No Last-Minute Pardons For Torture
Contrary to the expectations of many of us who’ve been speculating about this for months, it’s looking like President George W. Bush may well leave office without issuing pardons to any of the myriad high officials in his administration — or the low-level operatives who took their orders — for the torture, humiliation and other extreme abuse of detainees in U.S. custody since September 11, 2001.
As I noted yesterday, some sort of investigation or prosecution by the Obama administration is looking more and more likely, given that Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder testified that waterboarding is torture, Dick Cheney unapologetically admitted he authorized it, and even Bush Pentagon official Susan Crawford, who oversees military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, acknowledged that the so-called “20th hijacker” was tortured and therefore can’t be prosecuted. Those are some pretty serious admissions of war crimes — ratcheting up the pressure on the next administration to prosecute them.
Still, there was President Bush today, getting ready to skip town without even pardoning Cheney’s former chief of staff Scooter Libby, who was convicted in 2007 of obstruction of justice in the Valerie Plame/CIA leak investigation.
The only people Bush did decide to pardon today, according to Politico, were two former Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who were serving lengthy prison terms for shooting a fleeing Mexican drug suspect in 2005. Bush commuted their sentences.
White House officials are saying they don’t expect any pardons or other acts of clemency by the president before he checks out of office Tuesday at noon.