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Patricia L Johnson: Pardon Me?

Pardon Me?


By Patricia L Johnson

I Lewis Libby, also known as “Scooter Libby” was recently convicted of 4 of the 5 charges against him as follows:

COUNT CHARGE VERDICT
1 Obstruction of Justice (18 U.S.C. § 1503) GUILTY
2 False Statements (18 U.S.C. § 1001 (a))
False statements to FBI investigators (concerning
conversations with NBC newsman Tim Russert) GUILTY
3 False Statements (18 U.S.C. § 1001 (a))
False statements to FBI investigators (concerning
conversations with Time reporter Matt Cooper) NOT GUILTY
4 Perjury (18 U.S.C. § 1623)
Perjury to the Grand Jury (Tim Russert conversation) GUILTY
5 Perjury (18 U.S.C. § 1623)
Perjury to the Grand Jury (Matt Cooper conversation) GUILTY
Source: Department of Justice - NBC News

Although the charges carry the possibility of up to 25 years in prison, only time will tell whether or not Libby will spend a night behind bars. His attorneys will be requesting he remain free for both a retrial and an appeal, if the request for a retrial is denied.

Then there’s always the possibility of a pardon. Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution provides the President of the United States with the power to grant pardons for any offense against the United States except in the case of impeachment:

“… and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

On February 22, 2001 President Bush was specifically asked about the power of the pardon during a press conference and provided the following response:

Excerpt

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, David.

Q Other Presidents are commenting on this matter. On the Rich pardon specifically, former President Carter said that in his opinion, it was "disgraceful." Do you not have an opinion on a power that is absolute and is vested in you as the President?

THE PRESIDENT: My opinion is I will -- should I decide to grant pardons, I will do so in a fair way. I'll have the highest of high standards.

Is it possible a ‘fair’ pardon could be granted by President Bush for Scooter Libby using the ‘highest of high standards’?

The media continually reports the fact that Scooter Libby was Vice-President Cheney’s Chief of Staff but seldom acknowledges, as indicated in the Grand Jury indictment, that Libby was also employed as “ASSISTANT to the PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES.

In other words he worked directly for President Bush. Should the President of the United States be allowed to pardon a personal assistant when the personal assistant has been found guilty of charges against the U.S.?

How can the people of this country accept a judicial system that will put a man behind bars for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family, but allow a pardon for felony convictions against an employee of the executive branch of government?

When our forefathers wrote the constitution did they really intend to give the President the power to give get-out-of-jail free cards to anyone convicted of breaking the law, including people that may have been told to break the law by the office?

While members of congress are contemplating the answer to that question, they may also want to give some consideration to the wording of Article II, Section 2 in the U.S. Constitution.

“… and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

The word “he” might tend to put a damper on any pardons considered by a female president.

*************

Patricia L Johnson is a writer residing in Northeastern Illinois.

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