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. Joe Regis

    Who is going to pardon him?

    November 25, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  2. Kim

    Uh Huh. The hollow and shallow Bush will pardon crooks with connections to political cronnies. But will he Pardon the Border Patrol Agents wrongnly in Prison for protecting our nation. I doubt it because that would require some guts and character.

    November 25, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  3. Liam Danhof

    Mr. Bush, what about Romos and Compeon?

    Mr. Obama, please answer this above question as well!

    Thank you.

    November 25, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  4. Pat

    I wonder if he can pardon himself and his boss, Dick, for for any future convictions.

    November 25, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  5. Michelle, PA

    Everyone knew pardons were – and are – going to happen. They all do it on their way out the door. Interesting to see who gets one, but beyond that not really news.

    November 25, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  6. Christopher, Madison, WI

    God hates all republicans!

    November 25, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  7. Jerry

    It woulnd't surprise me if this guy pardon's Osama Bin Laden on his way out the door. Osama has had a pretty good run during this president's administration. Might as well put the icing on the cake and give him a get out of jail card as well. I mean the Prez never really intended to catch his old business partner anyway, but he sure made us think he was trying! Thanks George for everything you have done for America....

    November 25, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  8. Linda

    How ironic...a pardon for Libby,who should have been charged with treason, but served no time. a pardon for John Walker Lindh, who is a terrorist, a pardon for drug dealers , a pardon for a Rebublican , Cunningham, who took bribes. And yet, he will not pardon Edwin Edwards, who has been in prison for years, is in his 80's, and deserves no less than a terrorist, a drug dealer, another corrupt politician, and high government official who betrayed his country.

    November 25, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  9. Chris (SC)

    My guess is over 100 pardons before Bush is done. Republicans get your hands out. Not that this is anything new as Clinton pardoned a ton of people right before he left office.

    November 25, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  10. landandair

    Pardon the two Border Guards who were convicted of shooting a drug dealer. The drug dealer later smuggled more drugs.

    November 25, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  11. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    So is this schmuck going to pardon himself and his henchmen for his appalling 2 terms?

    November 25, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  12. TrueIndependent

    We have P-E Obama working without pay, on behalf of all Americans, to clean up the mess Mr. Negative I-Q Bush created.

    Bush on the other hand, is working hard on behalf of convicted felons, to get them pardoned.

    Something is seriously wrong here!

    November 25, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  13. Mike

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

    November 25, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  14. Roger

    It would be morally reprehensible if Pres. Bush were to pardon Scooter Libby and Ted Stevens and not pardon those two border patrol agents who were DOING THEIR JOB. Do the right thing here, President Bush and grant a pardon to those 2 deserving border patrol agents.

    November 25, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  15. Robert the Man

    I heard he was going to pardon Tupac and he's gonna make a comeback now!

    November 25, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  16. I'm thankful

    Save the turkeys!

    November 25, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  17. sue

    All presidents who are leaving office give pardons before they are gone. The most famous presidential pardon was President Ford pardoning President Nixon.

    November 25, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  18. Bud

    The two Border Patrolmen should have been at the top of the list of those pardoned or commuted. This has been a national shame for years.

    November 25, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  19. Chris

    Mr. President "What about the two Border Guards"

    November 25, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  20. Lauren the Designer

    He's got to free up his connections, ya know?

    November 25, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  21. Truth

    Those border patrol agents also were found to have manipulated the crime scene and lied on their reports. They deserve to be in jail just as much as the drug smuggler.

    It is possible there are no good guys, you know...

    November 25, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  22. It's time to...

    Free Leonard Peltier.

    November 25, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  23. L. Gordon

    Pardon the border patrol agents. They were just doing their job.

    November 25, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  24. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    Wanna bet Bush has his tickets all set for a quickie escape to his Paraguay rancho after pardoning Cheney and Stevens and whatever other loser GOP scum is still hanging around? Probably has one lined up for Palin and her IRS fraud as well....

    Then WHOOSH off to the land of no extradition even for war criminals: Paraguay.....

    November 25, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  25. Mike

    He should take a page from the Clinton playbook and use this opportunity to raise money for his Presidential Library.

    November 25, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
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