President Bush pardoned 14 individuals, and commuted the sentences of two others, today, including hip hop artist John Forte. Other prominent pardon seekers, including Michael Milken, and others seeking to have their sentences commuted, such as former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) and former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards (D-LA), are still waiting.
President Bush has been relatively restrained in his use of the pardon power during his presidency. As the Washington Post reports:
The president has used his broad pardon powers rarely during seven years in office, granting 157 pardons out of 2,064 petitions, and only six of 7,707 requests for commutations, according to an analysis by former Justice Department lawyer Margaret C. Love.Nonetheless, many expect he will preemptively pardon past and present government attorneys who authorized the use of coercive interrogation techniques or other, potentially unlawful, counter-terror policies. Again from the Post:
In the background of the debate is how, if at all, Bush will respond to pressure from left-leaning interest groups and congressional Democrats, who are calling for criminal investigations of former administration lawyers and members of the intelligence community who eavesdropped on Americans without warrants and used harsh interrogation tactics against terrorism suspects.
President Abraham Lincoln bestowed such blanket amnesty on soldiers who took part in the Civil War, and President Jimmy Carter took similar action for people who resisted fighting in the Vietnam War between 1964 and 1973. But scholars disagree about whether the current president could preemptively pardon members of the intelligence community without naming them and specifying the conduct for which they would receive amnesty.