You Cannot Pardon a Crime You Authorized
Submitted by davidswanson on Thu, 2008-11-27 03:51. Criminal Prosecution
Statement from the Steering Committee for the Prosecution for War Crimes of President Bush and His Subordinates
Never before has a president pardoned himself or his subordinates for crimes he authorized. The closest thing to this in U.S. history thus far has been Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence. Bush is widely expected to follow that commutation with a pardon. Not only did Libby work for the White House, but he was convicted of obstruction of justice in an investigation that was headed to the president. Evidence introduced in the trial, including a hand-written note by the vice president, implicated Bush, and former press secretary Scott McClellan has since testified that Bush authorized the exposure of an undercover agent, that being the crime that was under investigation.
There are widespread concerns that Bush might pardon other subordinates for various other crimes that he authorized, potentially including torture, warrantless spying, a variety of war crimes, taking the nation to war on fraudulent evidence, and the abuses of the politicized Justice Department. Voices in the media advising Bush to issue such pardons include: Stuart Taylor Jr. (Newsweek 7/12/08) and Alan Dershowitz (Wall St Journal 9/12/08), while many additional voices have urged Obama to commit to not prosecuting.
The idea that the pardon power constitutionally includes such pardons ignores a thousand year tradition in which no man can sit in judgment of himself, and the fact that James Madison and George Mason argued that the reason we needed the impeachment power was that a president might some day try to pardon someone for a crime that he himself was involved in. The problem is not preemptive pardons of people not yet tried and convicted. The problem is not blanket pardons of unnamed masses of people. Both of those types of pardons have been issued in the past and have their appropriate place. The problem is the complete elimination of any semblance of the rule of law if Bush pardons his subordinates for crimes he instructed or authorized them to commit.
If Bush attempts this, here are possible responses:
1. Immediate impeachment of Bush and Cheney and various pardonees, even if they are out of office. (Here are arguments for the permissibility of such impeachments: http://afterdowningstreet.org/node/37834 )
2. Overturning of the pardons by the new president or by Congress, as Bush's lawyers told him he could do to Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich, which was a far more minor abuse of the pardon power.
3. Legislation banning self-pardons and pardons of crimes authorized by the president.
4. A Constitutional Amendment banning self-pardons and pardons of crimes authorized by the president.
5. Refusal by the courts to honor the supposed pardons.
6. Prosecution of Bush, Cheney, and their subordinates for their crimes.
With thanks to all who have aided over the past millennia in the establishment of the rule of law.
Lawrence Velvel, Dean of Massachusetts Law School, chairs the Steering Committee whose members include Ben Davis, Marjorie Cohn, Chris Pyle, Elaine Scarry, Peter Weiss, David Swanson, Kristina Borjesson, Colleen Costello, Valeria Gheorghiu, and Andy Worthington.
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Maybe this will be the straw that breaks the Neocon's back?
Submitted by channing on Thu, 2008-11-27 05:53.
Even though Bush has been acting the part of already out of office, it still bothers me that there has been no break-through regarding the illegality of the administration as a whole. You guys are on the right track, though, I would contend, there is no need whatsoever to re-legislate the foundation of Law itself:
You can confess, but you cannot prosecute yourself. You can accuse, but you must prove before a Jury of Peers. You can Appoint Justices, but you cannot appoint the Laws, and you may consider yourself Dictator, but you cannot be President of the United States and neither can you Pardon Yourself.
There is no foundation whatsoever for the self-jurisdiction that might require additional legislation of the fundamentals of Law. We regard Law as the guiding and agreed consensus of humane civilization, and neither Bush nor any of his lot will ever legalize their way around it. We're looking for just one opening to begin prosecution, and this pardon business may be the cake. Did any of you notice the absence of pardons being a strategic mechanism of evasion?
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Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2008-11-28 14:46.
...was lying to a grand jury. The evidence against him was going to be Tim Russert's grand jury testimony. See, if one was true, the other was a a lie. and therefore perjury. Fitzgerald, with similar justification, could have indicted Russert and cited Libby's testimony as his evidence. In fact, "outing Plame wasn't a crime. that's why nobody was indicted. everybody except Libby just told the truth about it.
But, more importantly, Libby did not out Plame. That was not the crime for which he was indicted, or pardoned. A hand-written note implicating Bush in the outing, assuming it exists, would be historically interesting, but not criiminal evidence. Read Bob Novak's book. He's the guy who outed Plame. He explains exactly how it happened. The Bush administration did not set the outing in motion, and even if it had, that would not have been criminal behavior. Which shows that the premise of this "summission" is baseless. But keep trying.
Sorry to interrupt your left-wing fantasies with the facts.