November 25th, 2008
05:37 AM ET
10 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. Bermuda shorts!

    I sent you a comment about 6 hrs ago!! What happened to it?? I guess it was NOT liberal enough or asked the 'TOUGH QUESTIONS'!!

    November 25, 2008 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  2. Tony Rozycki

    Why aren't there even more applications?

    November 25, 2008 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  3. Mike Olmeda

    Yeah, whoever leaked Plame's name will "no longer be working for the administration!" Unless you're Scooter Libby and allegedly did it for your boss! What a piece of work! I can't wait until 1/20/09! Charges should really be brought up on George W. Bush!

    November 25, 2008 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  4. Damond McCann

    I have always thought George Bush was trying to be a good person. This only makes me believe he really is (as it relates to John Forte). I think he has been horribly advised as a president. I hope for our sake that he just doesn't start letting every Tom, Dick, and Harry get away with the great crimes against our country that has lead us to this financial crisis.

    November 25, 2008 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
  5. JP Sewall

    I can not believe who Bush granted pardons to. Why did he not pardon the 2 border patrol agents instead of drug dealers, toxic waste, liars and cheats. And you wonder why the American public voted for Obama. He has destroyed the Republican party and the beliefs of millions. Thanks Mr. Bush, for the change in my political views. What a DAY!!!!!!

    November 25, 2008 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  6. Josh

    I am willing to bet that two of those pardons would be for Bush himself and Dick Cheney so they can't be prosecuted in this country for the crimes that these two have committed. But they would still have to stand trial before the World Court for their war crimes.

    November 25, 2008 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  7. Thunder

    Who he needs to pardon are the two border agents that were wrongly convicted and imprisioned for doing their jobs.

    November 25, 2008 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  8. JIMCT

    So, one of his First Pardons goes to a guy that used/sold cocaine...Interesting!!

    November 25, 2008 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  9. Benjamin

    O.K....I can't believe this. pardons for unauthorized aquisition of food stamps when we have two Border Patrol Agents (former) serving time for doing their job. And he talks about protecting the border? give me a break!!!!!!

    November 25, 2008 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  10. Bruce Qualey

    Wondering why every president when he leaves office pardons a bunch of crimnals? What is there for them to be gained. There must be a motive behind there actions.

    November 25, 2008 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  11. kay richardson

    if you are going to pardon drug dealers, you might as well let charles manson out too, what is the difference?

    November 25, 2008 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  12. don


    November 25, 2008 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  13. Stu-Florida

    Add Cheany... Stevens... Palin

    November 25, 2008 06:54 am at 6:54 am |

    Can he Pardon himself or Cheney for bringing down to this situation- Economic, Social and Psychological by their reality war games in this e-world?

    November 25, 2008 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  15. Guy

    Can he save the pardons for later when he and Cheney will need them for themselves? Just a question.

    November 25, 2008 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  16. RW

    I didn't see anything about the 2 border guards who were
    lock up on bogus charges, Ramos and Campion.
    They should have been first in line for pardons.

    November 25, 2008 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  17. Jim in Bisbee

    I imagine that the pardons for himself and Mr. Cheney will be last.

    November 25, 2008 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  18. Mike Presti

    A crook helping out his brothers ! There should not be any pardons for someone that has been convicted of a crime.

    November 25, 2008 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  19. Bush wants lethal Injection

    A crook freeing crooks!!! .........just doesn't make good sense..!!

    November 25, 2008 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  20. brian

    way to hold up that legacy bush...

    November 25, 2008 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  21. SSGT Rock

    So what. Clinton did the same. At lease Bush is not hiring them..

    November 25, 2008 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  22. David, Chicago, IL

    Will he pardon himself and Dick Cheney, two of the biggest criminals in Washington?

    November 25, 2008 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  23. Robert S.

    He'll probably pardon Scooter Libby last, since that would be controversial. Then he should consider pardoning Rove and Cheney, for leaking the name of a CIA operative, then Michael Brown, for botching the Katrina response which led to thousands of deaths.
    Alberto Gonzalez should get pardoned for firing any U.S. attorneys who prosecuted Republicans.

    Then maybe he should pardon himself, for deliberately using flawed intelligence to justify the Iraq war, which led to the deaths of over four thousand of our troops.

    November 25, 2008 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  24. Jim Chalker

    I would like to see James Traficant (Dem./Ohio) pardoned.

    November 25, 2008 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  25. dan

    Forte gets a comutation ?? What about Ramos and Compean ?? Exactly how insane is this ?

    November 25, 2008 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
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