Senator Feingold Urges President Bush To Limit Pardons

The number of Presidential pardons in the final days of the Bush White House is a major concern to many who wish to see the justice system be able to function as it should in our democracy.  The fear is that President Bush will try to undermine the rule of law a final time as he gives pardons away like candy on Halloween.  If that happens our nation will be ill-served.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), a frequent and vocal critic of the president, urges Bush not to further tatter his legacy with preemptive pardons of government officials suspected of criminal activity. The president has virtually unlimited authority to issue pardons for federal crimes, but Feingold says in a essay that the president should think of his legacy.

If President Bush were to pardon key individuals involved in the misdeeds of his administration, from warrantless wiretapping to torture to the firing of U.S. attorneys for political reasons, the courts would be unable to address criminality, or pass judgment on the legality of some of the president’s worst abuses. Issuing such pardons now would be particularly egregious, since voters just issued such a strong condemnation of the Bush administration at the ballot box. There is nothing to prevent President Bush from using the pardon in such a short-sighted and self-serving manner — except, perhaps, public pressure that may itself be a window on the judgment of history.

If Bush issued blanket pardons it could prevent a full inquiry into the numerous abuses carried out during his eight years in office, Feingold told RAW STORY Thursday.

“One of the things we can do is put pressure on this administration not to abuse the pardon power, in other words not to let folks off the hook in advance,” Feingold said during an interview in his Capitol Hill office. “Now that sets the stage if we can get him to be limited in that and not abuse it, so that we can consider whether criminal or other accountability would be appropriate. I’m not ready to say that it is, but I don’t want it taken off the table by presidential, by abuse of the presidential pardon power.”

12 thoughts on “Senator Feingold Urges President Bush To Limit Pardons

  1. So a Democrat wants the President of the United States to step quietly aside and set the stage for a Liberal witch hunt of the outgoing Administration? LOL That’s rich.

    I personally Hope that Bush issues blanket pardons and immunities to the entire administration, the military, and everyone involved just to prevent the otherwise inevitable persecution.

  2. And that comment above shows conservatives do not care for the rule of law, only the degree to which they can abuse the power they are granted.

    A true conservative would care more about the constitutional safegaurds that were undermined and destroyed, and seek measures to make sure they never happened again.

  3. Patrick

    What has congress done except investigate (think Obama will replace any district atourneys?)? Even the Feingold’s own words (president’s worst abuses)suggest the pre-determined course of investigations. Ask Scooter Libby about the fairness of liberal democratic witch-hunts. Or, ask Fred Armitage. Pelosi and her low ilk certainly are not interested in the rule of law, and anyone with common sense and a bit of objectivity would see the same. What in the record of the democrats is there to suggest that these trials that the left is so excited to have would ever be fair–or anything useful?

    Bush should employ the blanket pardon. But here’s an idea: since Pelosi promised the most ethical congress ever, why not urge her to limit the power of presidential pardons hence forward? I’m sure Obama would jump at that chance to make a statement about ethics.

  4. Terrence


    Please hold off on the “conservatives do not care for…” You’re not a conservative, and you don’t know what we believe. On the issue at hand, don’t you even smell a faint whiff of hypocriscy here? I suggest you Google “Clinton pardons” and read through what you find. Oh, I forgot– Clinton pardons Good, Bush pardons Bad. Good Party does good things. Evil Party does evil things. Now if I could only get myself to believe that.

    On presidential power, the thing I never really understood during the past eight years why Bush’s attempts to preserve presidential perogatives vis a vis Congress represented a demented/Evil power grab. As I understand it, Bush is going to be leaving office, so when he leaves that means Obama will benefit from Bush’s zealous defense of the presidency. Kind of makes all that liberal wailing about Bush/Cheney’s quest for eternal power seem kind of silly now, huh? But not as silly as this post about the Bush pardons…

  5. jst


    You have been slow on this topic, but I applaud you for using this space to help foment energy on this issue. May it not be the last I see here about this matter.

    It’s no joke as crimes have been committed in the last eight years in our name: kidnapping, torture, murder, illegal wiretaps, offenses against civil law and the Constitution.

    Serious people, including lawyers and constitutional scholars, are determined to see that justice is done. About 120 of them met in September in Andover to plan “the prosecution of high-level American war criminals.” The conference produced a steering committee, chaired by Lawrence Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, along with a list of 20 possible actions the group will pursue, from impeaching a federal judge who authored one of the infamous “torture memos” to seeking the disbarment of attorneys who authorized illegal actions.

    I do not think you will be swayed from doing the correct thing here with the number of readers you draw. Let this issue continue to be a reason to blog!


    Justin Tibbs

  6. I found some of President Clinton’s pardons to be highly difficult to swallow.

    But I do not recall any of those pardons were granted for undermining our Constitution, or attempts to govern in a manner that is not in accordance with the rule of law. That can not be said for the Bush Crime Family now in the White House.

    That is the issue here.

    And does it not shock any conservatives….and yes we as a nation do know what you are, and that is why you are now on the outside looking in……..that a President seems needing to give so many pardons to so many seemingly ‘innocent’ people?

