notable” pardon there was the commutation of John E. Forte, who was serving a 14 year sentence for aiding and abetting possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Forte is a Grammy award winning rapper.
If I were President, I’d issue a blanket pardon on all non-violent drug offenders immediately after getting in for my second term, and continue to pardon every non-violent drug offender convicted after that.
In effect, a sufficiently corrupt President seems to be immune from ANY legal consequences for his actions. He can literally get away with murder. All he has to do is scribble a pardon on a cocktail napkin, which is always going to be quicker than the time it takes for Congress voting to impeach.
That’s the theory. He could still be subsequently impeached and removed from power, of course, and Congress might be able to find away to impose other sanctions, but from what I’ve read, the Constitution does seem to allow a POTUS to theoretically pardon himself for murder as long as he moves quickly enough.
I think it raises another question. Could a VP kill the sitting POTUS, then pardon himself as soon as he gets sworn in?