November 25th, 2008
05:37 AM ET
5 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. Kathy_in_Indiana

    When will he start pardoning his cronies? Cheney, Rice, Rumsfelt and himself? He is a war criminal and should go to jail!

    November 25, 2008 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  2. SW,OHIO

    If it is up to Bush, he'll let all the criminals out. He doesn't want to be labeled the worst President of the United States so he'll let them out just to make it more challenging for President Obama, like he hasn't made a big enough mess already. Thank God Bush's term is at end!

    November 25, 2008 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  3. Akan

    Above story is factually incorrect. CNN has confused John Forte the rapper with John Forte the violinist whose case is being championed by Carly simon ... please do your research

    November 25, 2008 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  4. Anonymous

    He better be working on a pardon for himself, and Cheney, for war crimes against the American and Iraqi people.

    November 25, 2008 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  5. Anonymous

    Can he pardon himself?

    November 25, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  6. Phillip Bunn

    He needs to be working on a pardon for himself, and Cheney, for war crimes against the American and Iraqi people.

    November 25, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  7. danyankee

    Hope he saves one for himself.

    November 25, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  8. Doris Neuhaus

    We do hope that Jonathan Pollard, imprisioned now for over 22 years, will be among those pardoned. He has suffered more than enough and more than any comparable prisoner. He is now a sick old man and should be able to recuperate in freedom.

    November 25, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  9. Tom in Delaware

    Bush has a lot of catching up to do if he wants to overtake Clinton's record.

    BTW-Libby didn't leak the name of Valeria Plame to the media, Richard Armitage did (never charged), and since Valerie Plame hadn't been in Foreign Service for over 5 years by the time of the 'leak' , it could no longer be considered a felony.

    TOM's FACT CHECK- CNN's story is misleading.

    November 25, 2008 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  10. Anonymous

    You, I really have no problem with these pardons. It actually appears as if Bush is doing the right thing by forgiving those convicted of victimless crimes.

    November 25, 2008 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  11. happy thanksgiving

    cheney will probably be next.

    November 25, 2008 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  12. Antoinette

    Why is he not pardoning the two border patrol agents?

    November 25, 2008 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  13. Dan Warren

    One thing Bush can't pardon is his own stupidity.

    November 25, 2008 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  14. Candy West Virginia

    You have got to love this man. He has almost single handedly, with a few other rethuglicans ruined this country, stripped us of our civil rights and liberties, ruined our reputation and relationship with foriegn countries, murdered thousands in a senseless war based on lies and wants to pardon the guilty now. Incredible! I honestly don't know how any decent minded republican could have even considered voting for this party.

    November 25, 2008 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  15. carol

    Bush has pardoned a few people already with minor convictions...but lets wait to see how many of "his" cronies he will be letting loose before much longer.
    You bet there will be a bunch of folks who really should be serving jail time for much higher crimes that will be walking away free as a bird, those are the ones that will make me mad at Bush for giving them a pardon!!!

    November 25, 2008 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  16. Proud American from New England

    Bush is a criminal.

    November 25, 2008 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  17. Dawn

    I am wondering if he will pardon Dick Cheney for his love if torture or his self. I wonder if he could do that.

    Pardoning a junkie or someone who had commited a serious offense, well there goes the neighborhood.

    I just wish it would be Jan. 20th,

    November 25, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  18. alvino

    Has he pardoned himself and his entire cabinet yet?

    November 25, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  19. GOP=Epic Fail

    i guess the war on drugs isn't as important as the "war on terror"

    i thought that both of those wars are supposed to go hand in hand.

    What is the real significance of having presidential pardons?

    CNN post this Please.

    November 25, 2008 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  20. Spencer/Virginia

    I bet Scooter Libby is on the short list.

    November 25, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  21. Carole

    Two border guards who protected our country are jailed and Bush pardons the drug dealers? Explain this to me. Maybe we need to get rid of this presidential get out of jail free card.

    November 25, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  22. Doug R.

    George Bush = the very worst President in U.S. history. It was his policies and the Republican koolaid drinkers who blindly supported him that got the economy into the condition it is in. Millions of people unemployed, millions of people without health care coverage, failing businesses and institutions, crumbling infrastructure, record high debt, bankruptcies, and foreclosures to name just a few things. This man has been lying to and deceiving the American people since the first day he took office.

    November 25, 2008 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  23. MattK

    Why are embezzlers and people convicted of fraud being pardoned yet the border agents who proudly served and protected our country are still having their lives placed in jeopardy in prison?

    November 25, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  24. Ed Poole

    I wish my parents had named me "Scooter". Still cracking jokes on the way out the door, this guys a laugh riot. Move out already.

    November 25, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  25. Chris

    Hopefully one day, President Bush will need to be pardoned himself.

    November 25, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
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