    Innocent people do not need pardons!

  7. Terrance,

    The matter you talked about at the end of your comment above is one that I have long been interested in, from both sides of the political divide. And I DO NOT desire a stronger executive branch, regardless of who is in the White House.

    I am more a process democrat (small d) and so have more in common with real conservatives….the Barry Goldwater type….not the bible thumping turks of today’s GOP…..on issues of government as a functioning body.

    I wrote the following a couple weeks ago and thought you might enjoy.

    It starts this way……

    When it come to the process of how government should run and operate I am quite conservative. While I have liberal policy goals, and have much fun cranking Republicans on my blog, I have a very narrow view for what constitutes the proper procedures that government should abide by when conducting the nation’s business. As such, I was not pleased with the lack of public discussion in the recent campaign over a most important issue, that being the amount of executive power that resides with the President.

    Over the past eight years there has been a massive effort to expand the powers of the executive. That does not bode well for the nation. I would make that same statement about the issue had Barack Obama been in charge for the last two terms. (And I am sure to raise this issue again as the months go by under an Obama Administration.) This issue is not one of Democratic or Republican partisanship, but instead should be viewed as an American issue. The results of a stronger executive branch undercuts the legislative, and ill-serves the very people they all claim to work on behalf of.

    The goal for greater executive reach and power contained within the Patriot Act, Iraq War, and interrogations of those deemed to be terrorists, are just a few headline examples of what can go wrong when the legislative branch is treated like, or acts like, a doormat. And let us not forget the infamous ’signing statements’ that are just plain wrong, I would argue, on constitutional grounds.

  8. Terrence

    I think you guys are so pickled in leftist bias that you don’t know which way is up. Take a look at the paragraph from Feingold’s “essay” that is excerpted above. He writes that it would be wrong for Bush to pardon members of his administration for firing U.S. attorneys for political reasons. Do I really have to remind you that Bush can fire them for any reason at all? Why would Bush have to pardon anyone in connection with something that he was clearly authorized to do?

    I was reading an article in the NYT the other day about Obama’s search for an AG– how the current frontrunner for the job, Eric Holder, was involved in Clinton’s pardon of Marc Rich. The author of the article was very keen to highlight how important it was for Obama to nominate an AG that was beyond reproach. This was deemed important given the supposed damage that the US attorney firing scandal wreaked on to the Justice Department. You never know when a manufactured controversy is going to come in handy– just when you need to provide cover for a Clinton crony.

    You do realize the Feingold is a rabid Bush opponent and that he is obviously just trying to take yet another shot at the Bush administration before The Messiah takes over? Don’t you guys ever think this stuff through, or do you not even realize that Feingold has a partisan agenda he is peddling? Why do you think that whole US attorney rigmarole was cooked up in the first place? It was just a thinly veiled attack on Bush, one that could be conveniently recycled later.

    This is just another example– the list is endless actually, of stupidities that the Left tries to peddle to anyone silly enough to gulp them down. They stretch back for decades– from FDR “leading” us out of the Great Depression (funny how Bush wasn’t credited for “leading” us out of the tech bubble aftermath, though The Messiah will surely be lauded for “leading” us out of the current morass, if it takes him eight years of pump priming to do it) to JFK being wacked by LBJ so that he could ramp up the war in Vietnam (the fact that Oswald was a communist was conveniently forgotten) all the way down to the lesser fictions we see today, such as the one about how people were shouting “kill him” at McCain rallies when Obama’s name was mentioned (the Secret Service investigated that one and found out that it was made up out of whole cloth). We’ll be hearing about the Weimar-like rage of McCain rallies for years to come.

    Remember good old Sandy Berger– you remember him, right? The Clinton national security advisor who was busted for stealing and destroying classified documents from the National Archives. Oh you don’t remember? That wasn’t such a big deal? I’m sure Condi would get the same treatment if she tries to pull the same trick in a couple years. She could go to the archives, like Sandy did, and steal some documents on Bush’s anti-terror policies. I’m sure it wouldn’t be such a big deal. The media will hardly notice, right?

    Or what about my personal favorite: Cindy Sheehan? Did you ever wonder why out of more than 4,000 fallen soldiers, the only grieving mother with national name recognition is a crazed moonbat from San Francisco? I wonder, given the heartfelt concern everyone has about the blood of our fallen soldiers, why there aren’t any pro-war bereaved mothers in the national spotlight?

    I’ll tell you why. It’s because they don’t count in the eyes of the Left. They don’t count and the truth doesn’t count, unless it serves the interests of the Democratic Party.

    I could go on and on, but I’m sure it won’t convince you. Maybe four years of The Messiah will, but I doubt it.

  9. WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama campaigned on the slogan of “change.” But his early appointees, including two top choices that emerged Wednesday, show that experience is one of his main criteria.

    President-elect Barack Obama is looking to fill his administration with longtime Washington hands. Above, Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff.
    His choice for secretary of Health and Human Services, officials said, is former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who has a long Washington résumé. Jacob Lew, one of President Bill Clinton’s budget directors, is favored to direct the National Economic Council

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