Pardon Pool

The folks at ProPublica speculate on who Bush will pardon on the way out. Michael Milken and Scooter Libby top the handicapping. They do not touch on the possibility of a blanket pardon.

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Newsweek: Bush Might Be Reluctant To Pardon

Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball play the on-one-hand, on-the-other hand game regarding speculation about pardons:

Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, whose prison sentence for lying in the CIA leak case was commuted by Bush last year, has not submitted a pardon request to Justice. But speculation is rampant that Libby’s allies will press Bush for one. There is also talk that Bush will be asked to grant prospective pardons for CIA officers and others who played a part in the use of “enhanced interrogation” techniques in the war on terror. According to one legal source, who asked not to be identified because of the issue’s sensitive nature, White House counsel Fred Fielding has warned applicants the president is likely to frown on “political pardons.” But another Washington lawyer, who also asked not to be identified because he represents a pardon applicant, said Bush might be more open to considering pardons for CIA officers because they were executing his policies.

Turley on Blanket Pardons

Law prof Jonathan Turley, I see from my referrer log, agrees with me that a blanket pardon for Bush administration officials involved in torture is a Constitutionally dubious idea:

A “blanket pardon” would raise serious constitutional and criminal questions, though there is some precedent in the Kennedy and Carter administrations. A traditional pardon is a public document naming individuals who are pardoned for specific crimes. One possibility being discussed is the use of a blanket pardon that would not individually name people but cover anyone associated with the unlawful programs. It would be a terrible precedent, if upheld. A president could pardon the world at the end of an Administration — gutting any accountability for criminal acts.

One of his commenters suggests this needs to be addressed through a Constitutional amendment:

I have thought about this since the Scooter Libby disaster, and would propose one that would be something like “A president may not pardon or commute any one in his/her administration for crimes committed during the administration.”

I agree — and think a blanket pardon would touch off a massive, world-wide controversy with unforeseen political costs for the US. It would invite third-country prosecutions of the Pinochet variety.