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July 7, 2007

Comparing Bush's own records on clemency

Now available here is Adam Liptak's Sunday New York Times piece entitled "For Libby, Bush Seemed to Alter His Texas Policy."  Here is how it starts:

Until he commuted the 30-month prison sentence of I. Lewis Libby Jr. on Monday, President Bush had said almost nothing about his philosophy in granting clemency while at the White House.  As governor of Texas, though, Mr. Bush discussed and applied a consistent and narrow standard when deciding whether to issue pardons and commutations.  And that standard appears to be at odds with his decision in the Libby case.

Mr. Bush explained his clemency philosophy in Texas in his 1999 memoir, "A Charge to Keep."  "In every case," he wrote, "I would ask: Is there any doubt about this individual’s guilt or innocence? And, have the courts had ample opportunity to review all the legal issues in this case?"

In Mr. Libby's case, Mr. Bush expressed no doubts about his guilt.  He said he respected the jury's verdict, and he did not pardon Mr. Libby, leaving him a convicted felon. And Mr. Bush acted before the courts had completed their review of his appeal.

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July 7, 2007 at 03:51 PM | Permalink


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Although,I was not cited in it :-( Adam's piece really is one of the best written in this cycle. Even with the long-term causes, the string of governors that have entered the White House in recent years has been a major short-term cause of the decline in the use of executive clemency. Former governors use the pardon power much less, on average, than those who come to the Office without such experiece. In part, this is because the exercise of clemency at the state level receives much greater attention than it does at the federal level.

Bush certainly received his fair share of attention as governor Texas. His clemency record there includes: record low use of the power and several public statements justifying his "policy," a repeat offender, accusations of racism by a state legislator, the Tucker execution, pardon for an offense he once commited as a college student and pardon of the member of a family that donated generously to the Republican Party.

So, he steps into the presidency and the first thing on him is "Should we revoke the Marc Rich pardon?"

Posted by: PSRuckman | Jul 7, 2007 4:43:18 PM

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