Conservatives Want Bush to Issue "Pre-Emptive Pardons" to Officials Involved in Illegal Programs
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The New York Times reported this weekend that “[f]elons are asking President Bush for pardons and commutations at historic levels as he nears his final months in office, a time when many other presidents have granted a flurry of clemency requests.” However the Times noted that despite commuting Scooter Libby’s prison sentence, applicants “should expect to be disappointed” because Bush “has made little use of his clemency power” compared to past presidents.
Except perhaps if you participated in any illegal activity involving the Bush administration’s controversial counterterrorism programs. According to the Times, “several members of the conservative legal community” in Washington D.C. are urging Bush to issue “pre-emptive pardons” to those involved so as to “not be exposed even to the risk of an investigation and expensive legal bills”:
Such a pardon would reduce the risk that a future administration might undertake a criminal investigation of operatives or policy makers involved in programs that administration lawyers have said were legal but that critics say violated laws regarding torture and surveillance.
Some legal analysts said Mr. Bush might be reluctant to issue such pardons because they could be construed as an implicit admission of guilt. […]