November 25th, 2008
05:37 AM ET
9 years ago

President pardons 14, commutes sentences of two others

President Bush may issue more pardons before his term ends.

President Bush may issue more pardons before his term ends.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Who might receive the ultimate in White House holiday gifts - a presidential grant of clemency - is one of the hottest Washington guessing games today.

The wait for 16 applicants is over. Fourteen people received a pardon from President George Bush and the sentences of two others were commuted, the Justice Department announced Monday. A commutation reduces a convict's prison term, but the conviction remains on the person's record.

Among those receiving commutations was rap singer John Forte, who was charged with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. He was sentenced to 168 months in prison and five years supervised release. His prison term will now end on Dec. 22 of this year, and his release will still be supervised.

Those receiving pardons were not nationally-known and included persons convicted of marijuana use, unauthorized acquisition of food stamps and bank embezzlement.

Still unknown is how many more pardons and commutations the President may grant before he leaves office.

"The President carefully considered recommendations for pardons and commutations on a case-by-case basis and made his determinations. He will continue to review clemency requests," Assistant White House Press Secretary Carlton Carroll said.

Among the many who have applied are former Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham, Republican from California, who was convicted of receiving bribes, publishing executive Conrad Black, who was found guilty of fraud and John Walker Lindh, who was given a 20 year sentence after pleading guilty to supporting terrorists in Afghanistan.

Not including the ones granted on Monday, this administration has given 157 pardons and 6 commutations - far fewer than his predecessors considering this president has served two terms.

While the President has the power to grant clemency to anyone he desires, the application process is very detailed and usually pardons are restricted to those who meet several criteria, including having served five years.

The most controversial of those Bush administration clemency decisions was the commutation in July 2007 of former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby after he was found guilty of lying about the leaking of the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media. Libby did not have to
serve any prison time.

There are about 475 pardon requests and almost 1,600 commutation applications still outstanding, according to Justice Department statistics.

–CNN's White House Correspondent Elaine Quijano and Terry Frieden contributed
to this story.

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (140 Responses)
  1. Boise, ID

    Lord, please bless the intellectually less fortunate souls that believe in trickle down economics. Grant them enough intelligence to see through the fear tactics of those that seek to use them for their own gain. Please allow them to see that you cannot blame Clinton for the eight years after his presidency (Future) while blaming the Democratic Congress for our current situation (Present) and Obama for the two months prior to his Presidency (Past). Please show them that people with different colors on their skin are every bit as good if not better than themselves. Grant them the humility to realize that they have no right to project their own flawed morals upon others that seek to share their lives together in peace and tolerance. Show them that you cannot drill for more oil and protect our planet at the same time. Lord, please raise the price of gas continuously until we finally find something else. Please teach them how to spell so they don't look so dumb when they try to respond to this.

    November 25, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. Shari, NY

    CNN how could you forget? On Thanksgiving Day the number of pardons will be revised upwards. One lucky Tom Turkey will dodge the guillotine.

    November 25, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. rodlang

    Will Barry pardon Rezko, Wright, Ayres and other radical criminals?

    November 25, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  4. Stuck in purgatory


    If you're still ranting on Bush you really need a life!!

    We're now in the "Obama recession" which may last until we replace Obama.

    Anyone in the financial sector knows all monetary conditions and status are "future based" and not current based.

    All markets and prices are based on POST ELECTION !!!

    So all you Bush haters are criticizing OBAMA!!!!

    Now go back and starting praying to Obamessiah.


    November 25, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  5. mike NY

    To Ed and all the others – you have to be convicted of something before a President can pardon you. There is no need to pardon the people you are suggesting because they haven't been convicted of anything.

    November 25, 2008 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  6. Sherrol in Canada

    Free the two border guards from Texas. It would really be great to see justice being done.

    November 25, 2008 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  7. dagamer34

    You can't pardon yourself or others if they haven't been accused of a crime yet. In fact, you have to be both charged and convicted of a crime to be pardoned. The Presidential power of pardoning doesn't work as a "get out of jail" free card before you've ever shown up for court.

    November 25, 2008 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  8. Andrew

    Mike November 25th, 2008 9:11 am ET

    Maybe Bush can pardon the american voters for their stupidity last November 6.

    **Maybe he will pardon your stupidity Mike, the election was on November 4.

    November 25, 2008 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  9. A Canuck

    Conrad Black is a Canadian in a U. S. jail for fraud; which caused many ordinary people to lose their retirement investments because of his greed. Now he is making his voice heard by writing to newspapers decrying the U.S. penal system and has asked Bush for a pardon. PLEASE MAKE THIS NARCISTIC CREEP SERVE HIS FULL SENTENCE.

    November 25, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  10. clark

    Never saw so many sick people. Since when are political acts crimes?

    November 25, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  11. Shaun Ebanks

    How about the two border agents Ramos and Campeon. These agents they were just trying to catch another Central American Drug Dealer over the border, dealing drugs to US Citzens and others around the world.

    He never stopped there, he even began dealing drugs once again after Ramos and Campeon arrest and strange prosecution.

    November 25, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  12. Al -

    You can't be serious?

    Are you lefties really droning on about Bush being a war criminal?

    That's going to be a hard position to defend.

    You probably buy goods from China.

    If you do this, you support slavery, or the principles there of. So we should put you on trial for violation of human rights.

    I am always amazed at the lack of respect for the highest office in America. This is the difference I find in general between the lefties and the right. We may hate their policies when the Dems or Liberals are in office, but we continue to respect the office.

    Dems and lefties have proven they only respect the office if their man is in office. If this is the case, you don't believe in Democracy.

    November 25, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  13. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Bush will pardon those who know where the skeletons are in the closet. As if we don't know what they are already, eh?!

    November 25, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  14. Leah from FL

    His ridiculous decisions continue to point to his lack of judgement. Duh... let me think... duh – ok, that dope dude, I'll pardon him...duh.. that's enough of the tough stuff – dud....this prez stuff is hard.

    November 25, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. Frances

    Hey Al, the Dems and lefties are just tired of Bush, just like the rest. It' ok to vent on a subject that's worth venting over. Also remember, respect is earned, not automatically given.

    November 25, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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