« Notable US Attorney transitions and the Obama administration | Main | Important new paper on modern criminal procedure »

November 17, 2008

"Begging Bush's Pardon"

The title of this post is the title of this blog entry by Dan Froomkin over at the Washington Post.  Here is how he invites folks to play a classic lame-duck parlor game:

Who will President Bush pardon on his way out the door?  Who should he pardon?  Who shouldn't he pardon?  And how likely is he to issue some sort of blanket pardon covering officials in his own administration for their conduct related to interrogation of terror suspects, civil liberties violations, and the like?  Mulling these questions has deservedly become a Washington parlor games.  So come into my parlor and share your thoughts.

Of course, readers should feel free to play this game via the comments here.  (In addition, I am interested if any readers live in a house with a parlor that is still used for playing game.  My house is parlor-free, though we play a lot of games in other rooms.  I would guess that the White House and more than a few other houses in DC still have parlors.  But are people really sitting in these rooms debating who President Bush might still pardon?)

As this quadrennial (or bi-quadrennial) pardon speculation begins to heat up, Pardon Power is the place to go on a regular basis for news and notes.  For example, just up there today are these new posts of note:

November 17, 2008 at 04:14 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "Begging Bush's Pardon":


Prez Bush should pardon Border Agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos, and Leonard Peltier a Native American whose been incarcerated for 30 years or more. Enough. If these 3 are not pardoned, then how is the United States any different from other countries in the world? Thanks for the opportunity to have my say on the matter..:)

I'm a Joe Blow who blogs.

Posted by: commontater | Nov 17, 2008 4:41:23 PM

Agree border agents should be pardoned but Bush has been very stingy with his pardons. I hope Obama is more compassionate with his pardon powers.

Posted by: anon | Nov 17, 2008 8:18:40 PM

The real question is will Obama pardon Bush? I strongly believe that he should, it would be a brilliant thing for him to do, and we all know Bush is never actually going to be put on trial. Obama should take the high road while simultaneously hammering the final nail in the coffin of Bush's legacy. What's Bush gonna do, refuse to accept the pardon?

Posted by: BruceM | Nov 18, 2008 4:11:07 AM

If the border agents should be pardoned (as I believe they should), there are thousands before them that also must be pardoned. But that will never happen. The border agents are cops, and because they are cops and the victims were lawbreakers, those who normally decry the "softness" of criminal justice and the supposed lack of concern for victims (the Libby apologists; oh where have you been, Mr. Otis?), twist and turn in an attempt to explain away their hypocrisy.

Posted by: John | Nov 18, 2008 1:12:46 PM

Dirty cops are the last people who should be pardoned. As far as I can tell, the only people clamoring for the "border agents" to be pardoned are those who are rabidly anti-mexican, anti-immigration, who see the border agents shooting and killing those sneaky mexicans in their wet backs as simply "doing their job" for which they should be rewarded, not punished. You law and order types love to invoke the solemn decision of the jury, so I'll throw it right back at ya - a jury composed of hard-working, average joe american citizens convicted the border agents. Who are you to decide that the jury was wrong?

Pardons should be used to correct injustices, not merely jury verdicts with which you disagree (especially because you hate the victim and agree with the crime).

Posted by: BruceM | Nov 18, 2008 11:38:07 PM

I start with the premise that pardons are good for society and indeed the world as a whole. They make for rich history and are the stuff of fables. In a Democracy such as ours, we put some schmuck into high office--Governor, President, and out west, Indian Chief. We annoit him/her with powers ususally not conferred outside of the Brazilian rainforest or monarchies. The American origin is of course rooted in practices of the Hun which carried over into England. Such a noble thing for a young King to pardon miscreants and blood thirsty pirates. Once pardoned they become great citizens and Dukes and Earls. Article I, Section 2 of our Constitution puts the pardon power squarely in the hands of the President. This power is right in there with Commander in Chief of all the Army, Navy and state militias in time of war; right after having the right to call his principle ministers to account by requiring their opinions in writing, and here it is: "...and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." Ah, that little limitation at the end.

In our current context we cannot expect much of this sitting lame duck. When he was Governor of the Great State of Texas, not one single prisoner facing murder at the hands of the state (the euphemism is "execution") was reprieved, commuted or pardoned. The "power" (I will employ the term used by our National Constitution above) to let one human being continue to claim air in his/her lungs for a few more paltry years was not exercised. What was the death toll at this man's hands? Texans--chime in. His reprieves and pardons have been scant as President, Commander in Chief and princely patron of the Rose Garden. Which brings to the fore the one person whom he can pardon who can and will make a difference strategically-- for pardons in the next Presidency. The man's name is Scooter Libby--well, that's his prep school name.

Those of you with a memory-- I know, scant and none-- might recall the role of the Scooter at the close of the Clinton Presidency. The Scooter, for a slight and meagre fee, pleaded, on his hands and knees in the Rose Garden, within sight of the White House Guard, before the President and Commander in Chief (also Chief Patron of the Rose Garden), and begged and cajoled him to exercise the power of pardon for the poor, slightly abused and misunderstood, human being bearing the name Marc Rich. "You may rise, Mr. Scooter--Pardon Granted", he purred in a most melodious voice--slightly tinged with a Hope (as in Hope, Arkansas) accent. "Scribe!", the President bellowed. Pen and ink were born forth and the scribe reduced the document to typewritten format (New Times Roman font 12) and the President signed.

The words not quite overheard by the White House Guard on that cold December night in the Rose Garden--out by the trees and beyond earshot-- will never be known. Until the Scooter is pardoned, we will never know. We need to know.
If pardoned he can freely talk. For shortly after leaving the Oval Office and retiring into a life of private public fundraising on behalf of a Presidential Library and a world Founation where Saudi Sheiks and their Harems could be courted, the Rich fellow donated a sum of money to the man who had shouted "Scribe" on that cold night in December in the back end of the Rose Garden.

Scooter's present crimes are small. They have something to do with revealing the identify of a certain national security agent who happened to be employeed by the CIA and who really only got out of her office on overseas assignments to have lunch with small profile folks at say the Hilton Hotel Sunday Buffet at El Tahir Sqaure in Caior, Egypt to discuss things like nuclear products. Our own press has never been mindful of the fate of those lunch goers who might have shared Sunday Brunch with this nice blond American representative of what was that company? Bell Helicopter? No, Scooter's participation in the "outing" of Ms. Plame was of the sort of prep school "no foul" genre. Or, as the Kennedy's say, "Whats the problem, nobody drowned."

I for one look forward to the proliferation of the exercise fo the pardon power. It makes for great stories and fables which can be amplified and enhanced. If Scooter is pardoned he can go back to the practice of law. We all know that the practice of law includes quiet cajoling on cold nights at the back of the Rose Garden. The Scooter, and others of prep school backgrounds, will facilitate all those things briefly mentioned in Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution--treason, bribery and other high crmes and misdemeanors. We are nigh on the month of December-- the twelvth month in the eighth year of a sitting lame duck President. The scribe is tuning up his word processor and HP printer and has a fistful of Bic Pens in his/her shirt pocket. The White House Guards are tuning up their ears. The roses look healthy. A new supplicant with a prep school name will appear. "Please Mr. President, have pitty on the working man!" "Millions for defense, and not one cent in tribute", the President will bellow. And, then the whispering will resume. The White House Guard will hear one word: "Scribe!"

Posted by: mbp | Nov 19, 2008 4:00:09 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB