Fox analyst: Bush can't issue blanket pardons for torture
George W. Bush "is not a big pardon guy," says a Fox News legal analyst, but there has been increasing speculation that he might wield the pardon power more generously as he prepares to leave office. However, there are some pardons that Bush either cannot or will not issue.
"The president can still pardon anybody he wants at any time he wants for anything done in their past for a federal violation," former judge Andrew Napolitano explained to the hosts of Fox and Friends on Tuesday. "He has so much absolute pardon power, he could pardon himself."
But although Bush might even pardon individuals who have not yet been charged -- as Gerald Ford did for Richard Nixon -- Napolitano insisted that he cannot issue a blanket pardon to everyone who may have engaged in extreme interrogation techniques. "You've got to name them," Napolitano explained. "You can't pardon somebody without saying who it is."
Napolitano's opinion appears to contradict much recent speculation about possible Bush pardons, with several commentators citing President Jimmy Carter's blanket pardon of Vietnam era draft-dodgers on the day after his inauguration.
However, the executive order issued to put Carter's pardon into effect referred specifically to canceling ongoing indictments, investigations, and prohibitions against returning to the United States for violations of the Military Selective Service Act, all of which would have involved named inviduals.
In addition to his general comments on the pardon power, Napolitano stated firmly that he does not expect to see a pardon for Scooter Libby. Bush commuted Libby's sentence in the Valerie Plame affair, saving the former White House aide from having to serve any time in jail, but without a pardon, Libby is still barred from practicing law.
"The essence of a pardon is mercy, not justice," Napolitano stated. "What also plays a role in it is, has the person paid back their debt to society. ... George Bush, when he has pardoned people, has usually pardoned people who have already served their time and are out. He has not 'sprung' them from jail."
This video is from Fox's Fox & Friends, broadcast Nov. 18, 2008.
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