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. Minnesotan

    Now Bush has a chance to truly shine in the areas of cronyism and corruption: two of his greatest strengths.

    November 25, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  2. Kel in Auburn, AL

    He's going to pardon stevens on his way out the door.

    November 25, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  3. Vincent

    You people are calling him a criminal, why dont you take a look at the Clinton Pardons!!!!! that is a laundry list of Criminals that doesnt even come close to Bush's Pardon's, I do feel the Border patrol guards need to be pardoned.
    Good Day,

    November 25, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  4. Tracey

    The two border patrol guys need to pardoned, they were wronged from the get go. I can't wait till Bush is gone!!!!!! I said back in 2000 he would ruin this country and I was right. We need to move on and fast.

    November 25, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  5. Mickie

    I'm sure he will pardon all his cronies before he leaves office.

    November 25, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  6. clifford

    Pardon v.p. pick Joe Biden for plagiarizing a speech he made in 1988 effectively ending his presidential bid!

    November 25, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  7. Atlanta

    The 2 border agents President Bush, dont forget them! It is imperative they are freed

    November 25, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |

    Interesting to see the bank embezzler go free when the taxpayers have to pay the bill, and setting free people trying to bring more drugs into the US. I guess Roger Clemens is next. He might as well let Mike Vick, and Marion Jones. Who's next Bin Laden?

    November 25, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  9. Beth Gooden

    The two border guards still in prison should be released immediately and charges removed from their records. They are far more deserving than some of these Washington criminals (including the current administration). Perhaps Bush and Cheney should take the guards' places in jail!

    November 25, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  10. Union Baby

    I think he should pardon the former governor of Alabama, even the republicans in his state think he was wrongly accused and falsley convicted due to the mess with the justice department and the fact they wanted to steal the governorship and make sure a republican won the office.

    November 25, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  11. Anonymous

    President should not have the power of pardon. Only god does.

    November 25, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  12. Tim

    Nice little benefit. Free drugs for life. Party on dude.

    November 25, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  13. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    If Bush were truly a Christian and a patriotic American opposed to cruel and unusual punishment, he would immediately pardon drug agents Ramos and Compean, who are suffering miserably in 10+ year sentences of solitary confinement for only having done the job they were having to do! What do you say, Bush? I hope, when you're convicted of war crimes, conspiracy, and abuse of power, you receive the same kind of just treatment you have meted out to Ramos and Compean!

    November 25, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  14. clifford

    President George W. Bush: We have been safe from terrorism for eight years! No impeachments! No scandals! No criminal convictions or charges EVER!!! (and Cheney). Never lost an election on the national stage! Not to bright? Yea, right. Give me a break!

    November 25, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  15. Darko

    This is a joke if the two border guards from Texas aren't on his list.

    November 25, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  16. satyen

    He is himself guilty of killing hundreds of Americans , and thousands of Iraqis. The Americans ELECTED him.! The economy of the world is in ruins because of eight years of insanity. Who is going to pardon the American electors who made this ZOMBY President! of the USA

    November 25, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  17. brenda

    you peeps still cant get over it. obama won. leave bush alone. you may wish that you had taken this advise shortly after obama is sworn in. you though bush was bad:? be careful what you wish for you just might get it. you wont hear the republicans calling for obamas head when he messes up (and he will...and it will be very bad) so again leave bush alone.

    November 25, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  18. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Free Jonathan Pollard! He received a harsher sentance than any other spy! He just gave Israel the information that Reagan promised... Why should those that spied for enemies get lighter sentances than Pollard?

    November 25, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  19. Stacy from Loudoun County VA

    Pardons Ted Stevens, Duke Cunningham and other GOP buddies, Dick Cheney and the rest of his Cabinet, then Himself..go to the Obama's Swearing In...punch out and hide in Crawford or some other 'undisclosed location'. Hope the media does not figure it out for a day or two.

    November 25, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  20. Jano 1234

    Do you think he will pardon himself and that sleezy Cheney for the "number" they have done to this country?

    November 25, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  21. David in Dallas

    Every outgoing president does this. I don't know why, but it's true for both parties.

    November 25, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  22. Linda Barnett

    Border Guards should be Bush's top priority.. if he really intends to 'do the right thing'.

    November 25, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  23. TX Independent for Obama

    Yes, as noted, the key will be to see what he does about the illegal actions related to torture in his own administration. If he pardons "himself" we have then, a constitutional crisis tantamount to dictatorship. Yes, dictatorship. This would give new meaning to "the decider"....I'll be watching closely.

    I doubt he'll come out and actually grant a pardon. But I would be equally shocked if he didn't create some legal side-door escape hatch just short of a pardon that equates to the same thing....

    November 25, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  24. New Yorker

    What a bunch of stupid comments coming from ungrateful hypocrites. What I would like to know is why the convicted former governor of New York, Spitzer, gets off scott free? Duh, like I don't know; he's a democrat.

    November 25, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  25. Hector

    Libs spew nonsense, I cant wait to start blaming everything wrong in my life and in the country on Obama just like all the sheep who use Bush as an exuse for everything negative haha

    November 25, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
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